The Advertiser can reveal shocking links between gangsters Peter and Stephen Clarke and Liverpool’s most notorious street gang.
In November, the brothers were sentenced to 26 years in prison for running a drug export business, backed up with guns and violence. Stephen lived in Westerdale Drive, Banks, and Peter’s home was in Glebelands, Tarleton.
But now an investigation has uncovered how former soldier Peter Clarke was linked to the Croxteth Young Guns (CYG) gang, which terrorised the streets of north Liverpool. Former cage fighter Paul Kelly, who pushed heroin to the CYG, was the Clarkes’ link to the gang.
Despite the Clarkes’ close relationship with Kelly and the CYG, they inhabited a very different world to the street crew. Stephen and Peter lived in executive homes deep in suburban West Lancashire , drove prestigious cars and enjoyed foreign holidays to Dubai and America, while the CYG lived in some of the city’s poorest postcodes.
The CYG used guns, firebombs and unlicensed scrambler bikes to back up their operations. Leaders Anthony Jewell, Mark Thomas, and Barry Burke were jailed for a total 61 years. Ryan Holden, Kyle Smith- Milson, Sam Hughes and Sean Byrne received a combined 52 years in jail.
The Advertiser can now reveal the details of how the gangs were brought down after police arrested drug dealer Paul Bennett, an arrest which in turn sparked a series of raids.
Bennett, who worked for Peter Clarke, was arrested on April 25, 2012. He was caught with 10kg of cocaine in the back of his van, and police later found an arsenal of weapons in his garage.
The Advertiser now understands that Bennett’s tea-time arrest was a crucial event which triggered a wave of raids on the streets of north Liverpool at 7am the following day, targeting the CYG leadership.
Matrix officers also stormed a house in Longfellow Close, Kirkby, which was linked to Peter Clarke, and three weeks later police arrested Paul Kelly at his West Derby home. The opening statements for the police operations now reveal that Peter Clarke owned a house in Longfellow Close, and that Clarke’s lieutenant Gordon Fisk drove to the street hours after Bennett’s arrest.
When police raided a house in Longfellow Close which was linked to Peter Clarke, Liverpool man Paul Byron was arrested at the scene and later charged with possession of cannabis with intent to supply.
Just five months earlier, former MMA fighter Paul Kelly was spotted by the police in the vicinity of the CYG drugs den in a two-car convoy with associates.
Police stopped one of the cars nearby and found 1.5kg of high purity heroin under the passenger seat, worth around £90,000.
Kelly and his accomplice Christopher McGirr also frequented the same Kirkdale gym as Stephen Clarke.
The Advertiser has only recently learned of the significance of Longfellow Close to the operation. Peter Clarke owned one house and was linked to a neighbouring property, both of which were used by the CYG.
This clear evidence of a significant link between the Clarkes and the CYG suggests an extremely close relationship between two huge police operations – Redstart, which targeted the Clarkes, and Poppy, which concentrated on the CYG.
The fact that police launched raids targeting the CYG hours after the arrest of Bennett suggest the very highest degree of coordination between Redstart and Poppy. The North West regional crime unit (Titan) and Matrix were targeting a sprawling, Europe-wide organised crime group which stretched from the streets of Croxteth to Ireland, Holland and Spain.
Former cage fighter Paul “Tellys” Kelly was the Clarkes’ representative to the upper echelons of the CYG. Kelly was close to the Clarkes, and a childhood friend of CYG boss Mark “Tomo” Thomas. He began selling drugs for the family after his fighting career spiralled into decline.
The welterweight prodigy went from fighting at the world famous Mandalay Bay hotel, in Las Vegas, to pushing heroin to a violent street gang. Kelly was happy to associate with a gang that set fire to a young mum’s house as she slept with her baby, but he became enraged when the Advertiser began reporting on his drugs’ trial.
The Clarkes grew up in Walton, and had a network of relations and close friends across the north of the city. Peter Clarke joined the Army as a young man and had little criminal reputation, until he became implicated in a high-profile murder while home on leave.
Clarke was found guilty of shooting dead Netherley man Stephen Lawlor, and jailed for life. He spent time on Strangeways’ Category A wing. He was later cleared on appeal, and on release joined his elder brother in Banks, near Southport.
Stephen’s story dates back to the infamous Wolfpack gang of the late 1980s, whose members were handpicked for their street fighting prowess. In the early 1990s, Stephen Clarke became involved in the security industry, amid the infamous “door wars” period when rival firms jostled for supremacy.
In 1995, Stephen was gunned down in Seel Street. During a trial the following year, the court heard that Stephen had identified members of the “Farley firm” as the men responsible for the attack.
Stephen’s brother, Ian, was shot dead in 2001 during a separate spate of violent feuds and fall-outs in south Liverpool. In the wake of his brother’s death, Stephen began carrying a gun for his own protection, and he was later jailed for possession of a firearm.
After relocating to Banks, Stephen Clarke was happy to run his security company and dabble in cannabis production knowing that his fearsome reputation kept rival firms at bay. But Peter was ambitious, and soon began mixing with some of the city’s more notorious gunmen, and dealing in Class A drugs. He was rumoured to possess a machine gun, and his DNA was later found on an Ingram MAC10 sub-machine gun.
A spokesman for the North West regional crime unit, Titan, said the squad did not want to be drawn on the links between the groups and “other sensitive matters”. But he said: “Titan is delighted with the lengthy prison sentences handed down to this violent and dangerous criminal gang – the public are a great deal safer with the likes of Stephen and Peter Clarke safely behind bars.”