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I WILL SEE HIM DEAD; Exclusive Gangland widow's vow of revenge for gun killing of her beloved son.

Byline: By Derek Alexander

THE widow of notorious gangland godfather Arthur Thompson took out a deathbed contract on arch-rival Paul Ferris, it was claimed last night.

Rita Thompson - who left an estimated pounds 2million - told pals she wanted her will to pay for a gangland hit on former mobster Ferris, who was cleared of murdering her son Arthur jnr in 1992.

She revealed her dying wish when she was told she was losing her battle with throat cancer, according to a former henchman of her late husband.

The 72-year-old Glasgow crime family matriarch died last month.

Former gangland hitman Tam Bagan says that heartbroken Rita still blamed Ferris for the gun killing of her son, who was known as Fat Boy.

And she swore to get vengeance for his death even from beyond the grave.

Bagan, who was a trusted lieutenant of Thompson snr, is a former friend of Ferris.

The 50-year-old worked alongside Ferris as an enforcer for Thompson before his son's death in 1991.

Ferris and Bagan were often asked to act as bodyguards for Arthur jnr.

Bagan, from Blantyre, Lanarkshire, said: "Rita had a terrible life, it was just awful.

"She married the wrong man but stuck with him through thick and thin, even when her family was ripped apart.

"Rita became very bitter and twisted after everything she'd gone through.

"It's well known that she wanted some of the inheritance money to pay for a contract on Ferris.

"Rita hated everyone in the end but she hated Ferris the most.

"She said, 'On my deathbed, I'll see that man dead.'

"That's how much she despised him. She blamed Ferris for young Arthur's death and she could never let the hatred go.

"Ferris is aware of this. It's been known for a while that Rita wanted some of what cash is left to pay for a contract.

"Obviously, whoever inherits the Thompson fortune will decide if Rita gets her wish and how much it costs.

"The whole situation with the Thompsons got out of control.

"I remember telling Arthur snr that he should get his family out of Glasgow and move to a second home he owned in Rothesay.

"But he refused to budge. He didn't want to retire and get his family away from the gangland scene.

"Rita would've gone for it back then but he didn't fancy it and in the end every one of them suffered for it."

It was revealed last month that a police investigation into Thompson's finances in the early 1990s estimated his wealth at around pounds 10million. He died in 1993 at the age of 63.

But Bagan, who now runs a heating business in Ayrshire, says he reckons the family fortune is now worth around a fifth of that figure.

The cash was to be left to daughter Tracey, 41, who is also the owner of the family's customised council house in Provanmill, Glasgow, nicknamed the Ponderosa.

He said: "There's been a lot of figures flying about and, while Rita wasn't skint, she didn't have a huge fortune.

"I worked closely with Thompson and did a lot of his dirty work.

"There's probably about pounds 2million stashed, although people expect there to be much more."

Convicted bank robber Bagan was jailed for 12 years in 1995 for a bungled raid on a security van.

He claimed at the trial at the High Court in Glasgow that he'd been framed for the robbery by Ferris and crime boss Tam "The Licensee" McGraw.

He also named seven police officers who he claimed were on The Licensee's payroll.

Bagan had previously been sentenced to 20 years in prison for a double gangland shooting in which two brothers almost died. The shootings had been ordered by Thompson snr.

He said last night: "Ferris and I have hardly spoken since I was freed from prison. He's interested in writing books and making documentaries which is something I'd rather stay away from, although I've had some interesting offers.

"I'm happy with the business I have and leading a quiet life out of crime."

Last night, Ferris confirmed he was aware of Rita's dying wish but insisted he wasn't concerned.

He said: "If people think that I'm the only person Rita Thompson might bear a grudge against, they're wrong. There's a long, long list starting much closer to her home.

"If she did leave money for a hit, there's one happy man around - paid for the job but the customer isn't here to see the workdone. He'd just walk away and pocket the cash.

"Though I had my disagreements with her husband, I bore no ill will against Rita."

CAPTION(S):

EMPIRE: Arthur Thompson snr and Rita, top. Above, their home, dubbed The Ponderosa by locals' CLAIMS: Ex-mobster Bagan' ENEMIES: Paul Ferris, main picture. Above, gangland hit victim Arthur Thompson jnr PA
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 3, 2006
Words:806
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