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ON COCAINE AND OUT OF CONTROL.

Thug Paul Ferris would do anything for godfather Arthur Thompson Snr - as long as he was paid for it, as Chief Reporter ANNA SMITH reveals. Ferris spoke to TV director and writer Gus McAuley. The Record has not paid Ferris

Headstrong and ruthless, by the age of 19 Paul Ferris had become a vicious disciple of gang leader Arthur Thompson Snr.

Whatever the Thompson organisation asked Ferris to do, he did -almost without question. He claims he was never the instigator of a string of brutal crimes, but he certainly enforced them in a cold and calculated way.

Charged up on cocaine supplied by Thompson, Ferris answered his every call to stab, to shoot or to maim.

If he had a conscience, he did not show it - the only thing he craved was power, money and the drugs which were freely available at Thompson's home.

His early days with the evil empire read like something from the script of Hollywood's Mafia film Goodfellas.

Gangsters duped by other "hoods" in drugs deals, shootings, slashings and grassing to the police became part of his everyday life.

The mafia-style Thompson and his "loyal" henchman had a complete relationship that was to lead to the downfall and deaths of countless men.

Ferris claims he was in awe of Thompson Snr and insists he "occasionally" questioned why he was carrying out those sickening crimes. But carry them out he did.

He said: "I was utterly infatuated by their success and their wealth. And I, for one, desperately wanted to be part of it."

He witnessed and freely participated in a world where shootings were commonplace and where even policemen were implicated.

Ferris claims that corrupt police in Glasgow worked closely with Thompson Snr and another well- known Glasgow godfather.

He said: "The two of them not only ran their crime syndicates with the blessing of the police, but all three became associated partners in another racket - flesh trading.

"They had Thompson in his legendary, self-created role as the godfather informing his police colleagues on everybody and anybody who so much as coughed at any time of the day or night."

As Glasgow's major resetter, Thompson knew all criminal traffic that passed through the city on a daily basis.

Ferris said: "Anything that was stolen went back to him for re-sale anyway, and so, to keep his own hassle- free empire grinding and to the mutual benefit of their partnership, he passed on the information to the boys in blue as to where and when it was sold and by whom. Arthur Thompson could fill a jail any day of the week."

Ferris claims some police actually gave Thompson financial advice on how to invest the proceeds of crime in mortgages and business.

He said: "They would recommend what legitimate clients and businesses be used in order to process and clean up the illicit finances. And, as always, the police got their usual percentage by putting someone of their choice in the frame."

Ferris's "duties" involved recovering money for the Thompson family. Once he was asked to bring back pounds 50,000 which had been conned out of the family during a drug transaction.

The family wanted to save face - and they wanted Ferris to do that for them. The result was a series of stabbings and beatings carried out by Ferris.

The culmination was a brutal showdown at a set of traffic lights. One of the men involved in the con had bragged he would shoot Ferris if he came close.

By chance, this same man happened to be sitting in front of Ferris at the lights. Ferris seized the opportunity, leaping from the car and asking the man who he was.

Ferris said: "He says to me `who the **** are you?' Repeatedly stabbing him about the body, I said `I'm the little b****** you are going to shoot.

"All hell broke loose in the car, arousing his Alsatian dog who had jumped from the back seat and sunk its teeth into my arm. I had no choice but to stab the dog."

When the lights changed, the hood sped away with Ferris chasing. Blood pouring from him, he staggered into a police station naming Ferris as his attacker.

But, as Ferris discovered, the stabbing need not have happened and he was being used by the Thompsons for his own ends. He said: "I found out weeks later that he had never, in fact, uttered those threatening words and that the whole maddening episode wasall just a devious orchestration by the Thompsons to play one violent ego off another with the usual disastrous consequences."

Ferris also said he was sent by Thompson to do a job for a prominent Glasgow boxing promoter.

He recalled: "On arriving at his office, he stated that he had some work for me to do. I asked what that would be. `Oh, I need this young boxer slashed, son.'

"At that, two things immediately came to my mind. One, I was getting called son and I hated it. Secondly, I'm thinking to myself, what do they think I am? A ******* mercenary or what?

"Anyway, to satisfy my own curiosity, I asked what the job was worth. At first he wasn't too sure, then he decided that the figure of pounds 500 would be appropriate.

"A despicable request from a cowardly creep. Just at that moment, I felt like giving him a pasting and telling him to stuff his blood money but, for my own political reasons, I decided to keep my options open."

Ferris said he later found out the boxer did get slashed. The reason for the attack - he would not sign up to the promoter's stable.

He said: "That very same boxer very wisely joined a rival promoter and eventually went on to become a great success in the ring.

"In retrospect, if I had committed common assault against the boxer at the time, it would have been utterly shameful because I would have destroyed his ambitions for a measly pounds 500 - not even the cost of a good night on the razzle."

The experience soured Ferris and the seeds of distrust began to grow in his mind that, to the Thompsons he would always be a hired hand to carry out their warped obsessions.

He said: "As I walked out of this guy's door and into the cool light of day, I had to ask myself some serious but simple questions. What is really going on here?

"Do the Thompsons now just see me as a raving maniac who can be programmed at their devious will solely for the purposes of perpetrating extreme acts of violence upon their chosen victims while they sit on their fat butts watching Coronation Street? In hindsight, that was obviously the case.

"However, rather naively, all I was striving to achieve and prove to them in those early days was my worth and loyalty to them so that, possibly in the near future, they would turn round and offer me a partnership in the business. It just never happened.Not to me or anyone else."

Shortly after, Ferris was once again to wonder how far the Thompsons would ask him to go.

Arthur Thompson Jnr was arrested after police chased him for 60 miles - during which they saw him throwing packets of drugs out of the window.

At his trial, the Thompsons were convinced he had been fitted up and that a senior Strathclyde detective had tampered with forensic evidence.

By this stage, they had become so assured of their own powers that they plotted to blow up the detective.

Ferris was asked if he would be willing to park a car downtown that would be triggered with an explosive device. Then a disguised telephone call would be made to police saying a car was full of drugs and where it was.

Ferris said: "The obvious point here being that the cop would hot-foot it down to the spot, lever the car boot open and boom! All the colours of the rainbow and permanent retirement for the cop.

"Now we all have our legitimate grievances and, when necessary, proceed to apply our chosen methods of destruction, but a fatal incident of that nature would have brought us firmly into line with the Colombians."

Despite their doubts, Ferris and his henchman Tam Bagan continued as enforcers. They collected anything from pounds 2000 to pounds 6000 a time - the proceeds of drugs or bank robberies.

For every lift, they were paid around pounds 1500. Ferris reckons they collected in the region of pounds 50,000 and were paid breadcrumbs in comparison.

By now he had begun to use cocaine, a use encouraged by the Thompsons.

He said: "I didn't hide it from the Thompsons. I mean, it got to the blatant stage in their house. When I went into where the firearms were kept, I would also dip into this cigarette packet that always contained about an ounce of cocaine and help myself.

"I had no guilt or fear of doing so for they knew that I was on the nick. In fact, they were positively encouraging me by always leaving it out for me each time that I was about to embark on an errand."

IN the midst of the bloodlust, Ferris returned to his lifetime crusade - revenge on the Welsh brothers.

From the age of nine, he had been terrorised by the brothers who ruled Glasgow's Blackhill district. Once, aged just 12, they hanged him from a tree and left him for dead.

Ferris described his vicious attack with typical relish: "This evening I was walking down the Royston Road and who should I spot on the other side but Martin Welsh. Not being one to miss such an opportunity, I crossed over towards him.

"Pulling out my Bowie knife, I grabbed his hair and ran the sharp blade around his scalp, thus removing his dandruff and anything else that was perched upon the b*******'s skull.

"One thing was now for sure. He'd be wearing a bunnet for a while. So it was RIP for Martin Welsh's scalp and, at long last, RIP for that particular vendetta."

Inevitably, Ferris, still only 19, would end up in court again. This time it was on four charges of attempted murder after he was sent by the Thompsons to shoot hoodlum William Gibson for informing on Arthur Jnr.

Gibson, facing charges for car ringing, informed to escape prosecution and fled to England after his old boss was jailed for 10 years. His mistake was to return, thinking the matter would be forgotten.

Ferris, who saw him in Glasgow, reported to Thompson Snr. Ferris said: "Arthur asked me if I would be prepared to shoot Gibson. On agreeing, I was given a stolen Colt 45. We shook hands and I left to consider my options.

"And so the moment came. The Gibson family were returning home to their house from an evening out in the local pub. They had just crossed over the motorway bridge when the pack struck.

"The Colt 45 was pointed directly at William Gibson who, obviously being a movie buff, pulled his female in front of him.

"A warning shot was fired to scare the **** out of them. It did, for in the ensuing panic, Gibson's brother rapidly leapt over the side of the motorway bridge to hit the deck some way below."

More shots were fired at the fleeing Gibsons and one of them was shot in the leg. Ferris was later charged with four attempted murders, but acquitted on a not proven verdict by the jury.

Ferris added: "This means the jury thought that I was the man but never quite believed it.

"Neither did I, is what I told the Press afterwards."

Gunned down at The Ponderosa FOR 30 years, Arthur Thompson senior was Scotland's most feared gangster.

He died in his bed at his beloved Ponderosa, his family's lavishly-converted council house, in Glasgow's Provanmill Road.

Ironically, after three failed assassination attempts, a heart attack finally killed him in 1993.

Two years earlier, Arthur junior had died in his father's arms after being gunned down outside the family headquarters.

Paul Ferris was acquitted of that murder in Scotland's longest criminal trial, emerging from the court with his arms outstretched.

It was from the Ponderosa that Arthur senior orchestrated his gangland empire. There he was untouchable.

But it was the fear of assassination that drove Thompson to put the cash squeeze on Glasgow carpet firm boss Peter Ferguson - a situation Ferris says drove Ferguson to take his own life.

Thompson needed the money so he could disappear and lie low for a while.

Ferris claims Ferguson's Maryhill Cash and Carry firm was one of many Thompson's money-laundering outlets and that his mysterious suicide was the result of huge cash demands which he struggled to meet. Ferris said: "Obviously the legal circumstances surrounding such a large financial investment into Peter's company, then a dubious withdrawal of those same funds, would result in close scrutiny from the Inland Revenue and the VAT.

"Peter Ferguson sussed that one out and knew that he had no other option but to comply with Arthur's demands or go to his maker.

"I have no doubts the reason for Peter Ferguson's tragic suicide was the relentless pressure directed towards him from the Thompson camp to produce the necessary goods for Arthur's planned departure."
COPYRIGHT 1998 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Smith, Anna
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 28, 1998
Words:2237
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