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Saturday, 11 June 2011

'I'm no Teflon Don,' says gangster suspect who has dodged three murder charges

00:46 | , ,

A wealthy businessman who has been cleared of three separate murder charges has walked away from another major trial.

Millionaire Arran Coghlan, 39, declared ‘I’m no Teflon Don’ after he escaped charges of masterminding a plot to flood the UK with cocaine.

Coghlan sat back in court and laughed as he told the judge: ‘I’ve booked a two-week cruise.’

Arrran Coghlan has been dramatically released from prison after a fourth trial over drugs charges collapsed

In 1996, Coghlan was acquitted of the gangland murder of drug baron Chris Little, dubbed the ‘Devil Dog Mobster’ 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.

The £5million case against Coghlan and others collapsed when it was revealed police had failed to pass on vital information about another possible suspect.

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 drives a Bentley Turbo, lives in a mansion in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, where he rubs shoulders with Premier League footballers and soap stars. He claims he runs a legitimate enterprise offering consultancy services to businesses and says he has been victimised by detectives in a decade-long campaign.

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

Coghlan was greeted by a group outside the prison after the case at Liverpool Crown Court was dropped

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

Coghlan was arrested in September last year by officers for the Serious Organised Crime Agency as he stepped off a flight from Amsterdam at Manchester Airport.

It was alleged he and others were heading a multi-million-pound cocaine smuggling ring.

But at Liverpool Crown Court, Brian Cummings, prosecuting, said: ‘In the light of a lack of evidence and other developments, the prosecution no longer has enough evidence to proceed.’

Coghlan, who appeared on a video link from Strangeways, rubbed his hands and laughed.

He told the judge: ‘I have booked a cruise for two weeks and I have had enough with people stabbing me in the neck and trying to say that I deal drugs.’ Coghlan was arrested as part of an investigation into a massive cocaine smuggling ring and had spent ten months awaiting trial.

He added: ‘They were quite happy to suggest I was involved in some way in drug trafficking. Anybody who knows me knows I have nothing to do with drugs whatsoever.’

He said: ‘I am completely legit. It seems like the police have created the Teflon Don legend themselves.’

After returning home, he enjoyed a meal with partner Claire and their children, Lincoln and Francesca.


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