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August 2, 2015

Salford’s ‘Mr Big’ Paul Massey warned by police to watch his back – weeks before he was gunned down

The former ‘Mr Big’ was told he was a target six weeks ago despite becoming a man of the people after leaving prison, says his partner

Paul Massey

The widow of a murder victim, described as a Mr Big of organised crime, revealed police warned him his life was in danger weeks ago.

Paul Massey died in a hail of bullets on his driveway after being targeted in a “hit” outside his detached home last Sunday.

His devastated partner Louise Lydiate pleaded with anyone thinking about seeking revenge there should be “no repercussions”.

Louise, his partner of 28 years, revealed Paul had been mediating between two gangs in the months before his death.

The 55-year-old was well known across Greater Manchester for his criminal activities, but his family insisted it was all in the past.

They said he simply wanted to make his home city of Salford a better place.

He was hit by four bullets – in the arm, leg, side and a fatal shot to the chest.

He was targeted at 7.30pm as he stepped out of his silver BMW on his driveway by a gunman dressed in camouflage-style trousers and a jacket, with his face partially masked.

Grandfather Paul managed to dial 999 but died by the time paramedics arrived at his house in the Clifton area of Salford.

Louise, 47, told how police visited their home six weeks ago to give Paul an “Osman warning”.

They were introduced in the 1980s after a legal ruling that police had a ‘‘duty of care’’ to warn people at risk.

He received two similar warnings, one in 2012 when he stood for Salford City Mayor.

In her first interview since the murder, Louise told the Sunday People: “It was only a few weeks ago that he got another Osman warning.

“There was a Tactical Armed Group van outside the house full of officers and I thought ‘oh no, not again’. I thought they were coming to raid us.

“But the two of them got out and knocked on the door. I opened the bedroom window and they asked was Paul in as they had to hand him this notice.

“I told them to post it but they said they had to do it by hand. I ran down and opened the door.

“The police in the van were all grinning. They said ‘make sure he gets this’ then they told me my pyjama top was on inside out.

“Paul was in when they came but he was still in bed. He told me to go and get it and said ‘join the queue’. They give them because they know there’s a threat, but they don’t tell you where its come from. They just tell you to be on your guard.”

Speaking on her first visit to her home after Paul was killed, Louise told how she had been celebrating her mother’s birthday in the pub.

She said: “My daughter rang me and said there were loads of them outside, ambulances, armed police and dogs.

“I jumped in a taxi but when I got near home all the road was blocked. I jumped out and tried to run down the road through the cordon.

“A friend grabbed me and he was crying. He just told me ‘he’s gone’.

“I was begging the coppers to let me go and see him, but they just said ‘we can’t do that’. I was saying to them ‘but it’s raining, he’s going to get wet’. It was a few hours, after midnight, when they finally took him away.”

The couple had returned from a week-long caravan holiday in North Wales 24 hours before.

Louise added: “He was a proper family man, he would do anything for anyone. All the other stuff was in his past. Since he got out of prison eight years ago he’s kept himself to himself.

“He was into his politics. He would sit up all night watching the news and was always talking to his friends about it. He was always planning to do something big, but I don’t really understand politics. He wanted to make Salford a better place. ”

Sunday People Crime scene where ex Manchester gangster Paul Massey was shot Crime scene where ex Manchester gangster Paul Massey was shot

Louise pleaded for people not to go looking for revenge: “He wouldn’t want that. The last thing he’d want is for lads to be running around Salford with guns. Innocent people get hurt in the process. He wouldn’t want that to happen.

“He was trying to educate young people, saying to them ‘don’t make the same mistakes I’ve made’. That’s what he would be saying to them all.”

Louise also said police had been visiting people she knew. “There have been vans and police turning up at people’s houses, it’s like they’re giving everyone a warning not to retaliate.”

She said Paul had been asked to mediate by the police in the past, but it was something he did not discuss it with her.

It could be a month before his body is released for a funeral.

“I went to identify him but he was behind glass. That was awful, I couldn’t be with him,” she said.

Close friend Jason Coghlan said: “All of the criminal stuff was in the past. It was the best part of 20 years ago.

“He was just a decent, family man. He didn’t deserve this. It’s right that he was trying to mediate between gangs.

Andy Stenning Emotional scenes with friends and family laying flowers near seen of gangland shooting of Paul Massey in Salford
Emotional scenes with friends and family laying flowers near scene of gangland shooting of Paul Massey in Salford

Andrew Stenning Manchester Road, Clifton, police incident after the shooting of Paul Massey
Manchester Road, Clifton, police incident after the shooting of Paul Massey

“He was a Salford boy, working to make it a better place to live for everyone. He was well known and well
respected that’s why people looked to him for help and advice.”

Paul was described as Salford’s Mr Big in a town hall meeting in 1992 after being linked to organised crime.

He was among a group of men acquitted of violent disorder in the early 1990s, but jailed for 14 years in 1999 for stabbing a man, severing an artery.

Since his release, he has been involved in security and property.

In a chilling, unaired TV documentary in 1998 Paul himself admitted he could be murdered at any time.

Det Chief Insp Howard Millington said: “Officers are working tirelessly to catch the person that did this and we will continue to offer support to Paul’s family.”

The gunman escaped down an alley next to a church.

Police are keen to speak to a potential witness, a girl of 16-17 who was standing at a nearby bus stop. Police stressed that witnesses will be given anonymity.

Salford has been rocked by suspected tit-for-tat gang-related shootings as criminals vie for control of the city.

Just a day before the shooting of Paul Massey, police were appealing for help unmasking the gunmen.

His murder was the 15th shooting in 14 months, with many linked to the lucrative drugs trade in Greater Manchester.

There is nothing to suggest he was linked to the previous shootings, but police pleaded for calm amid fears that the city could return to the dark days of the 1990s when the region was dubbed “Gunchester”.

Speaking the day before Paul’s shooting, Chief Supt Mary Doyle said: “Someone, somewhere knows where these guns are being kept, so please do the right thing and tell us where they are.

“You could be saving someone’s life.”

There could be 40 organised crime groups in the city. Four attacks have been linked – two where three men were shot, and two others involving a machete and a grenade. Another saw an innocent man shot seven times. He survived.

Chief Supt Doyle added: “As a result of our investigations we have made a number of arrests, disrupted criminal activities of these factions and our investigations are ongoing.”

Salford Cllr John Warmisham blamed a generation brought up on a “diet of war games and Grand Theft Auto”. He said: “In the past, fists and baseball bats might be used. Now there is a new breed of trigger-happy criminals. The biggest worry is that an innocent member of the public will get caught up in it.”

Mayor Ian Stewart said the city wanted to see an end to gun crime misery.

Article from The Mirror, 2 August, 2015