Armed police on stand-by at Paul Massey funeral in Salford
Armed police were on stand-by today as hundreds gathered for the funeral of "Mr Big" security boss Paul Massey amid a simmering gang war.
The 55-year-old died in a hail of bullets as he stepped out of a silver BMW car outside his home in the Clifton area of Salford last month.
He was blasted four times by an assassin wearing "military style" clothing for the apparent gangland hit.
Mourners lined the streets to the church for Massey's funeral in Salford as a pipe band led his funeral carriage, which was pulled by four white horses, with eight black limousines following.
Inside his carriage were two huge floral tributes: "Grandad" and "Salford legend".
A pub near the church had home-made banners on display, saying "RIP Paul Massey Respect".
Many mourners wore white shirts and jeans, as requested by Massey's family, for a man who had allegedly never worn a suit.
The father-of-five was a well-known figure in Salford, and had been involved in security firms operating in Manchester and beyond.
His fearsome reputation grew during the drug-fuelled 90s rave scene in Manchester, lucrative for those providing secrity for the city's clubs and pubs.
His cortege left the street where his late mother and father once lived in the Ordsall area of inner-city Salford where Massey made his name, before travelling the short distance to the high-rise Salford Shopping City, for the service at St Paul's Church, surrounded by a warren of streets and high-rise flats.
A succession of heavily-built, shaven-headed men arrived in a variety of cars, including a chauffeur-driven black Rolls-Royce, exchanging handshakes with mourners as the funeral cortege arrived at the church.
Hundreds of mourners had gathered at the entrance and applause rang out as his coffin was carried from the carriage into the church for the start of the service.
As the church filled, many mourners were left outside, some drinking from bottles of lager with the faint whiff of cannabis drifting in the air.
Former Glasgow gangster Paul Ferris, a gun-runner turned author, is expected to be among those attending, and the notorious Charles Bronson, said to be Britain's most violent prisoner, is believed to have sent a wreath after the pair became friends in jail.
Massey had first been dubbed ''Mr Big'' by a local councillor in Salford following civil disturbances in the city in the 1990s and he was later jailed for 14 years for a savage knife attack outside a nightclub in Manchester city centre.
But in 1999 he was sentenced to 14 years after he stabbed a man in the groin, severing an artery, and apparently leaving him for dead outside a club in Manchester.
After the attack Massey fled to Amsterdam, but was extradited.
Since his release from Frankland Prison in County Durham, he is believed to have been involved in the security business and to have invested in property.
Police have increased patrols in Salford following his murder amid fears already-simmering gun violence in the city could spill over.
The shooting of Paul Massey comes amid concern gun crime is on the rise again in Greater Manchester - much of it concentrated in Salford.
At the end of the hour-long funeral service, Massey's white coffin was placed back into the carriage and the cortege set off for a private burial at Agecroft Cemetery in Salford.
The horse-drawn carriage, adorned with red and white Manchester United FC flags and scarves, stopped briefly outside The Winston pub nearby where mourners had gathered.
A round of applause again rang out and car horns sounded as the cortege set off again.
In 2012 Massey fought a losing campaign to become the elected mayor of Salford, saying he would rid the streets of drugs and asking voters to forget his "Mr Big'' reputation. He got nearly 2,000 votes but came in 7th place.
He was still under investigation earlier this year by police from the regional organised crime squad investigating allegations of money laundering which Massey described as a "witch hunt" against him.
No arrests have yet been made by police investigating his murder.