11 December 2005

Sidekick of Gray can't sell assets

Sunday Life

By Ciaran McGuigan
11 December 2005

ASSETS belonging to slain crime boss Jim Gray's closest pal have been restrained by police.

Cops have been granted an order under the Proceeds of Crime Act preventing Gary Matthews disposing of his assets before a High Court hearing, due to be heard early next year.

Sunday Life understands that the restraining order is related to a police investigation into alleged money laundering during which Jim 'Doris Day' Gray, his girlfriend Sharon Moss and Belfast estate agent Philip Johnston were all charged.

Now police have moved to prevent Matthews disposing of money and assets.

It is not clear whether his assets include paintings which Milltown murderer Michael Stone claims were stolen from him by Jim Gray in 2002.

As Sunday Life revealed last week, killer-turned-artist Stone believes Gray stole two of his canvases and passed them on to his friends as gifts.

Matthews was Gray's 'business partner' and owned shares in the slain crime lord's former Belfast bars, the Bunch of Grapes and the Avenue One.

He was also his second-in-command in the UDA's east Belfast brigade until the pair were booted out of the loyalist terror group.

The pair had spent time in jail together in the early 1990s while awaiting trial on blackmailing charges.

The case against them collapsed, however, due to the unreliability of the main prosecution witness.

And when they walked free from court, Gray and Matthews returned to east Belfast to take over the running of the UDA.

The pair were back in court last year when they tried to sue the Axa Insurance Company for more than £60,000 following a fire at the Bunch of Grapes in January, 2001.

The claim was broken down into £45,000 for repairs and £15,000 for loss of revenue.

Cops investigating the murder of loyalist hitman Geordie Legge shortly before the fire probed a possible link between the blaze and Legge's horrific death.

The claim for damages was eventually withdrawn after Axa stated that Gray had failed to disclose his involvement with the UDA .

Matthews stayed away when his pal was buried in October after being gunned down by their former pals in the UDA.

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