One of the gangster maxims, which they claim to abide by, is to act for business, not pleasure.
In practice the two can rarely be separated. Which is the case in the long-running feud between two Glasgow crime family networks, the Lyons and the Daniels, which has seen fatal and non-fatal shootings, knifings, vehicle hit and run, firebomb attacks, police corruption, witness intimidation – and drugs, shedloads of drugs.
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It goes back more than 20 years but its effects are felt right up to the present.
To list all of their clashes and conflicts would eat up terabytes of data, but there are two seminal incidents which illustrate the bloody and unforgiving nature of this fight to the death, literally.
The first took place in early December 2006 in Lambhill at Applerow Motors, owned by David Lyons, brother of the head of the clan, Eddie Senior. It was like a scene from a gangster movie, one witness said, but it was being played out for real in north Glasgow. Two men in long black coats, wearing masks and holding handguns walked into the forecourt and started shooting.
It was over in minutes but when the smoke cleared Lyons’ 21-year-old nephew Michael was dead on the ground, his cousin Steven was badly-wounded, as was Robert Pickett, known as Piggy, who hadn’t long come out of prison on the attempted murder of the Rennie brothers in the Paisley drug wars. Another two who had migrated from Paisley to the Lyons were Mark Rennie’s killer Stewart Gillespie and another hardman involved in Paisley, Willam ‘Basil’ Burns, or ‘Boom Boom’, (which was Basil Brush’s catchphrase but may have an additional meaning).
Just to add to the colour, David Lyons received a ‘ransom note’ delivered to his home 10 days after the shooting.
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It said: “The boys owe me £25,000 and I want what’s owed to me. It’s for drugs. They all know what it’s about. The money doesn’t matter to me as it’s got to be paid to the piper. I don’t want the police, the boys, not even your wife, knowing about it. If you keep them out of this then all your lives can go back to normal as we are all losing money through this. If you have any tricks for my pickup man then all the deals are off. Remember to keep your mouth shut. No cameras, no surveillance, as the pickup man doesn’t know nothing so he’s no use to you. Drop off, 4pm Saturday. I’ll draw you a map and X will mark the spot.”
You really couldn’t make it up.
The two gunmen at Applerow were Daniel gang members, Raymond Anderson and James McDonald. They were caught and sentenced to a Scottish record term of 35 years each, later reduced on appeal to 30.
At their trial Pickett, who had been shot in the stomach and had lost a kidney, claimed in the witness box that the wrong men were on trial. It was suggested he had been paid to say that. Whatever the truth he was later sentenced to two years for contempt of court over his evidence.
What sparked this carnage was probably the drive-by shooting three weeks earlier, in Auchinairn, Bishopbriggs, of Kevin ‘Gerbil’ Carroll and associate Ross Sherlock. This was the second time Gerbil had been hit, the first outside his mother’s home in Milton almost three years earlier. The issue seems to be that the Lyons believed that Carroll had vandalised the grave of Garry Lyons, son of Eddie Snr, who had died of leukaemia in 1991. But attacking a family member made it personal for the Daniels.
The Lyons are from Milton, where Kenny Dalglish and Frank McAvennie grew up, and the Daniels from Possil, just down the way. Gerbil had a long history with the Lyons clan stretching all the way back to his schooldays when he was bullied by Steven Lyons and his brother Edward Jnr. But during this time he also forged friendships with Jamie Daniel’s sons Robert and Francis ‘Fraggle’ Green, who became his closest associates.
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When Carroll grew up and graduated into crime and as a top lieutenant in the Daniels gang he ran a team of thugs who staged ‘alien abductions’ of rival dealers, many of whom worked for the Lyons. They were so called because victims, usually found wandering in a state of semi-undress, would claim they could not remember anything afterwards. Gerbil was, by most accounts, a maniac. And incorrigible. Not a great combination.
In July 2007 he went down for 18 months for possession of high-velocity ammunition. A more serious charge of possessing a Heckler & Koch sub-machine gun was dropped. This sentence probably delayed the final outcome.
The denouement, again a very public one, came at the Asda superstore in Robroyston. There’s little doubt that Gerbil was set up, indeed a police officer was later jailed for leaking information to the alleged hit man. As he sat, unusually, in the backseat of a black Audi outside the busy store the child locks were on so he would have been unable to get out from inside.
Three masked gunmen approached the car and shot Carroll five time through the windows as the two men in the front seat fled. One of them, however, phoned ‘Fraggle’ Green, Gerbil’s longtime pal and brother of his now partner Kelly, who arrived before the police, was given the keys to the car, searched Carroll’s body and removed his mobile phone, which the police might have found interesting.
It was unlucky Friday January 13, 2010, seven years and one day after Gerbil had been shot outside his mother’s house in Milton. Ross Monaghan, a Lyons associate, was charged with the murder but the case collapsed because of lack of evidence. A familiar occurrence in Glasgow’s crime wars.
If there is a source of the original enmity between the two crime families, rather than greed and control of drug terrain, it dates back to the summer of 2001 when a large stash of Daniels’ cocaine was stolen from a house in the Milton and sold on to the Lyons.
For years the Lyons enjoyed not just immunity, but tangible establishment approval and support. In 1992 Eddie Snr, already well known to police, was given disused Chirnsyde School in the Milton for a ‘community project’.Three years later, while he was actually developing his crime empire in the gang hut, he was given public funding.
In 2005 Bridget McConnell, head of culture and leisure at Glasgow council and wife of Scottish First Minister Jack, recommended renewing the funding, which was agreed. And it continued for more than a year while the range war continued.
Fast forward to September last year in Bishopbriggs again, at St Helen’s School, it’s just after 3pm the primary children are filing out to their parents, when three shots from a hand gun ring out, hitting Ross Sherlock, the pal of the dead gangster Gerbil, in the arm and hand. He’s there picking up his kids.
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Then a few weeks later, just days before Christmas, journalist Russell Findlay opens his door to a man wearing a Royal Mail delivery outfit, who then throws acid in his face. Findlay manages to overpower the man and fortunately suffers no lasting damage.
Findlay is the author of book about the Lyons-Daniel feud called, chillingly if not prophetically, Caught in the Crossfire. William ‘Basil’ Burns has been charged for the attack on him and on Sherlock.
- Part I Arthur Thompson
- Part II Paul Ferris
- Part III Tam McGraw
- Part IV The McGovernment
- Part V The Lyons v the Daniels
- Part VI Stewart Boyd
- Part VII Walter Norval
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