Frank McCrystal’s criminal career came crashing down when he was caught transporting a lorry-load of drugs from Scotland
Frank McCrystal (68) was stabbed in the head, neck and stomach during the violent 4am break-in at his house on the Grove Road on Wednesday.
Aaron McElhatton appeared in Ballymena Magistrates Court last Thursday charged with his attempted murder, aggravated burglary, possession of a firearm with intent, and possession of an offensive weapon. The 28-year-old was remanded in custody and the case adjourned until October 13.
His alleged victim, Frank McCrystal, was one of the biggest players in the Ballymena drugs scene during the 1990s.
But his criminal career came crashing down when he was caught by police transporting a lorry-load of narcotics from Scotland.
The haul belonged to Belfast-based ecstasy and cannabis baron ‘Big’ Ed McCoy, who was murdered in 2000 by IRA front group Direct Action Against Drugs.
Criminal sources say McCrystal was a trusted courier for the crime boss, using his lorry to bring drugs into Northern Ireland.
After his arrest he was jailed at Magilligan Prison for importation. Upon his release he turned his back on drugs to set up furniture transport business McCrystal Removals and Storage.
While behind bars he was famously pictured on a day out canoeing with other inmates who included LVF boss and convicted drug dealer Laurence ‘Duffer’ Kincaid, and UVF gunman Andy ‘Hard to Kill’ Aiken.
McCrystal’s removal vans can often be seen travelling around Ballymena with the company’s huge logo on the side.
Despite his best efforts he has still, on occasions, managed to fall on the wrong side of the law.
This includes being ordered by a court to pay more than £2,000 to a customer over a botched removal job.
The former drug boss was paid £900 to take a female pensioner’s furniture to England. However, he did not show up forcing her to return to Northern Ireland.
She revealed: “The first delivery arrived as planned but the second load never appeared. I kept phoning Frank every day for about three weeks and every day he promised me it was being delivered the next day.
“Eventually I had to come home because he had things I couldn’t live without like a cooker and fridge. I simply didn’t have any money to replace them.”
McCrystal denied any wrongdoing but was ordered to pay the pensioner £2,178 by the small claims court. He later claimed a delay in handing over the money was a result of him going bankrupt.