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TAR & FEATHER MAN HIDING IN GLASGOW; EXCLUSIVE He flees 'to get away from it all'.

Byline: By DONNA CARTON

AN alleged drug dealer who was tarred and feathered has fled to Scotland with his family to escape loyalist vigilantes.

Chilling photographs of Jock Nelson's "punishment" were beamed around the world by the balaclava-clad men who doused him in burning tar and then covered him in feathers.

Humiliated Nelson, who was lucky to escape injury following the medieval-style attack in south Belfast, packed up and left the city with his estranged wife and four kids shortly after it happened.

His irate mother Jean yesterday revealed that he had escaped to Glasgow to stay with family, "to get away from everything for a while".

According to sources in the loyalist Taughmonagh estate in south Belfast where the paramilitary-style "punishment" took place, Nelson was stopped and searched last Sunday by masked men who found he was carrying bags of hard drugs - and then beat him up.

They then dragged him through the streets, tied him to a lamp-post and poured hot tar and feathers over him.

A piece of cardboard with the words "I'm a drug dealing scumbag" scrawled on it was tied around his neck.

But yesterday his mother defended her son and dismissed the drug dealing allegations as "slander".

She added angrily: "How dare you say that. Who told you where I live? Who told you my name? How would you like it if this was happening to you?"

The attack has been linked to local paramilitaries who became sick of the drug problem and the crimes addicts were committing to pay for their habit.

But the UDA, which has a strong presence on the crime-ridden estate, has denied it had anything to do with the attack.

Frankie Gallagher of the Ulster Political Research Group, which represents the political wing of the group, said: "The UDA told the local community to go to the police about this. The community responded in the way it did because it had no confidence in the police."

But other political representatives laid the blame at the UDA door and yesterday local sources said the attack wasn't about ridding the community of drugs but was the result of a Nelson "selling freelance and stepping on paramilitary toes".

Alban Maginness, a nationalist SDLP MLA, said: "It is clear it was an element of the UDA which was responsible for this. These things are not done spontaneously by the community. It would seem to be a very provocative act."

The UDA was recently issued with a Government ultimatum to abandon violence and give up its guns or a pounds 1.2million conflict-transformation grant earmarked for loyalist areas would be withheld.

Nelson, who worked until recently as a barman in Lavery's pub near Belfast city centre, had left Taughmonagh after threats were made to him.

He was also having marital difficulties and left his wife Julie, four children and a sister at his house and stayed away for a while, according to locals.

However, he returned to the estate recently and was accused of selling drugs to teenagers. A pal said he has gone away "for a few days" with his wife and children. Tarring and feathering is a punishment used since medieval times and was used during the Troubles by the IRA. In the 70s the terror group used it against women they alleged were having affairs with British soldiers.

CAPTION(S):

Medieval 'punishment' back on Belfast streets, but UDA denies involvement Picture: BELFAST TELEGRAPH/PA
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 2, 2007
Words:573
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