Noel Johnston, a temporary drug addict, was living hand-in-hand for the last few years of his life and was arrested for stealing food at a supermarket.
ohnston died last Friday from the window of the third floor of a block of flats in Ballymen.
The attempt at Ballymena’s apartment was part of a larger drug supply operation across Antrim by the PSNI’s Organized Crime Unit.
However, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that Johnston was not the target of a police raid on the home, but had been partying since Wednesday evening on the property when he was told the fraud against him should be removed.
Among those at the Ballymena High Street area were two people who were linked to the town’s heroin supply and a relative of the killer of Michael ‘Mickybo’ McIlveen’s Ballymena school boy.
The 15-year-old Catholic was beaten in a sectarian attack in 2006.
Johnston, who had been drinking and smoking hemp for 48 hours prior to the police raid, climbed onto a window sill as police tried to open the door to the apartment.
A few seconds later he slipped and fell, despite attempts to resurrect him to death on the spot.
Those who knew the 61-year-old say it has been in a downward spiral in recent years.
In recent months, he befriended former UDA member and convicted drug trafficker Dee Coleman Shankill Road, who moved to Ballymena after an attempt on his life in February.
Previously convicted of blackmail and membership in the UDA, Coleman has a 10-year Terrorism Notification Order and is banned from having a cell phone; so he used Johnston as an intermediary, paying a small fee for his services.
Coleman’s Ballymena house has shutters on the lower windows and doors. Johnston is said to have frequently visited fortifications.
Coleman is described as a “walking dead man” and remains under threat of West Belfast UDA’s death.
He befriended a tough local man, who he believed would protect him from any attacks on Ballymena.
Until a few years ago, Johnston was relatively easy to move between members of the underground criminal world and paramilitary groups, preferring to be on the right side of the old nightclub bouncer. However, a friend said: “The feeling was that it was only a matter of time before Noel died. He was dealing with society’s garbage, dirt, and house-breakers.
“On one stage he was the main man, with contacts all over Europe. Eventually, Grandma met people who would steal from you. “
His “European relations” refer to one of the biggest drugs ever made in Ireland – a £ 16 million cannabis found on a boat off the coast of Co Clare in 1996.
Hemp – weighing 1.7 tons – was discovered by guards and customs officials on a vessel called Whiskey Plongeur on November 10, 1996.
The ship registered abroad was on its way to Malin Head (Donegal) when the engine had problems.
The crew, including Johnston, abandoned the ship and, for several days, the unmanned vessel circled the Atlantic six days before boarding the guard ship.
Coincidentally, an IRA training unit used the safe house in Malin Head as a base. The IRA unit was guarded by specialized Guard agents.
Five Derry men between the ages of 30 and 40 were arrested near a point in the north of Ireland.
Two rifles from the Kalashnikov AK-47 attack were found in the farm buildings and a large number of rounds of ammunition were found in the vicinity, along with a rocket launcher. Johnston and another man who abandoned the wrecked ship were arrested by anti-terrorist police while trying to find alternative transportation, but once they checked and realized they were Ballymen criminals and not members of the IRA unit, they released them. Within 24 hours.
A few days later, however, when they found Whiskey Plongeur, they noticed that the men were going to transport the drug.
Johnston’s attempt to extradite him was a success. Only one person for drug transport, Northern Ireland businessman Colin Lees, was jailed.
Lees was sentenced to 12 years in 2000 for what a judge said was one of his “main roles” in one of the largest drug smuggling operations ever in Ireland.
Five IRA men – Patrick Kavanagh, Hugh Wilkinson, Paul Murray, Bernard O’Hagan and Patrick Gerard McCartney – all received a six-year prison sentence, but were released two years earlier under the Good Friday Agreement.
Johnston had a happy escape. But the operation revealed that he was at the highest level of the underground criminal world.
Knowing that he had a passion for fine art, he once had a collection of paintings worth ten thousand pounds.
But from being a man of great wealth, he lived in a humble two-bedroom terraced house in Ballymena that had been in disrepair in recent years.
The great fortune he had accumulated in criminal things was gone, he was associating with low-level criminals and street vendors, and he seemed increasingly paranoid.
During his long criminal career, Johnston escaped jail for not only a three-year sentence for possession of £ 250,000 in cannabis.
A complex character, some worshiped, others hated, and most people in Ballymen were frightened. While his brother, Sean, was a great boxer, Noel was a street fighter. Paul Daly was beaten by a tough man from Belfast once he found out he was on holiday in Spain.
He told friends that he had accepted Daly’s offer to drink at the holiday apartment, but late at night, Daly became naughty and threw a fist at Ballymena’s man. Johnston was beaten a few inches from his life, leaving Daly to seek hospital treatment.
Daly was later shot 10 times in May 2001 while sitting in a car on Stephen Street in Belfast – one of 14 drug dealers, the IRA.
Johnston was due to appear in court on charges of massive fraud, along with laundering high-powered cars and engines, including a Rolls-Royce Corniche, Audi TT, Holden Monara, MG Midget and Mercedes ML500 4 × 4 insurance. fraud fraud.
However, last Wednesday the Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that nine of the 11 charges against him would be withdrawn.
Johnston’s back story is unusual. Described as a calm and thoughtful young man, he was a Catholic, a former student of All Saints Catholic Boys Primary and St Patrick’s Secondary.
However, Johnston had ties to loyalist paramilitary groups. Many of these connections were made in the early years when he was the club’s goalkeeper, when he ran a number of UDA nightclub security rackets.
A fitness enthusiast with a terrifying reputation, he practiced door security at a time when Shankill SUMMER Belfast was full of drugs.
The goalkeepers protected their vendors and expelled opponents who were trying to muscle up in their territory.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the rave scene was dominating the nightlife of Northern Ireland. Loyalist drug groups, along with some Catholic drug traffickers — most of whom would later be killed by DAAD — had the market corner.
When Northern Ireland was flooded with speed, drug ecstasy and then cocaine, they were creating millions of dollars, turning criminals from working class communities into wealthy kings.
Johnston was involved in ecstasy pills and later cocaine smuggling. Despite reports, those closest to him deny that he was involved in heroin smuggling.
Johnston initially did not touch the drugs he supplied to others. Friends say he frequently referred to the character Frank Lopez in the movie Scarface: “Never get your big supply.”
However, that changed in his later years, when he was drinking a lot and using both illegal and prescription drugs.
One of the people he knew best about Johnston was his 12-year-old attorney, Ciaran Shields.
He last spoke to Johnston last Wednesday morning at the offices of Madden and Finucane in Belfast, when it was confirmed that nine of the 11 charges before him should be dropped.
“I never remember that he had a lot of money, but he was very fond of art,” Shields said. “Noel, for the last four years of his life, lived by hand to mouth. Two or three years ago his mental health dropped.
“When I left on Wednesday, he was in a state of shock because the fraud case had been hanging around for a long time.
“It’s been written about it for the last week or so, which isn’t much true, and that’s really amazing because the reality of Noel’s life story is so much more interesting.”