19 March 2006

Gray a spent force

Sunday Life

Assets Recovery Agency in for shock - 'brigadier of bling' was skint when he died

Stephen Breen and Ciaran McGuigan
19 March 2006

Loyalist godfather Jim 'Doris Day' Gray blew his entire fortune . . . UP HIS NOSE!

The bleach-haired UDA 'brigadier of bling' - who shamelessly led the high-life on proceeds from drug dealing and rackets - had spent almost every penny he had before he was gunned down.

Most of his ill-gotten gains were blown on his insatiable appetite for the three Cs - COCAINE, CHAMPAGNE and designer CLOTHES.

Loyalist sources have revealed that Gray's flash lifestyle belied the fact that by the end he was actually up to his neck in debt - even his status symbol BMW was on tick.

"Claims about Gray's wealth have been greatly exaggerated," said one leading east Belfast loyalist.

"Sure he made a fortune when he was running his rackets. But he spent it as fast as it was coming in.

"By the end, the UDA had booted him out, the cops were all over him like a rash and his money was slipping away."

Last year, the Assets Recovery Agency won a court order freezing Gray's assets, believed to be worth about £200,000.

They included an interest in a house in the Clarawood estate in east Belfast and a top-of-the-range BMW M5, worth over £60,000.

However, if loyalist sources are right, Gray was so heavily in debt that his net worth may turn out to be only a fraction of the value of the assets that were frozen.

Said one loyalist source: "When Gray died he had very little money left.

"Everything that he owned was on credit, the house and cars and whatever. All the money was gone.

"What he didn't snort up his nose went on the foreign holidays, the flash clothes and the rest of his 'bling bling' lifestyle. He loved showing off, playing the big man, taking his cronies on holiday or for weekends in plush hotels."

At a court hearing in May, 2005, it was revealed Gray received £130,000 from the sale of two pubs in east Belfast, the Bunch of Grapes and the Avenue One.

But it is understood the money quickly disappeared as Gray's life in the fast lane gathered pace.

Fellow UDA bosses gave Gray the boot last year, after even they became embarrassed by his flamboyant lifestyle and his Mafia-style crime empire.

In just one weekend in Dublin, the perma-tanned gangster spent more than £20,000, living it up in a penthouse suite at the plush Merrion Hotel and guzzling gallons of champagne.

Financial investigators had originally hoped to retrieve a net amount of around £100,000 from Gray's assets.

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