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West Lancashire Brother's link to Liverpool gang revealed

Clarkes connected to criminals responsible for shootings and fire bombings across Liverpool

Peter Clarke, left and brother Stephen Clarke

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.”

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