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Southport gangster was on a cocaine bender when police raided his home

GANGSTER Paul Lawler was “off his trolley” after a heavy cocaine session when police raided his West Lancashire home.

GANGSTER Paul Lawler was “off his trolley” after a heavy cocaine session when police raided his West Lancashire home.

Lawler, 36, made the confession to detectives after officers stormed his executive property in Banks on the day they cracked down on a serious organised crime gang based in the area.

Lawler, a former Birkdale High pupil, was jailed for 10 years after Preston Crown Court heard that he was a trusted member of a gang headed by feared gangsters Peter and Stephen Clarke.

The revelations surrounding Lawler’s drug use 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.

We can now reveal that Lawler told detectives he was “off his trolley” after snorting a massive amount of cocaine the night before police raided his home in Westerdale Drive.

He tried to flush balls of the drug down the toilet wrapped up in tissue paper, but they bobbed back up and were recovered by police.

Lawler told police he was addicted to cocaine and binged on the drug every night of the week. The dad said he normally spent around £2,400 per month on coke but added that he “done five grand last night”. The 15- stone thug, who once trained at a mixed martial arts gym in Ainsdale, also said he smoked four to five cannabis joints a day. Police found traces of cocaine on his kitchen scales.

When asked about the substantial cannabis crop in his garage, Lawler initially said the drugs were for his personal use, before conceding that he might sell some drugs to help pay bills.

Surveillance and mobile phone patterns revealed that Lawler was a trusted member of the gang, discussing the minutiae of the drug dealing enterprise with the Clarkes. He lived next door to Stephen Clarke, whom he trained with and was often a passenger in Clarke’s Jaguar.

When he was asked if he split the drug money with the Clarkes he said: “I wish you’d get them out of the equation ’cos it’s nothing to do with them. I have nothing to do with them . . .

“My life is my life. You’re trying to involve me in something that I don’t know anything about or don’t know about or don’t know what they get up to if or not they’ve done anything wrong. So guilty by association, is it?”

When questioned about his direct involvement in drug dealing he said: “I’ve told you, I’ve told you I don’t know nothing about any drugs, just because someone’s phoned me on the phone, doesn’t mean I’m selling drugs, does it? I can only answer you what I’m doing, and I can’t remember six months ago if I spoke to someone on the phone.”

Questioned about his financial circumstances, he said: “Just go and do your homework on my finance so (inaudible) I’m skint, I’ve got nothing so that’s all I’m going to say.” He concluded by saying: “Just because you’re going down in luck doesn’t mean you turn to crime.”

We can also reveal that Peter Clarke handed Lawler £10,000 in cash after Stephen Clarke beat a teenager senseless outside a Tarleton pub. The Clarkes feared a visit from the police and did not want the cash to be found.

The document also reveals that Lawler was a childhood friend of Paul Bennett, who was the gang’s quartermaster.

The part-time caretaker, nicknamed “Little Feet”, was caught with 10kg of cocaine in the back of his van and was linked to an arsenal of weapons in an Ainsdale lock-up, which included a sawn-off pump-action shotgun, a Glock pistol, a Luger pistol and two revolvers, ammunition, silencers, two machetes, samurai swords, stun guns and batons.

When asked why he suddenly appeared near the lock-up after Bennett’s arrest, Lawler said it was just coincidence. After Bennett was charged and remanded in custody, Lawler handed police documents relating to the incident to Manchester criminals, and later visited Bennett in Walton prison.

Lawler was jailed for 10 years at Preston Crown Court, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A and Class B drugs.

In 1998, Lawler was caught trying to smuggle cannabis into Lancaster Farm young offenders institute, and had numerous convictions for violence and criminal damage.

Stephen Clarke, of Westerdale Drive, was sentenced to 10 years and six months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class B drugs, conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm and to actual bodily harm.

Peter Clarke, of Glebelands, Tarleton, was sentenced to 16 years in prison after pleading guilty to drugs and firearms offences. The police surveillance operation began in January 2011 and ended in September 2012 with the arrests of Lawler and the Clarkes.

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