Panic room and strip club raids to track down city’s most wanted

The conviction of a drugs gang boss captured in a strip club marked the latest success for a campaign that has hunted some of Liverpool's most notorious criminals.

Dominic McInally spent six years on the run after his £1m-a-month drugs gang was busted when six kilograms of cocaine were discovered in Crosby.

During that time his face was plastered across advertising vans and TV appeals as he became one of almost 100 fugitives the British authorities believed were hiding in Spain.

He was one of more than a dozen figures linked to Merseyside who featured in Operation Captura, a major international effort supported by the National Crime Agency and the crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers.

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Captura sought the UK's most wanted suspects and, 15 years on from its launch, has succeeded in tracking down almost every person to have featured within it.

McInally lived in Formby before his departure for Malaga – where he was arrested in a strip club last year. This month he was found guilty of a cocaine conspiracy following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

When the 30-year-old is sentenced this week he will become the 10th Merseyside criminal from Captura to have been brought to justice.

Just two suspects linked to Liverpool remain outstanding.

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From armed drug lord hiding in a panic room to reformed character now on the frontline of the battle against crime

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One of the most dramatic arrests saw Mark ‘Fatboy’ Lilley detained after police raided his Costa del Sol home and found him naked in a panic room.

He had been listed as one of the country’s most wanted fugitives when he went on the run from a 23-year jail sentence for cocaine and heroin trafficking in 2000.

He was found 13 years later when 40 armed police stormed the property and uncovered Lilley, linked to St Helens, in a bolted panic room concealed behind a wardrobe.

The original mugshot of Mark Lilley

Lilley had been watching the raid from a computer linked to CCTV cameras surrounding the Andalucian villa and had a handgun at his side.

But he eventually gave himself up and was handcuffed, wrapped in a towel and hauled out of the villa into a waiting helicopter.

Mark Ronald Brown's gang smuggled as much as £56m of heroin, originally from Afghanistan, leading to him being handed a 16-year term in 2010.

Then aged 45, the Prescot man was handed a seven year travel restriction order banning him from leaving the UK after his release.

He had actually been captured in the Netherlands in 2009.

Brown featured in the fifth tranche of Captura appeals along with Paul Walmsley.

Paul Walmsley photographed at Burbo Bank near Crosby in December 2017 ; Liverpool ECHO

The Norris Green man went on the run when his associates were arrested – but he returned to the UK in 2011 and handed himself in at Copy Lane police station.

He was later jailed for ten years after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and has since turned his life around after being released from prison several years ago.

Today he is a reformed character and works with organisations across the city to try and deter young people from becoming involved in organised crime

Prison van escape artists and the Unlucky 13

Tony Downes (left) and Kirk Bradley

The seventh set of appeals included two men from Merseyside who are among the country's most notorious criminals.

Tony Downes and Kirk Bradley sparked a Europe-wide manhunt after being sprung from a prison van in Salford.

They were on their way to Liverpool Crown Court where they were on trial for orchestrating a campaign of attacks on underworld rivals.

The pair, from Huyton, were eventually tracked down in the Netherlands in 2012.

Both were convicted in their absence of conspiracies to possess firearms and damage property with intent to endanger life and were sentenced to life with a minimum of 22 years.

Ian Stanton was named by police as Merseyside's most wanted

Ian Charles Stanton was jailed for 12 years after he was also captured in the Netherlands.

He was sentenced for his role in a conspiracy to supply cocaine smuggled in a cargo of Argentinian beef.

The 400kg plot was busted at Tilbury Docks, in Essex, in May 2013.

Stanton, of Blundellsands, was accused of playing a significant role in the plan for its recovery and fled the country before being tracked to Rotterdam and arrested.

David Hewson

David Hewson, who was in the eighth set of Captura appeals along with Stanton – a batch labelled the Unlucky 13, was found in Spain.

He had fled the country in October 2012 while awaiting a lengthy sentence for masterminding a conspiracy to flood the region’s streets with cocaine.

The Litherland criminal was eventually arrested in the Benahavis area of the Costa del Sol and was brought back under police guard from Madrid to serve the 11-year sentence handed down in his absence.

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Drug dealer Scott Hughes, 35, who was on the run for five years, was jailed for nine years at Liverpool Crown Court

Scott Hughes spent five years in hiding before being captured and pleading guilty to his role in a major heroin, cocaine and cannabis plot.

He had vanished back in 2011 after police raids uncovered £212,000 and a cash counting machine at his Tarbock Green home and then led police on an international manhunt as he hid out in Dubai before being captured by Belgian police.

While several of the figures who featured in Captura lived in luxury while on the run, it was said Hughes went “off the grid” and had been jet washing caravans, awnings and patios as the odd job man at a camping and caravan site in Benidorm before he was captured at Brussells airport.

He was sentenced to eight and a half years.

David McDermott, from Ormskik, arrested in Ghana over £140m plot to smuggle cocaine into the UK in Argentinian beef

In contrast to Hughes, David McDermott was said to have “lived like an African King” while on the run.

The dad-of-six was captured in Accra, the capital of Ghana, in a sting led by the National Crime Agency and the country's authorities.

McDermott, from Ormskirk, was jailed for 13 years for his role in the same plot Stanton had been linked to.

After McDermott’s arrest it emerged he had married the daughter of the Governor of the Central Bank in Ghana.

The two that have not been caught

Kevin Parle – wanted in connection with two murders

Of the near-100 wanted men and women to have been the subjects of Captura, only 10 now remain outstanding.

Two of those are linked to Merseyside – Kevin Parle and Mark Quinn.

Parle, also known as Hemp, is wanted in connection with the murders of 16-year-old Liam Kelly in 2004 and Lucy Hargreaves in 2005.

Described as stocky, 195cm in height and with short ginger hair, he has become the subject of a manhunt by celebrity ex-detective Peter Bleksley.

Mark Quinn

Quinn is wanted by Police Scotland on suspicion of supplying amphetamine.

Between August 2013 and April 2014 he was allegedly involved in an organised crime group concerned in the production, transportation and distribution of amphetamine with a street value of over £11 million.

He is in his 50s and is described as 5ft 9ins tall, of large build and with short brown hair.

'There is no safe place to hide'

Dominic McInally

McInally's arrest, extradition and conviction marked the latest in a long line of successes for Captura.

As the sentence hearing of the latest fugitive from the campaign approaches, Gary Murray, the North West Regional Manager of Crimestoppers, said: “We are absolutely delighted by the success of the Operation Captura campaign over the last 10 years. Working in partnership with the NCA and Spanish Police with the support of the media, many dangerous criminals have been arrested and brought back to the UK and are now serving prison sentences.

"These individuals thought that they could escape justice, but the campaign shows that there is no safe place to hide and that by featuring these individuals and the crimes that they are wanted for, they can be located and arrested.

“The campaigns were widely publicised both here and in Spain often featuring on the TV in both countries and during some of the campaigns we have used large mobile Advans touring areas of the Costas frequented by ex-pats, features in local English papers and posters in cafes.

“The support of the public has been crucial in the campaigns success, and we would like to thank them for their help in bringing these criminals to justice.

“Every year Crimestoppers receives over 7,500 pieces of information on crime from the public in Merseyside. This leads to numerous arrests and drugs and weapons taken off our streets.

All information received by Crimestoppers is anonymous and we will never reveal the identity of anyone who contacts us either by phone or via our online form.

"In 32 years we have never broken this promise of anonymity.”

*Anyone with information about crime can contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or online here.

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