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Danny's Boys: An East End Tale

Danny's Boys: An East End Tale

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Danny's Boys: An East End Tale

549 pages
10 hours
Jul 16, 2013


Daniel had what appeared to be the perfect childhood, but one night was to change his life forever. Growing up in the London care system, he takes the wrong, although some would argue right, path in life and becomes heavily involved in violent gang culture. Daniel Cottle AKA Danny Boy, with his striking pretty-boy looks, is the hard man of the East End, a ladies' man, millionaire, drug baron and murderer. Following exciting twists and turns, infiltrating the police, run-ins with grasses and several spells in prison, Daniel earns a reputation in London and abroad as a man not to be crossed. Continually responsible for the deaths of family members and close friends, he finds it impossible to trust anyone. At various stages, he has to ask himself if the mass wealth and celebrity status was worth the many losses.
Jul 16, 2013

About the author

I have been writing for many years and will soon be uploading The Jakob's Star series as e-book editions.

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Danny's Boys - Richard Barnard


Chapter 1

Woodford Bridge, Essex

Christmas 1987

08.43 Monday

SNOWFLAKES HAD NEVER appeared as fascinating as they caressed the window of the vehicle. Kieran looked out of the white one-man sweatbox as it sat amid the rush hour traffic.

As a boy, he would see the armed escort noisily transporting prisoners through the streets of East London. He always said to his friends, 'When you find yourself alone in that one-man sweatbox you're in trouble.' People watched the vehicle pass by with its small heavily tinted window. Kieran thought how just beyond this tiny window, there was another world unimaginable to most people. During the late 1980s, those vehicles only carried members of the IRA and other high-risk prisoners.

Kieran wondered why they hadn't moved for at least five minutes. Sitting on the hard plastic seat contemplating his fate he heard the DJ on the radio say, 'This is Pat Sharp at Capital Radio. I'm sorry to have to report an overturned lorry at the Castle roundabout at Woodford. Traffic has come to a complete standstill causing mayhem to rush hour commuters; avoid that area at all costs. Again, this morning it's two below freezing and snowing in London, but due to the freak mild daytime periods that we're experiencing, it doesn't look as though it will be a white Christmas.'

'Fucking right about that,'Kieran murmured, shaking his head at the thought of spending Christmas behind bars.

The early morning icy conditions had caused an articulated lorry's trailer to slam against a high kerb and turn it on its side. This completely blocked the entrance to a major roundabout.The knock-on effect brought all local traffic to a standstill.

Kieran's armed prison van sat outside Gates of Woodford, the Ford dealership; it was total gridlock in either direction. Panic set in among the prison staff after they hadn't moved for almost twenty minutes. Armed police appeared frantic standing around the vehicle wielding their MP5 rifles. They knew this would be the perfect opportunity for Kieran's gang to attempt to spring him from the van. The police helicopter caused the van to vibrate fiercely, adding to the unbearable tension.

During that moment, Kieran made a promise to himself. Provided he'd eventually manage to get out, he'd appreciate the simple things in life, like walking along a pavement, through woods or even along a beach. He cast a thought back to one Christmas when he'd moaned about having to walk through Epping Forest with his wife.

He pressed his nose and forehead against the tiny window. Looking out at normal everyday people, the handcuffed twenty-five-year- old realised how precious life is, no matter how you live it.

'Fuck; I've put myself bang in it here,' he said.

Terry's Home, Hornchurch, Essex


Daniel's sons Luke and Nathan were sitting with Kieran's daughter, Jessica, and Terry's children in their living room while they were watching The Jungle Book. The adults were having coffee in the kitchen listening to soul music on the stereo.

Terry, fucking keep a look out in case one of the kids come in,' Mandy whispered as she wrapped the last of the presents to be placed under the tree. From the day they met, Terry was attracted to this mixed-race woman. She was by far the loudest of the women as she strutted around their large detached house.

'I feel for Nicola,’ June sighed, shaking her head. As she stopped her short, blonde bob fell back neatly into place. There had been a solemn feeling since Kieran's arrest.

'I'd hate our boys to grow up with you stuck in there ... it's Christmas for God's sake,’ June said looking into Daniel Cottle's piercing hazel-green eyes.

'How long do you reckon?' Mandy asked Daniel. She felt for Kieran and Nicola and prayed nightly that the same fate wouldn't happen to her and Terry.

'He's going to have to do some ... there's no getting away from that ... but if all goes well, not too long, 'Daniel paused for a moment before continuing, 'He's got a good girl in Nicola, and me and Terry are there for him, he's alright ... unu nar fe worry bout im.' Everyone in the room knew, by his voice and body language, that Daniel was missing his friend terribly.

'Gis a minute brov,' Terry said beckoning Daniel away from the women in the kitchen. Daniel followed Terry through the passage.

'Mi bomber clart, mi forget what we afi do today to rarse.' Daniel seemed uncharacteristically vulnerable as they entered the living room.

'You've got to get your head straight, Dan, ’Terry said. He had to look up slightly to hold eye contact with Daniel. Both men weighed in at sixteen stone and Terry was the stockier of the two. 'Dan, there's that thing with the little firm in Bromley that want to make the ecstasy pills, 'he said.

Daniel stood up walked over to his friend.' Got to watch what you say in your house, Tel,' Daniel whispered gripping Terry's wrists.

'Ah ... fuck me ... yeah yor right mate,’ Terry agreed.

Daniel gave him a you have to buck up your ideas look before saying, 'Let's go, we need to be getting back before the rush hour starts.'

Tel, please mate, don't be late getting up to the ville tomorrow.'

'I won't ... I can't wait to see him. He needs a visit from one of us mate. I think it's a fucking liberty the old bill objecting to you going up to the prison, Dan.'

'It's their prison mate; they can do what the fuck they want. They've got everything I done from the age of fourteen on record. There's no way they're having me visit him,' Daniel smiled as both of them stood by Terry's Lotus Carlton car.

'Do you think they know it all Dan?'

'I'm not sure how much they know ... I'll have to run it by Stuart.'

'How is he, that little fucking tosser ... cozzer filth cunt?' laughed Terry.

'A little tosser and filth he maybe but that policeman's invaluable to us Tel,' Daniel reminded him.

'I woke up thinking about the pump shotie, Tel.'

'Yeah ... it's not clear evidence, but they stick it in front of the wrong jury and he could be in trouble for the blag as well.'

'We got to think it through ... there must be something, he can't go down for all this, if we don't help he'll come out an old man. The clincher is the shotgun, blood, it connects him to the bit of work we had the other day,' Daniel said reaching for the passenger door handle. Both shook their heads and sighed at the thought of the possibilities the authorities had.

'You know what the old bill are like, they always put things together you never thought they would. They've probably worked out us two and the other two fellers were on the bit a work as well,' Daniel said.

'The last thing I said to him was get the guns to old Charlie and come meet us to go to The Future. Next thing, he's chasing them lowlife idiots through Hackney letting shots off. Kieran man, the fuck have you done?' sighed Daniel. 'Don't go anywhere near Woodford if you can help it, Tel, its choca-block at the minute,' Daniel warned Terry as they drove up the street.

'Yeah there's a lorry on its side blocking that massive roundabout.'

Chapter 2

Snaresbrook Crown Court, Essex


THE SIRENS FROM the armed police escort still rang loudly in his head as he sat waiting for his barrister. The defendant's sense of smell had developed a greater awareness due to having spent the past seven weeks in HMP Pentonville, known locally as the ville . He'd had regular family visits but they were restricted by a reinforced plastic screen, so he was unable to hug or kiss his partner Nicola and their baby daughter Jessica. He'd been deprived of a haircut and hadn't shaved; he'd looked and felt better. Sitting in the small room, part of his legal team entered and he could now detect aftershave, which seemed familiar, Nivea body lotion and Chanel perfume.

As his barrister and young clerk entered the room, Kieran thought here we go; these people are just going to see me as another young mixed-race dangerous criminal.

Dressed in a thick navy sweater, jeans and trainers, Kieran felt tense due to weeks of on-going physical and mental battles with the prison officers and, lately, street enemies. There was a possibility of a life sentence because other murders were undergoing investigation. No physical contact with family, no contact with friends, it was rapidly developing into a heavy situation.

He was also being investigated for a major armed robbery that had recently taken place in his home county, Essex. His mind suddenly flashed back to Romford Police Station a week ago where the Flying Squad, as well as Regional Serious Crime Police, interviewed him ...

Tactically, two abrupt male officers and a calm soft speaking WPC interviewed him.

'Kieran Sears, all of you wore black balaclavas and navy boiler suits, but I believe one of the men described by the lorry driver is you, what do you have to say about that?'The Flying Squad officer said.

'No comment, 'Kieraη replied.

'You were reported to have wielded and brandished a pump style shotgun at the robbery. You took control of the lorry at the Cranbrook Industrial Estate leaving the driver taped and tied up. Days later in Dalston, East London, someone matching your description shot a man in the face with the exact same firearm.

'Four witnesses have identified you as the man who shot Mr Peterson in the face at point blank range. Was it you Mr Sears? For the benefit of the tape I'm showing Mr Sears some photos of the, very likely, fatally injured man.'The officer said as he placed six photos of the man with half a face on the table.

'No comment.'

'Kieran you should really start cooperating with us. What do you feel about the man's injuries? He's on the critical list, there's a good chance he won't make it, you're talking a life sentence without the serious robbery. Incidentally, the lorry driver is petrified to sleep; he's still having nightmares and can't work, 'the female officer interjected.

'If you help yourself now things will be a lot easier later on, you're digging yourself a deeper hole all the time you evade our questions. Think of your daughter, Jessica. She's beautiful,’ smiled the WPC. Kieran laughed to himself thinking about how caring she's pretending to be when all she's trying to do is get him banged up for the rest of his life.

'We know the other four of your gang on the Essex robbery and it's only a matter of time before we have all of you in the dock,' the frustrated Robbery Squad officer said.

'Mr Sears, will your answer be no comment to all our questions?'

'No comment.'

'Then I suppose we can conclude you're guilty of the robbery and shooting as you can't give us an explanation or your whereabouts on the day and evening in question.'

'No comment,' ...

Thinking about his last interview, Kieran sat visibly shaking, looking at the table while his legal team removed their coats and scarves. He hadn't slept recently. He'd been moved from Brixton to Pentonville Prison in the early hours and was finding it difficult to settle. Deep in thought, he was oblivious to his legal team introducing themselves.

'Morning Mr Sears, bet you've stayed at better hotels.'The pompous QC smiled as he put a copy of The Sun newspaper and forty Benson and Hedges on the table. This time Kieran acknowledged the man's words.

'Thanks, ain't had a fag in days. I'm on loss of canteen 'til tomorrow; go ta lighter? And you can call me Kieran by the way, 'he said quietly and returning the smile. The young man was taken aback by the senior barrister's concern about his welfare. The QC wore shiny black brogues, a navy pinstriped three-piece suit and colourful tie.

The barrister's voice seemed sincere. 'They have informed me you are at present in the segregation unit. I'm so sorry, my name is Gerry Stephenson, 'he stated, extending his hand. Kieran thought there must have been some Mediterranean blood in him due to his black hair and olive skin.

'Yeah ... they got me in the block, mate. One o'clock Monday morning they ghosted me out of Brixton Prison. The day I got here, I had a fight with a few guys connected to one of the people they reckon I shot. Fucking screws put me on the wing with them on purpose; I was settled at Brixton.' Kieran spoke, shaking the QC's hand. He nervously raised a sleeve of his heavy navy sweater to look at his watch. Kieran had red grazes on his wrists where prison warders had restrained him by a straightjacket the previous morning.

'Your solicitor thought it best he didn't come today in order to let you get acquainted with the QC, 'the solicitor's clerk interrupted.

'My name's Geeta by the way, 'she smiled. She was instantly attracted to his afro hairstyle, caramel coloured skin, black puppy dog eyes and mass of freckles.

'The guy that got shot in the face, is he gonna live?' Kieran asked with genuine concern, not for the victim but for whether or not he was facing a life sentence.

'Yes, he's out of hospital finally and at home, 'the barrister assured him.

A massive sense of relief ran through him; he'd often woke up in the middle of the night concerned about the man not pulling through. He'd been rushed back to the local hospital on numerous occasions with major headaches.

'Been a while since I've smelt quality perfume, the women screws all wear the overpowering cheap shit that gets right up your nostrils,' he smiled lighting a cigarette.

Kieran's now relaxed swagger brought a smile to the young clerk's face. Mr Stephenson cleared his throat before abruptly saying, 'The prosecution are pushing for two counts of attempted murder by the use of two separate shotguns, one on the Saturday and the other the following Thursday evening, Kieran. 'The barrister dropped the bundle of paperwork on the table before twirling his index finger through his beard. They heard four loud bangs on the door.

'Kieran what's happening?' As he looked towards the door, he saw a dreadlocked man shouting; he'd noticed Kieran and stopped at the window, kicking the foot of the door hard with the aid of a size twelve Timberland boot.

'Move along, you're not allowed to speak to him he's a high-risk prisoner,' the senior prisoner officer said.

'You alright man,' Kieran replied getting up from his chair and putting his fist against the glass; the tall man did the same.

'Move along,' the prison officer demanded.

'Shut up man, bodder mek man hafi switch. Hear what, man's no dickhead,' the prisoner shouted abruptly.

'What you gonna do, put me in prison? I'm already in prison.' Kieran heard his friend's voice fade in the distance as they put him in a cell at the end of the corridor.

'What are my chances?' he asked before drawing heavily on the cigarette.

'I flew in from Australia yesterday and took the opportunity of the long haul to look through integral parts of the Crown's case,' he sighed, still jet-lagged.

'What did you make of ...?' Kieran was about to ask.

'Apart from the four witness statements,' he interrupted holding his index finger mid air, 'the prosecution have not a shred of evidence to run an attempted murder trial,' he said.

'No?' smiled Kieran.

'However this case, in my opinion, is one of two indictments. forensic reports indicate shots were fired on two separate nights, Saturday, and then Thursday by two separate shotguns.'

'On the Saturday a group of males were shot at by a man brandishing a double-barrelled shotgun. They have CCTV evidence; your prints are on the discharged firearm. There is no getting away from the fact you fired the weapon. I feel we can do a deal on the basis you fired a warning shot under serious stress.'

'Further, on the Thursday a man was seriously wounded, shot in the face with a New York police-style pump action shotgun. Fortunately the evidence weighs heavily on the first evening where it can be argued you fired a warning shot in self defence,' the barrister said with a confident look.

'How?' Kieran asked feeling a huge sense of relief.

Since his arrest, he'd been worried about what the police could produce as evidence against him. Coincidently as Kieran sat back into his chair, he took a glimpse at the headline on the front page of The Sun: Ecstasy Party. That's how his emotions could be described at that moment. He felt the best he'd ever felt in the six months since being in prison awaiting trial. He actually took the front-page headline as the spiritual sign he'd been secretly praying for.

'They're holding me as a high-risk double-a category prisoner, can anything be done about ...?'

'The reason for this is obvious. It's due to your high-ranking gangland connections; let's not make any bones about that. The report states that members of your gang have sprung prisoners from transport vehicles on numerous occasions,' the defence barrister interrupted.

'The government have decided your associates, one in particular, has the financial backing and influence to get you out of a less secure prison and you know it,' he said.

'You have no chance of being downgraded to a lower category whilst on trial. During my flight I read a report which states that prominent members of your organisation have been observed scanning the routes the prison transport van would travel,' Mr Stephenson said as he flicked through some photos of the injured man.

'Horrendous,' the barrister flung the photo on the table before looking away trembling. He'd seen it all, but the photo of a man with one side of his face missing and what was left of his teeth and sewn-up gums visible looked more gruesome each time he saw it. Kieran noticed that it physically and mentally disturbed him. His actions gave Kieran a sense of emotional power, a predator preying on one inferior to him.

On the evening in question, Kieran chased the men with a shotgun. One tripped and Kieran had him at his mercy lying on the pavement, aiming the shotgun at the middle of his face. As he was about to pull the trigger, Kieran was distracted and looked away, the man moved his head and was hit to the side of the nose, removing a large part of his face.

A family had stopped in their car at the traffic lights. Their seventeen-year-old daughter looked into Kieran's eyes before he discharged the gun. In that split second, the victim moved his head a few inches to the side. If not for the distraction, he would be facing a more serious murder charge.

'Fucking pussy hole, he's going around talking tough; needed to know what time it is.' Kieran smiled as he rocked back on the chair looking at the photo. His heart thudded with a beat of excitement. He leant forward and picked up the other eleven photos before laughing. The young solicitor's clerk wasn't so convinced of his charming flirtatious side at this moment.

'How we gonna work this then?' he asked looking at the barrister.

'Well you fired a sawn-off double-barrelled shotgun at four men nine feet away and not one got hit; sounds like a warning shot to me. The ballistic reports are here and the shotgun you were arrested with wasn't the one that caused the horrific injuries to the young man in that photo,' he said looking through some other paperwork.

As the barrister spoke, Kieran thought back to that evening when, as the four men approached, he plucked the rifle from the rucksack. As he was pulling it from the bag, it discharged itself due to an insecure firing pin. He then chased them through the streets, but it failed to discharge again when he had them in range.

'Right, I plead guilty to the warning shot, then what?'

'Discharging a firearm in a public place, with your appalling previous form, I could possibly get you a ten-year sentence. On the other hand, if we contest the case in a Crown Court and you're found guilty, this judge would be likely to give you up in the region of twenty years.' Kieran's heart began beating hard once again.

'Fucking twenty, I'd have to do almost fourteen; my daughter would be ... na fuck that.'

'Alright sir, they're calling you in now, 'the jailer said after unlocking the door.

'When they ask how you plead you answer not guilty and leave the rest to me,' the barrister said.

'You're the governor here, more power to the elbow,' Kieran said. His words warmed Mr Stephenson's heart.

As Kieran was led in, he saw two armed policemen at the back of the court wielding MP5 rifles. In front of them was Kieran's mother Vera, his sister Vicky, and partner Nicola. On the other side sat the relatives of the victim's family.

'Yes ... see im deh ... you're dead pussy,' one of them shouted from the victim's side of the public gallery.

'Who you calling a pussy? You're a no-one. That's my brother. You wouldn't say it to his face to face would you? You're the pussy hole,' Vicky shouted back. She looked at him with such a cold stare, that he had to look away.

'I'll have none of that in my courtroom; any more outbursts and I'll clear the public gallery,' the judge assured the court hitting his hammer. After a quick ten-minute hearing, they escorted Kieran back to the cell. Within five minutes, the door opened and they took him from the court cell back to the visits room. Mr Stephenson was going through the paperwork again.

No sooner had he sat down and he heard, 'Ten more minutes.' The armed policeman shouted loudly. Intending to be intimidating, he knocked the door hard with the butt of his pistol. He then stood with his face two inches away from the plastic window, peering at Kieran. An hour and twenty minutes had passed quickly; it had been Kieran's most exhilarating legal visit by far. He responded by pressing the gruesome photo of the man with the side of his face missing to the window and pointing two fingers to simulate firing a gun at the policeman. Again, like the predator he was, in that moment he had gained the upper psychological hand.

'Was the blonde girl at the back of the court, wearing a pink cardigan, your partner?' Geeta asked, secretly surprised just how beautiful Kieran's partner was.

'Yeah,' smiled Kieran.

'Very beautiful.'

'Yeah she is ... thanks,' he answered.

'Look, over the years I have built an unlikely relationship with a mutual friend of ours,' Mr Stephenson explained looking at his watch as Kieran sat back down. He detected a slight discomfort in Kieran after having told him about a possible twenty-year sentence.

'All aside, I have to be professional and give you the worst possible scenario. Now look, we're running out of time; the visit is almost concluded,' he said putting his index finger on Kieran's shoulder as he looked directly into the accused man's eyes.

'In my experience I feel they will be putting you on an ID parade shortly,' he said.

'If not for the witnesses ... if they were to retract their statements and you plead guilty to the less sinister evening, I can guarantee you'll spend no more than four years in jail. You have already half a year in. Look, to be blunt, I'm sure Mr Cottle would see you spend your jail time in relative comfort.'

'How is Daniel by the way? Haven't had the pleasure of seeing him in person since I represented him at the high-profile armed robbery case back in 1980 or '81 I think it was. Yes, since then two of the original gang have life sentences for more recent armed robberies. He had a stroke of luck in that case I'll tell you,' the QC said before slipping an arm into the sleeve of his woollen coat.

'He usually makes his own luck,' smiled Kieran, happy that somehow his friend had a link with the barrister.

'You don't seem a bad chap, Mr Sears. Mr Cottle speaks very highly of you. I don't usually remain in contact with ex-clients but he called me as a favour to help you. I simply couldn't refuse,' the barrister explained. 'At the age of twenty-three, he's become a pillar of the community in East London. I always knew he had the character,' he said.

'Can you finish up now please?' the prison officer asked from outside the door.

'I got a visit booked, my mate Terry's coming tomorrow. And forget the Sears bit, just Kieran will do,' he said raising his eyebrows.This was Kieran's way of saying he'll go to work on the witnesses. The solicitor's clerk had spent the duration taking notes.

'No surely not tomorrow. Do you have visits on Christmas Eve?' Mr Stephenson asked.

'It's the twenty-third tomorrow,' Geeta said correcting the QC.

'I have to ask you something Kieran. I read the social worker's report when we were preparing mitigating arguments for Daniel's pre-sentence hearing. He was just nine years of age, to go through what he had to. That was a horrific ordeal and he was just a child.'

Mr Stephenson's words caused Kieran to stare into his eyes with a look of sadness.

'Last time, please can we finish up now its half past?' The warder appeared flustered as he and three others entered the room.

'Maybe another time,' the QC said as the officers were putting the handcuffs on their prisoner.

'Oh and before I forget, I know you've had better but I'd like to say Merry Christmas, Kieran.'

'Merry Christmas,' the young man replied with a smile. He knew he was in safe hands because his friend Daniel had appointed the barrister.

'Merry Christmas, and I hope you don't have to spend too many in here,' Geeta added as the prison officer put the second set of handcuffs on him.

'Thanks, Merry Christmas,' he smiled.

'I'm sorry but I'll have to insist you finish the visit sir...'

Chapter 3

M25 Motorway Café, Essex


'Where the fuck do we get a tablet making machine, Dan?'

'I got a Paki mate I can talk to; Yance's mate, Iftica's uncles got a chain of chemists. Leave that to me Tel, I got that covered. Look, we got our own things going on but Kieran gets an equal share out of the ee (ecstasy) business. His dough from the van the other day will be gone by the time he gets out, so I'm going to put it in so he gets an equal share.'

'Come on it's only right, Dan.'

West Side, Pentonville Prison

Next Day

Kieran walked into a small makeshift visit room in Pentonville Prison. They moved him around in the prison as they did with the IRA during that time: lots of commotion with officers shouting at one another.

Finally, they reached the room with its two visit tables. His girlfriend, their child, and friend Terry colourfully lit up the small dull room.

'There's not even a canteen Kier,' moaned Nicola as three prison officers escorted him towards the table. He looked toned; this brought an uncontrollable smile to Terry's face.

One officer held a black book in his hand; his job was to write down anything unusual that Kieran did or said. Cheekily, they had him cosily sat at the table as though he was one of the visitors.

'No fucking canteen,' he smiled. 'Not how you been or are you alright ...'

'I know you can more that take care of yourself,' she said as she squeezed his tiny waist.

'Tel, how's it going ... looking well mate,' Kieran commented seeing his friend. He actually looked more Mediterranean when he'd caught the sun.

'Just got back from Tenerife.'

'Yeah go on fucking rub it in mate, fucking Tenerife,' both laughed as they sat down at the table.

'Kieran they've got you on the book (held as a Category A prisoner) like some terrorist mate.'

'Tell me about it.'

'Who's that on the other table?' Terry asked.

'Knightsbridge safe deposit box robber.'

'Oh, the Italian ... Valerio Viccei?' Terry asked with a surprised glance in the robber's direction.

'Come sweetie, sit here with Dad,' Kieran said to his daughter.

'Excuse me would you like to follow me through to the main visit hall to get some refreshments?' A woman officer asked, seemingly appearing from nowhere.

'Yeah, come on then. What do you want babe .... chocolate, crisps and all that?'

'Yeah Nic, that'll do.'

As she walked off out of the room, Kieran immediately pulled Terry close to him and whispered in his ear, 'Four prosecution witnesses have got to be straightened out; my brief's going to send out the paperwork.'

'If you do that again I'll have no hesitation to terminate the visit,' the officer was quick to his feet as he spoke. He was contemplating stopping the visit there and then. Kieran knew he risked jeopardising all future family visits but his action couldn't be avoided. The way he saw it, ten years less spent in there or lose a visit.

'I need to hear every word said by all of you. You know the rules,' the officer said.

'I had an affair mate, I was just ... I can't let her find out,' Kieran's excuse slightly eased the nerves of the officer.

'Stume mate your missus is coming ... I'll make sure she don't find out you can count on it mate, sorted,' Terry whispered as he saw Nicola coming back with a tray.

'Here you go babe,' she said, placing the tray on the table.

This is for you,' she said picking up a Milky Bar and unwrapping it for their little girl.

HMP Lowdam Grange, Nottinghamshire

March 1993

He was arrested for two counts of attempted murder, briefly before the acid-ecstasy party scene began, but had been released at the height of it. Mr Stephenson's predictions were not totally correct. To the QC's surprise, the prosecution were not prepared to do any sort of deal with Kieran pleading guilty to a lesser charge so they elected to take it to trial.

Kieran's words were,' All or nothing'. Pleading guilty to attempted murder would have meant a fourteen-year sentence. Getting found guilty meant a twenty-year sentence, either way he wouldn't have seen his little girl, Jessica, grow up and would have almost certainly had to say good-bye to his beloved Nicola.

Fighting the case and leaving his fate to a jury was the third option. The judge and prosecution fought hard to get Kieran a guilty verdict on the attempted murder charge but, by law, the judge had to give them all the options. Attempted murder, wounding with intent or self-defence were the choices put to the jury.

Due to the witnesses changing their minds on what and whom they actually saw that evening, the jury found him not guilty on the attempted murder, but found him guilty for possession and discharging a firearm in a public place. Kieran received an excessively high twelve-year sentence, later reduced to ten at the court of appeal.

Kieran sat in his cell with two associates watching an FA cup game on TV when he heard a knock at the cell door.

'Yeah come in.' Géorgie Stokes entered. He was a well-respected South London gangster connected to Kieran's close friend, Daniel Cottle. The cell was thick with hashish smoke fumes and it wasn't to the taste of the ageing criminal.

'Don't know how you lot can smoke that fucking gear,' he said squinting his eyes. 'Looks like you won't have to worry about that little firm you were having murders with son,' the sixty-two-year-old said as he passed Kieran a copy of the News of the World. Kieran got up off the bed in order to take in the front-page headline:

Execution on Streets of London

Notorious gangland boss, Eustace 'Jabber' Peterson and three other men shot dead by what appears to be an Uzi Sub Machine Gun ...

Underneath the headline, there was a picture of a Saab convertible car with bullet holes through the windscreen and side windows.

Police are saying at this stage it could possibly be a revenge attack but can't be sure and are appealing for witnesses. The athletic-built gunman walked calmly around the vehicle shooting at his victims, changing the magazine of the firearm before calmly getting back onto a high-powered motorbike and rode away with an accomplice...

'Fuck me,' he smiled as he sat back down on the bed to read the article.

'We know who you got to thank for that,' the man said with a wink as he closed the door behind him.

Kieran instantly knew Daniel Cottle himself, or one of his associates, had carried out the hit. The men killed had sworn to get even with Kieran for the shooting he was in prison for. Another street war would be bad for business, so the four main heads of the gang were tricked into being at a spot where the killers could get away with relative ease.

'Keep a look out for screws,' Kieran said to one of his associates as he reached for his Marvel Milk tin. After unscrewing the bottom off his specially adapted tin, he retrieved his small mobile phone wrapped in cling film.

'Hear about them firm getting ironed out?' he asked as Daniel answered the call. Kieran was now laughing and knew Daniel had personally taken care of it.

'Yeah fucking shame eh?' Daniel commented.

'What, who d'ya reckon? Kieran innocently asked.

'Guess we'll never know, them cunts had so many enemies,' Daniel commented. They had to play along because they could never be sure who was listening in.

'You're out in a month Kieran. I'll be there to pick you up with your daughter Jessica. I promised, remember?'

'It'll be strange seeing my little girl without a poxy visit table between us mate. Listen Dan, I'll call you back after bang-up tonight there's loads of screws about mate. Cunts are on the warpath trashing cells looking for mobiles.'

Chapter 4

Epping Forest

April 1993

AFTER BEING OUT for just five days, Kieran was still high on ecstasy from his coming home party. His friends Daniel and Terry had arranged an all-night party at a friend's wine bar in Walthamstow, East London.

If there was one man who could get Daniel Cottle laughing on a bad day, it was Kieran. Most people feared Kieran, and not many liked him. Mr Cottle was one of few he respected and they had been close since they met on a three-month juvenile sentence at Send Detention Centre at the age of fourteen.

Daniel would even come back from visiting him in prison in high spirits; Kieran just had that effect on him. Daniel admired his guts and for a strange reason, his no-nonsense rude manner, ignorance and abruptness.

'Nice new kettle (wrist-watch) Dan. Looks antique.' He commented, still trying to fathom how the three little white tablets had given him such a divine high. Daniel was in a foul mood, but just seeing Kieran's cheeky grin, and thinking back to one of his fascinating armed robbery tales, made him smile. He also realised at that moment how much he'd missed his right hand man not being around for the past five years. Daniel trusted him and Terry like no others.

'Slip that watch off mate, giss it ere,' Kieran said with a snarl before clamping his palm around Daniel's wrist pretending to rob him of his expensive timepiece.

'Fuck off cunt, you'll make us crash, fucking mad man,' Daniel shouted. Kieran, pretending to demand Daniel's watch, brought a smile to his face because whilst robbing the local post office or Securicor van he'd start with the same action.

Kieran smiled at Daniel as he loosened the grip on his wrist. It was a look of pure admiration of how his friend always carried and presented himself. With his soft afro brown skin and hazel-green eyes, he looked more like a black pop star than one of the nation's most feared gangsters.

'Yeah criss watch breddah Patek Philippe,' he said removing his hand from the gearstick to admire the watch once more.

'Give ten grand for it, bought it off a geezer called Malcolm; second-hand shop call second time round,' he explained. He had to speak loudly because the nineties' house anthem Let the Music Use You thumped out of the upgraded Alpine car hi-fi. As they passed the Ford showroom at Woodford, they both caught the impressive reflection of Daniel's new Porsche.

'Christmas the year I got nicked, came through here in the sweatbox Dan. There was a mad traffic jam that day. It feels all that much sweeter now. It's like a fucking dream; I'm fucking free mate. I feel on top of the world boys,' a slightly tearful Kieran shouted, not able to contain his emotions. The fact his gang had hit top form, the breeze hitting his face and the smell of German leather made Kieran feel ecstatic.

'Yeah you were in trouble mate,' Daniel laughed.

'Dan, I can't thank you enough mate. For everything, the fucking shit hot QC Gerry ... and just everything, you're always there for me mate ... more than I'm there for you,' he explained, wiping a tear away with his sleeve.

'Cool man, what are friends for? Gerry is alright, but most of them QCs and solicitors are fucking prostitutes mate, scummy bastards. Pay them enough and they'll get you out, if you don't they'll get you convicted,'Daniel said. He floored the accelerator hitting one hundred and thirty mph from seventy in a relatively short period. The speed brought a sudden rush to all three men.

'Something's bothering you Dan,' Terry said. He'd been intently looking into Daniel's eyes from the back seat in the rear-view mirror. Daniel's two closest friends knew him better than most.

'Dan, this motor fucking shifts mate,' Terry commented as the force of the car had him pinned to the back seat much so he thought his chest felt like it wanted to join his back. Terry's words were slurred and Daniel detected he was coming off his high.

'It's not a standard three six turbo; I've had it chipped up to more than five hundred and fifty brake-horse, man.'

'He's right Dan, I thought the same thing ... what is it mate?' Kieran asked as he rested his fist on Daniel's shoulder.

'You've looked pissed off since you picked us up,' he explained as they pulled onto a slip road driving through the forest.There wasn't another car in sight.

'You ain't said anything since we

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