Like father, like son: 'Mad Pup' Adair, brought up in shadow of violence and drugs, was destined for bad end
Published 12/09/2016 | 09:01
Jonathan Adair lived in the shadow of his father. And the boy dubbed 'Mad Pup' also lived in the shadow of the gunman - just like 'Mad Dog'.
Indeed, at one stage his father, UFF terror gang and drug-dealing godfather Johnny, even ordered his son to be shot in both legs.
That happened in the summer of 2002 when Jonathan was just 17. Despite his youth, he had developed a reputation as a troublemaker.
Earlier that year he'd been beaten up by a gang of his father's henchmen armed with baseball bats and iron bars after he'd broken into the home of an 84-year-old woman and stolen her purse. Adair was also reported to have given the boy a beating after he took his car without asking.
In his book - Mad Dog: The Rise And Fall Of Johnny Adair and 'C' Company - veteran crime journalist Hugh Jordan describes how Jonathan finally tipped his father over the edge when he assaulted a female shop assistant in a filling station on Belfast's Crumlin Road.
Mad Dog ordered one of his top 'C' Coy henchmen to shoot his own son in both legs. The 'punishment shooting' was carried out using a 9mm pistol.
Jordan wrote: "For anybody else the attack would almost certainly have been more severe."
The author quoted one of Adair's friends as saying: "Johnny had no choice other than to give his blessing.
"There was a whole catalogue of things.
"Johnny beat the f*** out of him a couple of times. He knew it was only a matter of time before he (Jonathan) was going to get shot."
And on another level, Jonathan Adair was reputed to be no stranger to wielding a weapon himself. While behind bars his father had fallen out - big time - with another criminal, also, coincidentally, dubbed Mad Dog.
On release that conman - he once got hold of a credit card stolen from Ian Paisley jnr and was caught trying to use it in a supermarket in, of all places, Ballymena - was known as a regular customer in a downtown Belfast bar.
At one stage a gunman walked into the pub in broad daylight when it was packed with customers. He pointed a gun at the other Mad Dog with whom Johnny Adair was still feuding back out on the streets. The gun jammed. The would-be killer, wearing a baseball cap, fled.
- Read more: Son of Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair found dead
- Read more: Police investigate 'unexplained' death of 'Mad Pup' - son of loyalist terror boss 'Mad Dog' Adair
The wannabe assassin was reputed to be Jonathan Adair.
In spite of CCTV images being recovered by police from the pub he was never identified and never charged.
However, he was never a 'front line' terrorist like his father.
But he did follow one of his father's illegal traits: involvement in taking, supplying and selling illicit drugs.
Mad Dog bulked up his body by pumping iron and swallowing handfuls of steroids.
Mad Pup lapped up drugs for another reason: to party and get high. And that spiralled out of control when he fled the lower Shankill and Northern Ireland with his mother Gina and his other siblings in February 2003 - less than a year after his father had him shot.
That was when the rest of the UDA in the area laid siege to the lower Shankill lair of 'C' Coy - Johnny Adair was still in jail - and forced them, including Mad Dog's so-called 'consigliere' John 'Coco' White, to flee in a boat to Scotland. They were escorted to the Seacat terminal in Belfast by armed police, and were later disparagingly labelled by their UDA foes 'Seacat Company' instead of 'C' Company.
And when Gina was stopped by police and found to be carrying a wad of money and her jewellery in a shoe box, the whole saga was dubbed 'The Flight of the Pearls' by Belfast wags.
Mad Dog himself had already been found guilty of treason and was 'court martialled' in his absence by a UDA kangaroo court.
He was airlifted by helicopter from Maghaberry Prison on the day of his release and flown across the water "for his own protection", according to the authorities.
Later, the whole Adair family and the rump of 'C' Coy re-grouped in the English town of Bolton, where they became known as 'the Bolton Wanderers'.
It was there that Adair set up another drugs mini-empire, implicating both Gina and his son as well.
Indeed, mother and son were to have their collars felt by the English cops.
They charged Gina with dealing heroin and crack around Christmas 2003, but the charges were dropped in spring the following year.
A year later Jonathan and two of his mates from Belfast did end up in the dock. They were convicted of drug dealing and banged up for five years each.
Since then, of course, Jonathan's mother and father have split up. It was an amicable break-up: both have been pictured together since. Mad Dog moved to Troon, where he started a family with a new partner.
Jonathan moved back up to Scotland too, where until recently he was in jail, convicted of motoring offences. He was also facing charges of trying to smuggle drugs into prison.
Yesterday, one politician recalled going to meet Johnny Adair at his 'Big Brother House' HQ on the Shankill. Mad Dog was one of the UDA's first 'Brigadiers of Bling' - gold necklaces, gold rings, gold earrings. As they used to say in Belfast: "The bigger the earrings, the smaller the brain."
The politician recalled how Jonathan would have been only about three at the time.
He said: "Johnny came up riding a quad. He had the wee lad perched in front of him.
"The child was wearing a thick gold chain round his neck and, even then, earrings."
Like father, like son indeed.
And there's one other likeness in this whole sorry story that should not be overlooked.
Another son of a UDA godfather who followed in his father's footsteps was also the offspring of a UDA 'Brigadier of Bling'.
He was also called Jonathan: Jonathan Gray. His father was the notorious east Belfast 'brigadier' Jim 'Doris Day' Gray, since kicked out and killed by his own cohorts.
Jonathan Gray followed his father into the illicit drugs trade, too.
And he too died of a lethal cocktail of drugs in a Thai hotel surrounded by prostitutes... aged just 18 years of age.
In the case of both Jonathans, it is a classic and tragic case of the sins of the godfathers being visited upon their sons.