Joe Bruno on the Mob – Scottish Supergrass (Informant) Finally Gets a Lucky Break

First of all, before I read the article below, I had no idea what a “Supergrass” was (There’s a definition of Supergrass after the article below).

However, the gist of the story is that informant John Corkish, 46, was hit with a 12-month jail sentence for contempt of court, because he initially refused to rat on Scottish organized crime figures Raymond “Rainbow” Anderson and James McDonald. At the two murderer’s trail, Corkish, scared spitless, originally clammed up, and actually gave false testimony. After being warned by Judge Lord Hardie (I wonder if there is a Judge Lord Laurel in Scotland), Corkish finally spit out the truth and identified Anderson as the killer.

After the guilty verdicts were rendered (The two murderer’s 35-year minimum term sentences were the largest ever handed down in Scotland), for some unknown reason, Judge Hardie sent Corkish immediately to jail for contempt of court, (Corkish did not pass “Go” and collect the customary $200), despite the fact that Corkish’s evidence was the key in the two murderer’s convictions.

Corkish languished in jail for a full 12 months, before three Appeal Court judges ruled Corkish could fly the coop, immediately. The reason for the reversal was because Strathclyde assistant chief constable Campbell Corrigan told the three judges it could hurt the fight against organized crime if a man ratted someone out, and was sent to jail anyway.

As we speak, Corkish is living somewhere in the Scottish version of the Witness Protection Program, which probably means he’s drinking in some dingy pub, hidden in the mountainous moors of Scotland.

I guess the moral of this story is (at least the Scottish moral of this story), if you’re going to be an informant, once the trial starts, immediately start ratting, put on your track shoes, and don a phony disguise.

Then get the heck out of Dodge City, Scotland.

The article below appeared in the UK Daily Record.

Supergrass freed after top cop says jail term ‘could hinder war on organised crime’

Aug 28 2010 Gordon Mcilwraith
A SUPERGRASS jailed for giving false evidence at a gangland murder trial has been freed – thanks to a police chief’s plea.
John Corkish, 46, was jailed for 12 months for contempt of court – despite later providing crucial evidence which led to the conviction of assassin Raymond “Rainbow” Anderson.
Yesterday, three Appeal Court judges overturned the jail sentence after Strathclyde assistant chief constable Campbell Corrigan told them it could hurt the fight against organised crime.

Corkish, who had been on bail pending his appeal and is living under a new identity at a secret location, was a key witness at the trial of Anderson, 48, and James McDonald, 36.

The pair, who shot a man dead in cold blood and wounded two others at a garage run by a rival crime clan, are now serving 35-year minimum term life sentences.

At their trial, Corkish, who was living in fear of his life, initially gave false evidence. But after a warning from trial judge Lord Hardie, he identified Anderson.

The judge went on to jail him for contempt, despite his evidence leading to the guilty verdict.
At the Appeal Court in Edinburgh yesterday, the judges said Mr Corrigan’s intervention was the “most powerful consideration” in allowing Corkish to walk free.
Lord Osborne, who heard the appeal with Lords Carloway and Bonomy, said the senior cop had supplied a statement arguing that if the sentence remained, it might deter others from coming forward in similar cases.

He added that Mr Corrigan’s plea was a “matter of great significance in a case in which charges of the most grave and sinister kind were brought to trial”.

Admonishing Corkish, the judges agreed the jail term was inappropriate and excessive.
They also stressed that the prosecution accepted Corkish’s fear for his safety before the trial was justifiable and that his life could still be in jeopardy.

The murder in 2006 at Applerow Motors in Lambhill, Glasgow, was part of a vicious turf war between the Daniel and Lyons crime families.

The gunmen opened fire just minutes after taxis collected pupils from a nearby special needs primary school.

The murdered man, Michael Lyons, 21, was the nephew of Lyons clan chief Eddie Lyons senior.
Steven Lyons, 29, one of the sons of Eddie Lyons, was shot in the leg as he tried to flee.
The third shot man, gangland enforcer Robert Pickett, 44, who had served time for attempted murder, was hit three times.

The hitmen’s 35-year minimum terms are the heaviest handed down in Scotland in modern times.

Supergrass (informer)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Supergrass is a slang term for an informer, which originated in London. Informers had been referred to as “grasses” since the late-1930s, and the “super” prefix was coined by journalists in the early 1970s to describe those informers from the city’s underworld who testified against former associates in a series of high-profile mass trials at the time.[1] One of the first police informers to receive the ‘supergrass’ nickname was Bertie Smalls.
In Northern Ireland, the term “supergrass” especially refers to arrested paramilitaries who divulged the identities of their compatriots to the Royal Ulster Constabulary, possibly in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Sir John Hermon did not deny reports that inducements were paid but denied figures as high as £50,000 were involved.[2] The use of the term in Northern Ireland began with the arrest of Christopher Black in 1981. After securing assurances that he would have protection from prosecution, Black gave statements which led to 38 arrests. On 5 August 1983, 22 members of the Provisional IRA were sentenced to a total of more than 4,000 cumulative years in prison, based on Black’s testimonies alone (eighteen of these convictions were overturned on appeal on 17 July 1986).[3]

By the end of 1982, 25 more ‘supergrasses’ had surfaced contributing to the arrests of over six hundred people from paramilitary organizations, such as the Provisional IRA, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force.

On 11 April 1983, members of the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force were jailed on the evidence of supergrass Joseph Bennett. These convictions were all overturned on 24 December 1984. In October 1983, seven people were convicted on the evidence provided by supergrass Kevin McGrady although the trial judge Lord Chief Justice Robert Lowry had described McGrady’s evidence as “bizarre, incredible and contradictory”.[4] The last supergrass trial finished on 18 December 1985, when 25 members of the INLA were jailed on the evidence of Harry Kirkpatrick. 24 of these convictions were later overturned on 23 December 1986.

Many convictions based on supergrass testimony were later overturned, and the supergrass system was discontinued in 1985.

The term has been used more recently to describe an informant with al-Qaeda links testifying at the trials for seven British men conspiring to cause explosions between 1 January 2003 and 31 March 2004, and again on 2 July 2007 in an article in the Daily Mail describing a search for informants in the 2007 Glasgow International Airport attack.[5]

The term has also been used by The Royal Gazette, a daily newspaper in Bermuda, a British dependent territory. An article in the paper uses the term to describe a Transport Control Department worker convicted of selling driver’s licenses to Portuguese applicants lacking the necessary English skills to pass the multiple choice exam. The worker was granted a conditional discharge in exchange for information on other Transport Control Department employees abusing the public trust.[6]

One of the most prolific supergrasses in recent British history was Michael Michael whose evidence in 2001 led to 32 criminals being convicted, including his own mother, and the disruption of a £132milllion drugs ring.


3 Responses to “Joe Bruno on the Mob – Scottish Supergrass (Informant) Finally Gets a Lucky Break”

  1. Great article, hope you don’t mind me adding this, it sort of has a fresh look at the Supergrass…

    “Super-Grasses”, is a chapter from the new book; A Madness Shared by Two that’s about the life of the Eriksson twins and the murder of Glenn Hollinshead; – based on a critque examination of the BBC documentary; Madness in the Fast Lane. The author claims the sisters were likely involved in a drug smuggling ring, and that a ‘deal’ may have been made with the police. The book exposes a police cover-up, and say this is probably due to the reason the twins were under “obbo”, – police observation at the time of the M6 incident. It further exposes the edited-out 27sec [see here] of film footage from the original docementary, that proves the twins were first arrested under the 1983 Mental Health Act, millions have questioned; ‘Why was Sabina released after only 5hrs from this act of madnesss on the motorway?’ The Hollinshead family never knew of this film footage, and now are seeking legal action. In another first, it also reveals that the coroner’s report indicates two weapons were used, and that Sabina could be totally innocent of his murder/manslaughter, and that the real killer/s could still be on the loose!

    “Supergrass” is a slang term for an informer who “grasses” on other members of the gang. One of the first police “grasses” to receive the ‘Supergrass’ nickname, was Bertie Smalls, real name Derek Creighton [1935-2008], born in the East End of London. I once see him in a night club in Tottenham, called Elton’s. He had a kind of Bob Hoskins look and sound about him, a short, squat man, who loved to emphasis his Cockney accent. Throughout history there’s been ‘grasses’, the police were able to jail the Kray twins on the evidence given by gang member Leslie Payne. One of Britain’s most active armed robbers, Bertie “Smalls” was arrested in 1973. Yet despite being involved in many violent crimes in London and the south-east area, he negotiated himself a deal with the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Norman Skelhorn, whereby he would go “QE”, which means to give Queen’s Evidence, in trials of his fellow-robbers in exchange for complete an utter immunity. [1a] Although Smalls was generally described as Britain’s first supergrass, the former Flying Squad ‘governor’ from Scotland Yard, Detective Superintendent Leonard “Nipper” Read, always maintained it was Leslie Payne, adviser to the Kray twins, who gave evidence against them in 1969, who should have had the title.[1a]

    In October 1967, Reggie Kray is alleged to have been encouraged by Ronnie to kill Jack “the Hat” McVitie, an associate of the Kray gang who had failed to fulfil a contract, which was to kill Leslie Payne. Ronald Kray gave a gun and £100 to McVitie with instructions to murder Payne and the promise of a further £400 [2a] [some say it was more; £1,500[3a]] when the ‘job’ had taken place. McVitie was lured to a basement flat in Evering Road, Hackney, and not far from where I was born and lived, on the pretence of a party. As he entered, Reggie Kray pointed a handgun at his head and pulled the trigger twice, but the gun failed to discharge. Ronnie then held McVitie in a bear-hug, whilst Reggie was handed a carving knife, and stabbed McVitie in the face and stomach, then driving the knife deep into his neck, whilst twisting the blade. [2a][4a]

    As we know, according to the pathology report into Glenn Hollinshead’s death, there were four stab wounds and no defence marks. If he too was held like that of McVitie, though obviously not in bear-hug from the front, but someone held Glenn’s arms from behind, this would account for the lack of defence wounds.

    It seemed that “Smalls” had set a precedent, as many of his former ‘associates’ soon followed suit once the taboo of ‘grassing on your mates’ had been broken, and went; “QE”. Whereas a few of them were given such favourable deals by the police and Crown, getting only five years, as opposed to the 18 or more years they could have normally expected.[1a] In 1972, Sir Robert Mark became Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. In that year alone the annual total of armed robberies in the London district was 380, partly because the culture was rife with bribe-taking, sharing in the proceeds of crime and “Verballing-up”, which means the police would say the “suspect” had confessed or said something they never did, or fabricating evidence against them. [5a] Sir Robert Mark felt compelled to remind his detectives which side of the law they were supposed to be on, he told them in his inaugural address: “A good police force is one that catches more criminals than it employs.” It could be argued this wasn’t an exception and took place around the country and in other forces, though perhaps not on such as a grand scale. [5a]

    Take Gary Padgett,[1] who exposed a gang in 2003, and who Stephen Kelsall, then aged 36, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, was part of, after Padgett’s mate and drug-dealer, Philip Smith, was shot dead near Bradford in 2002. Padgett now needs 24/7 police protection, just like those people who are part of the ‘Witness Protection Programme’, they are given new identities if they so wish, and place’s to move to. However, not all ‘Supergrasses’ are exposed as being so. Many inform on other people to get a ‘lesser sentence’, and it’s done in such a way, the persons they have informed on, have no idea they have been ‘grassed-on’. They might have an inclination they have been, though it’s so cleverly done, you’re always in doubt. The police will make it appear you were caught simply as being part of the ‘obbo’, and that’s how it works. Probably Britain’s most prolific modern day Supergrass was Michael Michael, whose evidence led to 34 people being jailed for 170 years, and the dismantling of 26 different drug gangs. Information about Michael’s work as an informer, were kept secret until December 2001, when a judge at Woolwich Crown Court sentenced him to six years in jail. Reporting restrictions that had been in place for three years were lifted.[2]

    Michael’s evidence, led to drugs worth £49m being recovered from a distribution network that is thought to have smuggled more than 110 kg of cocaine and 19,000 kg of cannabis into Britain. Michael has also alleged that a corrupt police officer took £10,000 cash handouts from him. [2][3] Including drug smuggling, money laundering and prostitution, it brought him in an estimated fortune of £107million. Among the people Michael Michael had informed on, were his own wife Lynn, given a 24-month jail sentence suspended for two years for her role as a cash courier, and his younger brother, Xanthos, his lover Sue Richards, and Janice Marlborough, his business lieutenant who ran his string of brothels. He admitted one count of conspiracy to import cocaine, a similar charge involving cannabis, and three conspiracies charges to launder the proceeds. He has also pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm. [2][3] He is thought to have been given a new identity under the terms of the witness protection programme. [2][3]

    Michael’s was a former hairdresser who was ‘under obbo’, and who too became a target from customs detectives, that on the 25th April 1998, Customs investigators launched an “obbo” codenamed Operation Draft. [3] It uncovered 16kg of cocaine, 2.9 tons of cannabis worth £11.6 million, guns and £800,000 in cash. He had been identified as a member of a drug ring, based at the Lee industrial estate in Hertfordshire. They were smuggling cannabis and cocaine into the country in cars, a coach, nicknamed the Fun Bus, and an oil tanker. When officers arrested him after four months, Michael’s was wearing body armour and brandished a gun. Woolwich Crown Court heard that Michael’s alleged he was paying his ‘police handler’ up to £10,000 a week in return for providing information; “of great value”. He claimed the officer turned a blind eye to the drug smuggling. Tracey Kirby, 38, a former Sun page three model, received three years after admitting being a money courier for Michael’s. [4] In 1981 Christopher Black, after securing assurances that he would be granted immunity, he gave statements which led to 38 arrests. On 5 August 1983, 22 members of the Provisional IRA were sentenced to a total of more than 4,000 cumulative years in prison, based on Black’s testimonies alone [eighteen of these convictions were overturned on appeal on 17 July 1986]. [5] By the end of 1982, 25 more ‘Supergrasses’ had surfaced contributing to the arrests of over six hundred people. Many convictions based on ‘Supergrass’ testimony were later overturned, and the ‘Supergrass’ system was discontinued in 1985, until re emerging recently, in 2011. Though to get around this problem, many people are ‘grassed on’, though no testaments are used against then, though it’s normally enough to justify an ‘obbo’ on those the police now have such information on. The first ‘Supergrass’ trial in 26 years began on the 8th of September 2011, for the murder of UDA member Tommy English. [5]





    [4a] ^ Read, Leonard. Nipper Read, The Man Who Nicked The Krays. Time Warner Paperbacks 2001. p.291-292. ISBN 0-7515-3175-8



    [2] ^ a b c Gangster supergrass jailed | UK news | The Guardian

    [3] ^

    [4] ^ Supergrass shopped 34 crooks – even his mother | Mail Online

    [5] ^ Informers crippling IRA…; The Times; 25 Mar 1982; pg1 col E

    For much more details and photos etc. see:

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