Underworld kingpin, 51, dies in hospital while being treated for Covid

Underworld kingpin who was an associate of ‘Mr Big’ mobster Paul Massey and the brother of ‘Teflon Don’ gangster dies in hospital aged 51 while being treated for Covid

  • Underworld ‘legend’ Jason Coghlan, 51, has died in hospital after getting Covid
  • Self-confessed villain was once known as one of most dangerous men in Britain 
  • Friends say he suffered a heart attack while being treated for Covid in Poole
  • A notorious kingpin once known as one of the most dangerous men in Britain has died in hospital while being treated for Covid.

    Jason Coghlan, 51, had turned his back on crime after spending years in maximum security for armed robbery.

    The self-confessed villain – a close associate of slain Salford ‘Mr Big’ Paul Massey – had been working as a legal fixer on Spain‘s Costa del Sol.

    Notorious kingpin Jason Coughlan, 51, (pictured) who had turned his back on crime after spending years in maximum security for armed robbery, has died in hospital while being treated for Covid

    Notorious kingpin Jason Coughlan, 51, (pictured) who had turned his back on crime after spending years in maximum security for armed robbery, has died in hospital while being treated for Covid

    But friends say he suffered a heart attack while being treated for Covid in hospital in Poole, Dorset.

    He died aged 51 two weeks ago just hours before his brother Arran – nicknamed the ‘Teflon Don’ – was due to visit.

    Old hands from Manchester’s criminal underworld are expected to attend Jason’s funeral in his home town of Stockport today, where mourners have been asked to wear black and gold.

    Close friend David O’Connor, from Stockport, said: ‘Jason had a heart of gold but life itself got the better of him I think. He lived as he meant to live and he went out with a bang.’

    The self-confessed villain (pictured) - a close associate of slain Salford 'Mr Big' Paul Massey - had been working as a legal fixer on Spain's Costa del Sol

    The self-confessed villain (pictured) – a close associate of slain Salford ‘Mr Big’ Paul Massey – had been working as a legal fixer on Spain’s Costa del Sol

    Ffriends say Jason (pictured) suffered a heart attack while being treated for Covid in hospital in Poole, Dorset

    Ffriends say Jason (pictured) suffered a heart attack while being treated for Covid in hospital in Poole, Dorset

    Jason’s rise to gangland notoriety began while working as bouncer at Manchester’s legendary nightclub The Hacienda in the 1990s.

    He worked alongside Noonan brothers Desmond and Damien, who ran the club’s door team for Salford-based crime boss Massey.

    Jason was later arrested in 1999 for holding up a post office and served 12 years in a maximum security jail as a double category A prisoner.

    He moved to Spain after his release but soon landed in trouble when he was arrested for extortion.

    The experience prompted him to study Spanish law and he hit on the idea of working as a legal fixer for Brits abroad who fell foul of foreign authorities.

    Jason  died aged 51 two weeks ago just hours before his brother Arran (pictured) - nicknamed the 'Teflon Don' - was due to visit

    Jason  died aged 51 two weeks ago just hours before his brother Arran (pictured) – nicknamed the ‘Teflon Don’ – was due to visit

    In recent years he had been representing British tourist Shane Looker who was extradited from Spain by Thai authorities last month on suspicion of murdering a Bangkok lap dancer in 2014.

    Jason’s pal David, 52, had known him since he was 18. He said: ‘We were good mates and got up to mischief together. Then I went my way and Jason went his, making a career for himself in Spain.’

    Salford’s ‘Mr Big’:  The security firm boss who ran for mayor and people claimed had links with violent gangs

    Paul Massey, who ran a security firm in Salford, Manchester, was found dead in 2015 after being wounded several times. 

    He was well-known in the community with many linking him to the area’s violent gangs.

    The 55-year-old was shot as he got out of his BMW by a lone gunman lying in wait at his house.  

    He predicted his murder nearly 20 years before he was gunned down.

    Interviewed in the late 1990s for a BBC documentary, never broadcast, the underworld boss admitted: ‘I could be shot dead any time … I am prepared to face that. I know the stakes.’

    Massey was dubbed the ‘Mr Big’ of Salford during a town hall meeting in 1992 to discuss civil disturbances.

    Then in his early 30s, he vehemently denied the crime lord allegation made by a councillor, and insisted he had nothing to do with the unrest.

    In 1996 he was charged over a riot at a boxing bout, but was cleared following a trial.

    Massey survived an attempt on his life by a man armed with a machine gun and issued a public warning, saying: ‘I pity the bastard who did it.’

    Justice finally caught up with him when he was jailed for 14 years for attempted murder after he knifed a man in the groin outside a Manchester pub in 1998. A TV crew was filming him at the time for a documentary on gangs.

    Massey, who despite his nickname was little more than 5ft tall, stood for mayor of Salford in 2012 even though he was under investigation over money laundering allegations.

    During the unsuccessful campaign, he said: ‘I don’t want to be known as Mr Big … People have got me wrong.’

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    He explained how he spoke to Jason weeks before his death and learned days later he was in hospital with coronavirus.

    ‘I hadn’t seen him for a couple of years but I spoke to him a few weeks ago,’ David said.

    ‘He was back from Spain and was on a bender in Galway when I spoke to him.

    ‘I couldn’t get hold of him after that so I called his brother Arran who told me Jason had caught Covid and was in an induced coma in Poole. And then he’s had a heart attack while being treated.

    ‘It’s going to be a big send off with gospel singers and all the big cars, just how he would want it to be.’

    Recycling firm boss David said he expected crime figures from Jason’s heydays to pay their last respects.

    ‘They’ll probably come, show their face and get off,’ he said.

    ‘A lot of the ex-criminals who are still about are trying to keep a low profile. There are new people about town and old vengeances are still lying there.’

    Some of Jason’s key associates have long since fallen victim to their lives of crime.

    Paul Massey was gunned down by gangland executioner Mark ‘Iceman’ Fellows in 2015.

    Desmond Noonan was stabbed to death by a crack dealer in 2005.

    Meanwhile his brother Damien died in 2003 following a quad bike accident in the Dominican Republic.

    In a poignant tribute shared with friends, Jason’s brother Arran – who earned his Teflon Don nickname by beating three murder charges – revealed how he missed saying a final goodbye to his sibling when he died in the early hours of the morning.

    Arran, from Alderley Edge, Cheshire, admitted he had ‘not always seen eye to eye’ with his brother.

    But he wrote: ‘I had the feeling I needed to put everything aside and get to him, a decision made stranger (even than our relationship) by the fact he was in Poole hospital (about as far south as you can get) and the time of night.

    ‘I got to the area at 2:30am, got some sleep and was arranging to see him in the morning. He passed at 3am.

    ‘He left as he lived, not in line with anyone else’s plans. Not even mine.’ He said Jason was a ‘one off’.

    ‘He will no doubt be back in another form and will be recognisable by his mad ways. Watch out for him – always,’ he said.

    He added: ‘Love and light to my one and only brother.’

    Broadcaster and true crime journalist Livvy Haydock, who interviewed Jason for her podcast ‘Gangster’ chronicling the life and times of Paul Massey paid tribute on social media.

    She wrote on Twitter: ‘I’m so sad to hear of your passing. Rest in peace Jason x.’

    ‘Teflon Don’:  The businessman who escaped three murder charges

    Jason’s millionaire brother Arran Coghlan had his fair share of dealings with the courts in his life time. 

    In 2011 he escaped charges of masterminding a plot to flood the UK with cocaine.

    Jason's millionaire brother Arran Coghlan (pictured) had his fair share of dealings with the courts in his life time

    Jason’s millionaire brother Arran Coghlan (pictured) had his fair share of dealings with the courts in his life time

    It came after in 1996 he was acquitted of the gangland murder of drug baron Chris Little because he set his rottweilers on rivals. 

    Little, 32, was shot dead at the wheel of his Mercedes but Coghlan was cleared after telling the jury he was playing computer games at the time of the killing. 

    In 2002, Coghlan was accused of the horrific murder of drug dealer David Barnshaw, who was kidnapped, forced to drink petrol and burnt to death in the boot of a car in September 1999.

    And in February 2010, he was arrested after Stephen ‘Aki’ Akinyemi, 36, was found lying dead in a pool of blood in the bathroom of Coghlan’s £2million Cheshire mansion.

    Coghlan dialled 999 and told police he had been stabbed in an unprovoked attack by Mr Akinyemi.

    He was charged with murder but the case was dropped when the Crown Prosecution Service said it could not prove Coghlan had not acted in self defence.

    Coghlan – who survived an attempt on his life in a bar on New Year’s Day, 2009 – emerged from Strangeways prison in 2011 and said: ‘I’m no Teflon Don like the police say I am.’ 

    The nickname is a reference to the non-stick coating used in saucepans, with the implication that no charge will stick to him. 

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