James Lawson was a man who could not stop drawing attention to himself. It appeared that he thrived on being flash, making very loud hints about himself, and making sure everybody knew who he was. On this last point, he was spectacularly right. On 10th February 1988, he opened the door of his home in Hook, Hampshire, to be met with a hail of bullets. He was rushed to North Hampshire Hospital in Basingstoke, where a couple of hours later, he was pronounced dead. But why should somebody blast this unpleasant but seemingly law abiding car salesman. The truth was more revealing. His real name was Peter McNeil, aged 40, a professional criminal who had turned supergrass against some very dangerous people. This included a Colombian drug cartel and the Detroit Mafia. A couple of Londoners also went down, due to his testimony.
McNeil found himself in very deep trouble, after being arrested in Colombia in 1985, setting up a £20,000,000 Cocaine deal. He decided to turn informant for the American DEA, and arranged a deal with two Mob men from Detroit. They came over to England, and one of them, David Medin, was arrested en route to Grays in Essex. He had 37 kgs of Cocaine in his car. This was enough to put him behind bars for a long time, so he decided to roll over for the authorities. On trial at the Old Bailey went 59 year old John O`Boyle from Detroit, and two men from London; Lloyd hibbert, 56, & David Raferty, 49. They both received ten years each, whilst O`Boyle received 18 years. McNeil was put into the Witness Protection Programme, and relocated to Hook in Hampshire. His behaviour attracted attention, and there were claims that he openly boasted that he was an informer and frequently flashed large amounts of cash in the locals faces. But then again, it may not have been a Mob hit.
McNeil had made a number of enemies in the car trade, was said to have been involved in drugs, and supposedly supplied security for pubs and clubs in the Midlands. Most dangerous of all, he was an out and out womaniser, who upset many husbands and boyfriends. All of these are realistic reasons for his murder. And one point to remember. If it was a Mob guy who shot him, why did he not put one or two in the head? He would have had the time, and it would of made sure he was dead. Just a thought.