How a mafia gangster and convicted murderer fled to a caravan park near Preston, Lancashire, then went to the pub

An Italian mafia gangster and convicted murderer has spoken about the time he spent hiding out in a caravan park near Preston in Lancashire - and enjoying a pint at the pub.

Friday, 14th February 2020, 3:39 pm
Updated Friday, 14th February 2020, 3:49 pm
Gennaro Panzuto

Talking to BBC reporter Dominic Casciani from his maximum security prison near Aosta in northern Italy, Gennaro Panzuto said he enjoyed his time at The Six Arches Caravan Park on the River Wyre, just a few miles from Garstang, Preston and Lancaster.

During the interview - supposed to be a full confession - he admitted his crime, though refused to put a number on the murders he had committed for fear of incriminating himself further.

The charismatic gangster, 45, who later lived in a house in Catterall, said: “My crimes range from murder, attempted murder and mafia association, extortion, drug trafficking, arms trafficking and money laundering.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Genarro Panzuto

Panzuto started his criminal career aged 14 in a poor neighbourhood of Naples as a thief and a proficient pick-pocket - eventually getting 'talent spotted' by the mafia.

“I was really renowned. That was my bad luck,” he said.

Following a murder, Panzuto felt the police closing in and decided to flee to England with the help of British criminal friends.

He flew at Liverpool John Lennon Airport and was collected by a Rolls Royce.

Panzuto said: “You don’t know how much I smiled.

"These English guys - and they were scrambling to meet me - they sent me this chauffeur.

"And then we went to the pub.”

He then rented a unit at the caravan park and sent for his wife and children from Naples.

Panzutio was eventually tracked down by Italian investgators and turned supergrass.

As reported by this newspaper at the time, then 34, he was arrested at his rented home in Catterall in May 2007 and extradited to Italy where he faced questioning in connection with a number of murders.

His admissions included at least one murder and involvement in a bloody turf war in his native Naples which has seen dozens of deaths.

Neighbours in Catterall had though father-of-three "Genny" was involved in the shoe business but in Naples he was the feared boss of the Torretta quarter, a clan that forms part of the notorious Camorra mafia.

READ THE BBC'S STORY HEREOur report following his arrest :

Panzuto may have been living the life of a normal family and career man in the quiet village of Catterall – but back in his native Naples his credentials are very different.

In scenes reminiscent of the film The Godfather, Panzuto was the head of the powerful Pincirillo clan, part of the Camorra Mafia.

He has taken the role over from from his uncles of the same name when they were finally arrested by police two years ago.

During his time as leader his clan became embroiled in a deadly battle between another clan – the Missos – which resulted in the known deaths of 20 people.

Panzuto himself is suspected with involvement in four of those murders.

The Naples Flying Squad have been battling for years to tackle the legacy of the ongoing clan wars and bring those responsible to justice.

Vittorio Pisano, chief of the Naples Flying Squad, said: “Panzuto is a very senior Mafia member and his arrest is of great significance.

“He is very dangerous and is suspected of four murders.

“He was the head of the Pincirillo clan which he took over from his uncles of the same name when they were arrested two years ago. Panzuto is also wanted for extortion, illegal possession of firearms and Mafia association.”

Unlike the Sicilian Cosa Nostra – made famous in the Godfather movies – the Camorra is a mafia made up of many clans that often fight each other.

The shootings in this already lawless city are largely drug related.

Quoted in the Independent in March this year, Franco Roberti, head of the anti-Mafia investigation team in Naples, said: “In Naples, people are killed almost exclusively for drugs.

“Cocaine flows like a river and generates fabulous profits.

“The clans are fighting for control of the trade. If one clan invests a million euros in a delivery of coca, they can quadruple their money in no time.”