GANGSTER Peter Clarke phoned a drug dealer who was sat in the back of a police car after being caught with a £3m cocaine haul in Tarleton.
Clarke called Paul 'Little Feet' Bennett after receiving a text from the drug courier warning him that police had pulled over his van.
Police stopped Bennett's Vivaro in Southport New Road on the pretext that it did not have a valid licence. When officers asked Bennett if there might be drugs in the vehicle, he responded : ‘‘In the holdall behind the seat.’’
Bennett was a low-level operative in Clarke's gang, moving guns and drugs around the Southport area. After discovering 10kg of 75% pure cocaine in the back of the van police went to his lock up in Ainsdale where they found an arsenal of weapons which included a sawn-off pump- action shotgun, Glock pistol, Luger handgun and two revolvers, ammo, silencers, two machetes, samurai swords, stun guns and batons.
The Advertiser can now reveal that following Bennett's text Clarke tipped off other gang members and then fled his Tarleton home with his accomplice Gordon ‘Bombhead’ Fisk.
The two men and their families travelled to Ribby Hall caravan park near Blackpool, and then on to Center Parcs near Nottingham.
While on holiday the seizure of the weapons haul at the lock-up was a ‘hot topic’ of conversation, although Clarke and Fisk were unaware that a covert police surveillance team was tracking their movements while they were in 'exile.'
On May 4, Clarke returned to Tarleton and made a call to a Spanish mobile number from a telephone kiosk, which was recorded.
He said: ‘‘I’ve shot back down my area to see my friend cos he’s been round and got some paperwork for us which are details of what’s gone on so I’ve got some er, you know it’s gives like a statement off an officer that’s the arresting officer… stuff like that”.
These revelations formed part of the prosecution’s opening on the day when the Clarkes’ gang was sentenced to 96 years in prison. Although these details were not read out in court, the Crown Prosecution Service has since released the information to the Advertiser.
The document states that after Bennett's arrest Clarke's gang would have been viewed with suspicion by criminals higher up the supply chain, who may have thought that the disappearance of such a large amount of drugs had been fabricated.
The court papers also reveal several of the more bizarre details surrounding Clarke's life. The 35-year-old was watched by police calling in to Pets at Home on Aintree Retail Park, where be bought dog repellent spray. The gang used the spray to deter sniffer dogs from finding the drugs while in transit to Northern Ireland.
Clarke also met a top Dutch gangster in a north Cheshire Little Chef.
When police executed a warrant at Clarke's five-bedroom executive home in Glebelands, they discovered a golf ball-sized package of amphetamine in the fridge. Clarke, a former corporal in the King's Regiment, was also linked by prosecutors to a bank account named Jakas which at one point contained £1.8m, although he disputed much of this evidence. After arrest Clarke refused to speak and answered ‘no comment’ to many of the questions put to him.
Clarke, of Glebelands, Tarleton, was sentenced to 16 years in prison in November after pleading guilty to drug and firearms offences. Bennett, of Pilling Close, Southport, was jailed for 14 years in 2012 after pleading guilty to gun and drug charges. Clarke’s brother Stephen, of Westerdale Drive, Banks, was jailed for 10 years and six months for his role.