Gilligan gangster | 

Peter 'Fatso' Mitchell was king of Costa Del Crime until Kinahan cartel forced him out of town

Peter Mitchell lived the high life in Spain - running his criminal activities from his bar until a botched assassination made him flee for his life

Peter ‘Fatso’ Mitchell had to run for it after an attempt on his life

Nicola Tallant

Peter 'Fatso' Mitchell was the Irish king of the Costa Del Crime until the Kinahan mob turned on him and he was forced into hiding for more than 10 years, finally showing up in the curry capital of Yorkshire working as a driver for a cocaine gang.

A murky gangland story involving double crosses, greed and paranoia lie at the heart of Mitchell's journey to a prison cell in Wales, where he was locked up on Friday for 10 years for his role in the 'Avengers' coke gang.

Mitchell, the last member of the notorious John Gilligan gang (and dubbed by Gardaí 'the one who got away'), had been secretly building his wealth by flooding south Wales with cocaine before an EncroChat phone exposed his criminal operation.

Mitchell's journey to a Welsh prison cell is one that reveals the brutal and paranoid world of organised crime, where friends become mortal enemies and where a fortune can be lost in an instant.

Peter Mitchell with John Gilligan and Brian Meehan on holiday in St Lucia in 1996

Mitchell was lucky to escape with his life when Christy Kinahan Snr sanctioned his murder weeks after the cartel boss was arrested in Belgium for money laundering and police corruption in 2008.

'Fatso' (51) shut up his Paparazzi bar in Puerto Banus - which had become a HQ for international gangsters - and ran for his life after miraculously surviving a daylight shooting just six months after his pal Paddy Doyle, a gangland hitman, was set up and murdered by the mob.

Mitchell was top dog on the Costa del Crime until ousted by the Kinahans

A Kinahan assassin, who would himself later fall out with the mob, is suspected of carrying out the botched attack which only failed when the shooter stumbled.

'Fatso' had established a thriving business in Puerto Banus in the south of Spain at the time of the shooting, but had to leave it all behind and start again as he fled the violent Kinahan mob.

At that time, he had slipped the net of the Veronica Guerin murder team and had established himself between Puerto Banus and Amsterdam, with partners from Liverpool. He often worked with George 'The Penguin' Mitchell and was in regular contact with John 'The Coach' Traynor, who was moving between The Netherlands and Margate on the UK's south coast.

He had cemented his status as one of the top dogs on the Costa when he purchased 'Paparazzi'.

Peter Mitchell’s Puerto Banus bar, Paparazzi where visitors regularly included James ‘Jaws’ Byrne and his sons

The premises, located just a mile outside Puerto Banus beside the Aloha Gardens apartment complex, offered a bar and a restaurant.

But it was really a meeting place for drug gangs, including the Kinahans, who met and brokered deals with their customers from all over Europe in the guise of having ordinary business lunches.

Regularly, they pooled their financial resources and purchased in bulk directly from the producers. Neither Kinahan Snr, nor his right-hand man, John Cunningham, liked Mitchell, so any business conducted between the two organisations was brokered through his son Daniel, who was regularly spotted meeting 'Fatso' at the bar.

Months after Paparazzi opened for business surveillance established that Freddie Thompson and his cousins Liam and David Byrne were regular visitors, along with their father, James 'Jaws' Byrne.

Paddy Doyle was firmly in 'Fatso's' camp and Gary Hutch also was a regular at the venue.

On February 4, 2008, Paddy Doyle was murdered while he was sitting in a jeep with Hutch and Thompson.

In Spain, investigators initially blamed the Russian mafia who, they were told, Doyle had fought with during a night out - but it would later emerge he was killed by his own.

Two months later, Mitchell was the subject of a special report in the Sunday World and photographed with criminal associates.

The incident was hugely embarrassing for 'Fatso' and within days of the report, Spanish cops raided his bar and shut it down over 'licensing irregularities'.

Mitchell socialising with members of his family in Puerto Banus

But a month after the raids, when the 'Dapper Don' was in Antwerp in Belgium, cops swooped on him too, and he found himself at the centre of a massive investigation, conveniently blaming his business rival Mitchell for his arrest.

The inquiry into Kinahan's money laundering had established an extraordinary web of corruption involving organised crime gangs, a local professional soccer club and members of the Belgian police

Laws in Belgium meant that Kinahan Snr would be held in custody with no access to bail while the investigation proceeded and he was locked up in the city's main prison on Beginjnen Straat.

Daniel Kinahan went to see his father in prison and agreed to take control of business in Spain while his mess was sorted out. Officers suspect the meeting also sealed Mitchell fate.

James ‘Jaws’ Byrne

In August 2008, 'Fatso' was sipping a drink at the El Jaridin Bar when a hitman in a balaclava ran at him with a gun. He dived for cover and in the panic the gunman slipped and managed to hit his target just in the shoulder and leg. Two other people sitting nearby were injured.

In hospital, sources say, 'Fatso' realised that he needed to run and put his home and bar up for sale. Very soon another bar replaced Paparazzi as the meeting place for criminals. This time the proprietor was Daniel Kinahan and the bar was called the Auld Dubliner.

Two years after he disappeared, 'Fatso' showed up in Amsterdam, where police discovered him when they raided an apartment being used by John 'The Coach' Traynor, another member of the Gilligan gang.

Christy Kinahan

'Fatso' fled again, this time going further into hiding and leaving The Netherlands behind. No intelligence on his activities was gathered in Ireland since his disappearance and he dropped completely off the Garda radar - until now.

This week, a Welsh court heard that Mitchell was part of a gang that had trafficked more than €2 million of cocaine into Swansea in just five months. Unknown to him and his gang, they were being watched by police using information secured during the EncroChat phone hack.

Two men. Nathan Webber (28) and James Gallagher (36), ran the operation and were supplied by Mitchell, who would drive consignments of cocaine to Swansea from his home in Bradford.

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