Nicola Tallant: ‘Johnny Morrissey flaunted his wealth on the Costa – he thought he was untouchable’
The veteran criminal was arrested by Spanish police this week as part of an investigation into alleged money-laundering.
Seven years ago I watched on a little online chat between Johnny Morrissey, the Manchester gangster suspected of involvement in numerous underworld hits, and his pal David ‘Daithi’ Douglas, then recovering in an Irish hospital from an assassination attempt
It was 2015 and Morrissey was building a palatial mansion on the Costa Del Sol, each tiny development featured in a Facebook video so pals could watch the monstrosity as it emerged from the landscape complete with statues of Roman emperors and a bespoke stained window from floor to roof featuring Nero.
Douglas, who’d served time in Ireland for cocaine offences, had been shot while walking his dogs but - confident that he’d survived – had been posting pictures of himself in his hospital bed and was very active online.
“That is absolutely fantastic,” he remarked about the pictures of the huge villa that Morrissey was building. “You have planned it perfect. Credit to you and I am sure you didn’t plan all that on your own! Am I right Nicola?? Lovely job!”
My namesake Nicola was Morrissey’s impossibly glamorous and younger Scottish wife who seemed to spend her days at charity events, visiting beauticians and organising parties for their friends and families. A true gangsters moll.
“Ha ha. My ideas. Nicola has to give the OK before the builders start. Ha Ha,” Morrissey replied.
Douglas continued: “Is my room facing the front or the back, Johnny?? Really stunning!!!
“Yours is on the top. Room with the best view,” replied Morrissey who went on to ask Douglas to travel out to Spain with a well known Irish personality for the weekend of his birthday. “I’ts going to an an amazing birthday,” he finished.
Douglas never got to visit. He was murdered by a hit team directed by Kinahan enforcer ‘Fat’ Freddie Thompson months later, his shooting one of 18 carried out by the mob during a bloody two years of violence in Dublin.
I watched in awe and horror as the building at Morrissey’s extraordinary home continued. I saw videos of it completed and gazed at pictures of the parties that followed.
I’m not that creepy that I stalk just anyone on-line. Morrissey had huge criminal pedigree and I found it hard to believe that he was so openly spending his money on the Costa Del Sol, feeling so untouchable.
Morrissey had previously lived in Kinsale in Ireland, part of a wave of UK gangsters who had washed in here before the establishment of the Criminal Assets Bureau.
He’d bought a restaurant and loved nothing more than spending a day at sea fishing on his high powered boat, which would later be suspected of being a ruse to land cocaine on our shores.
He’d fallen foul of the CAB after it’s establishment and came under the radar during Operation Firedamp which targeted the notorious drug lord George ‘The Penguin’ Mitchell.
Then the Bureau had demanded €130,000 from Morrissey enraging him so much that they later discovered he was plotting to kill it’s legal officer Barry Galvin.
The Cork lawyer had to be issued with a gun for his own protection in the aftermath.
Morrissey had fled Ireland and headed for the Costa where he only started coming back on my radar because of his public boastings about the mansion he was building.
I watched Morrissey and soon started to notice his connections with the Kinahans.
At one point I found a photograph of him with the mob’s Kevin Lynch, the armed robber who has been one of the Dapper Don’s closest associates since the turn of the century.
When a young associate of Morrissey’s celebrated his birthday I saw the postings of the special treatment he got meeting boxers in Daniel Kinahan’s MGM gym, which would later become MTK.
There were celebrity friends too and Brit comedy legend Freddie Starr was a regular at Morrissey’s get-togethers.
When the comedian died, Morrissey posted a video of them together at a pool in the sunshine. “I have just been told my dear old friend Freddy Starr has just died tonight at his home here in Spain. ….. God rest Freddy’s soul. A man of great talent who made millions laugh. Will miss you my old matel.”
By 2018 Morrissey was publicly boasting about developing a potato based Vodka which he said was going to be a huge success and which he planned to sell all over Europe.
He was naming it after his hero, Nero, images of whom adorned his crass home.
I know very little about the drinks industry but I do know people who work in it and developing a new product and launching it is not only hard work but takes millions and millions in investment. Many would say it is a money pit.
But Morrissey forged ahead and even shared his ideas for the labels and logos on social media asking friends for their comments and advice.
Nero Vodka was launched in a rare blaze of publicity during the Covid pandemic, in December 2020, at a lavish knees up in Puerto Banus.
A host of Costa Del Sol celebrities attended including reality TV star Lina Hodgkins and Irish models Cindy Cafolla and Virginia Macari.
Dancers, musicians and fire eaters were all in attendance as he celebrated his new business venture and named Nicola as being the CEO of the venture.
While Morrissey was listed as a brand ambassador for the company, his wife’s role was director and majority shareholder. At the time I wrote that there was no suggestion that Nicola had any involvement in any criminal activity.
Press releases followed from Nero and the company at one point were on the verge of sponsoring a football team in Scotland. Such was it’s success that the Vodka company seemed to have money to burn on marketing and driving the product into the public arena.
But all the while it a ruse – a money laundering arm of the Kinahan Organised Crime Group and both the company and Morrissey were named during sanctions announced last April.
The public way in which Morrissey showed off his wealth and launched Nero Vodka, was for me a measure of how untouchable the Kinahan organisation believed it had become.
Today Morrissey is behind bars and facing an extremely lengthy jail term. His wife gave photographers the finger as she was removed from custody to a Spanish court where she got bail while the investigation continues.
His arrest is another major blow for the Kinahan organisation and for the bosses in Dubai, who remain holed up in the United Arab Emirates as they watch their business collapse.
Which of the seven is hauled in next is anyone’s guess but if I was putting some money on it I would think that Sean McGovern will be home soon to face the charge of murdering Noel ‘Duck Egg’ Kirwan.
McGovern is Daniel Kinahan’s most trusted advisor and has been based with him in Dubai since 2018.
For years the Kinahan organisation got away with drug dealing, money laundering, weapons smuggling and murder while become billionaires. But the clock is now ticking for those at the top of the tree. One down. Six to go.
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