Natasha Turley says she wants to clear her name after masked men broke into her house looking for her partner Alex Traynor in March.
She’s now living in the south of England with 40-year-old criminal Traynor who has a notorious reputation and was once described as a “one-man crime wave” following an infamous rooftop protest in Belfast city centre 20 years ago.
Speaking to the Sunday World, they say they both received separate death threats and were forced to leave Northern Ireland.
Now Natasha says she’s lost her children as a result of the threats and the fact she had to flee Belfast.
It all kicked off on March 23 when a masked gang entered her Spamount Street home in the New Lodge area, looking for Alex.
“I was up the stairs and heard this mad noise and went down to see this gang of masked men walking out of the house armed with bats,” says Natasha.
“They then put all the windows in. The glass came in around my kids who were sitting on the sofa. I had lived there for 12 years and never had any trouble.
“It was terrifying but then they spray-painted my walls with ‘AAD Drug Dealers Out’. Alex only stayed with me two nights a week.
“If he’d been there that night they would have killed him. I had to move out and ended up in his house in Ballysillan but they came to shoot him dead one night and he had to get out of the country.
“Next thing I got a death threat telling me I wasn’t allowed in north or west Belfast. I had nothing to do with anything but now I’ve lost my happy home and now my kids.
“I just want to clear my name now and get back home. It’s not fair what has happened. My mental health is shot to pieces because of all this. I used to live a quiet life and that’s all I want – my life back.”
Action Against Drugs is a crime gang with a reputation for murder which is linked to dissident republicans. It has been operating in north and west Belfast for more than a decade.
The gang carried out its first murder in October 2012, gunning down 36-year-old father-of-one Danny McKay in his Newtownabbey home.
They went on to murder 55-year-old fast food delivery man Dan Murray in May 2016 in west Belfast and 43-year-old Joe Reilly in Poleglass, on the outskirts of west Belfast, in October that year.
Alex Traynor told theSunday World he was accused of dealing heroin – something he says he’s never done and would never do.
And he is convinced someone set him up for murder, saying that only for the fact Social Services told him he was the target of a death threat he would have been killed.
“I used to deal cocaine but that was over a year ago,” says Alex. “Now I just sell a few boxes of pregabalin every week, nothing more than that.
“I’ve never dealt heroin before and I’m finished with all that now anyway. It’s not right they want to kill me just because I sold a few boxes of buds.”
Alex says he won’t be returning to Northern Ireland ever again and believes he may have been targeted initially in Natasha’s New Lodge home because his is a Protestant.
“I’ve had about six attempts on my life, I’ve had several punishment beatings over the years and several guns put to the back of my head – all I want to do is stay alive so I can see my daughter.
“So I’ll not be back – I just want people to know I wasn’t dealing heroin. I was a small fish in a very big pond.
“These so-called AAD ones, I believe it was the INLA and I think the fact I was a Protestant originally from the Shankill is the real reason they came to try and kill me.”
Alex says, while it was AAD under the guise of the INLA who turned up at Natasha’s house in Spamount Street to kill him in March, he believes it was the West Belfast UDA who were planning to shoot him shortly after that at his home in Ballysillan.
“Social Services phoned Natasha and told her there was a threat to my life,” he says. “The next thing I know is there was a car with gunmen sitting at the top of my street. Social Services pretty much saved my life.”
A couple of months after Alex fled Belfast for England, Natasha turned up to join him.
Last week she got arrested and given a police caution for decking Alex but while she was in the police station Social Services moved in and removed her kids.
“The neighbour reported us fighting and I was lifted for hitting him,” says Natasha. “The social moved in and took the kids while I was away at the station.
“Alex is paranoid because of the threats against him. The police are basically watching him 24 hours a day but he’s so paranoid he sometimes thinks I was the one who set him up in the first place.
“I keep telling him I’ve lost my kids over all this and have been threatened I’ll be killed too. He had to go into hospital for a few days because his mental health is so bad.
“We’ve both lost everything because paramilitaries think they can decide who can live where. And the police do nothing to help you out.”
Alex Traynor hit the headlines 20 years ago when he was involved in a bizarre rooftop protest in Belfast where he stood throwing slates at the cars below.
He was ordered out of the Shankill by the UDA around the same time and went to live in Coleraine where a masked UDA gang subjected him to a vicious attack in 2002.
“The cops over here in England are basically monitoring me 24 hours a day because they know how much danger I’m in. A team from Scotland came down to England looking for me.
“All this for selling a few boxes of tablets? It’s not right.”