Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

'Mad Dog' Johnny Adair's secret return to Northern Ireland - defies death threat after mum's death

Exiled former UDA godfather Adair made secret flying visit to Belfast to pray at Mabel's coffin

By Ciaran Barnes Chief Reporter

EXILED terror chief Johnny Adair made a secret pilgrimage to his mother's wake to say a final goodbye.

Sunday Life can reveal that the former UDA boss, nicknamed Mad Dog, returned to Belfast on Wednesday morning to pray at the coffin of mum Mabel, who died aged 83 last weekend.

He did not attend her funeral and burial at Roselawn Cemetery the following day in case of UDA reprisals on family still living in the Shankill Road area of Belfast.

However, he was at Mabel's side for over an hour last Wednesday morning after catching the early morning ferry from his Scottish bolthole.

Mabel's death is the second bereavement to hit Adair in as many years after the drugs overdose death of his son Jonathan (32) in 2016.

On Saturday the notorious ex-paramilitary boss told Sunday Life: "I spent over an hour with my mother, praying and talking to her. It was all very peaceful and dignified. There were also a lot of tears.

"I gave my wee mum a kiss and asked her to look after Jonathan."

After bidding his mother a final goodbye, Adair hopped back on the ferry, sailing from Belfast to Scotland - his home for the past 15 years.

The 55-year-old, who served a 16-year prison sentence for directing UDA terrorism, was tailed throughout by undercover PSNI officers.

He revealed: "The Scottish police stopped me after I drove off the ferry. They said that it was under the Terrorism Act and they spent 15 minutes searching my car.

"In fairness to the Scottish police, they were very apologetic. They understood I was paying a last visit to my dead mother and they treated me with respect."

On previous returns here, Adair has goaded his former UDA pals, posing for pictures outside their Shankill Road homes and issuing veiled threats.

But this time was different, according to friends of the former C Company leader whose terror unit was responsible for dozens of sectarian murders.

"Johnny has no time for any of that UDA stuff anymore," said a close associate.

Adair's older brother Archie, who was jailed for a sectarian hatchet attack and UDA rioting during the Holy Cross primary school picket, was the only prominent loyalist at their mum Mabel's funeral. She was buried at Roselawn Cemetery after a service at Houston & Williamson funeral parlour on the Crumlin Road close to the Shankill.

A large floral wreath spelling out the word 'Mother' was left by Mad Dog and Archie with a simple message reading: "Love, your sons Johnny + Archie".

Adair's family fled the Shankill in 2003 after his C Company unit feuded with the rest of the UDA and murdered the terror gang's South East Antrim leader John 'Grugg' Gregg. Adair settled in Troon on the west coast of Scotland and is in a long-term relationship with partner Lynne Benson, with whom he has a seven-year-old son, Reilly.

In 2015, three Scottish republican sympathisers were jailed for a total of 38 years for plotting to murder Adair and his exiled UDA associate Sam 'Skelly' McCrory.

The former terror boss was devastated by the death of his son Jonathan who was found dead at a flat in Troon, on the west coast of Scotland, in September 2016 after taking a bad batch of fake Valium.

He left behind four-year-old son Haley with his fiancée Jasmine Johnstone, and a teenage son on the Shankill Road.

The Adair family believe Jonathan (below), who was at one time dubbed Mad Pup, wanted to have one final "blow out" before settling down. They say he was a recreational taker of drugs and not a hard user.

The pills that killed him have been nicknamed 'blue plague' because of the amount of fatal overdoses to which they have been linked.

Some were discovered in Jonathan's pockets when medical staff retrieved his body.

In an interview at the time his former UDA Shankill leader father hit out at those behind threats warning his supporters of "repercussions" should they attend his son's funeral.

"It'll be just a few individuals (warning people not to attend the funeral) - those individuals fear me," he said in 2016.

"I have no interest in those people whatsoever. They are just police informants. The support I have had has been overwhelming back home. If it's the case that they are trying to stop people (from going to the funeral), it just shows they have no intelligence or integrity.

"They have destroyed a good organisation from within. They are just a bunch of informants and back-stabbers.

"They have more to fear of me than I have of them. They fear me regrouping and coming after them.

"My message to the volunteers back home is, stay away from them if you can. They are nothing but informants."

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