Sunday, February 5, 2017


Written by Scott Williams-Collier
Dominic Noonan

The city of Manchester in the North West of England has a long and brutal history of gang culture dating back to the 1870's. Back then in Victorian times they were known as Scuttlers and were present in the working class areas in Manchester, Salford and the surrounding areas.

The face of gangland has changed a lot from the days of the clog and bell-bottom trouser wearing Scuttlers of the late 19th century. As with everything things change and evolve over time and crime groups are no different.

The use of guns became prevalent in Manchester in recent decades; especially in the 90's and 2000's. So much so that the city of Manchester was nicknamed Gunchester by the press.

There are many gangs and criminals who have all contributed to Manchester's gunchester nickname over the years. One of those gangs is the infamous Noonan family. The Noonan's made their name in the 1980's and 1990's working security at clubs like the famous Hacienda night club. They were also prolific security cash truck robbers.

Brothers Damian, Desmond ( Dessie) and Dominic Noonan arose from poverty into the Manchester criminal underworld in the 1980's; starting as doormen working security at nightclubs around the city. Desmond Noonan earned respect as a tough guy who could fight with a very imposing presence, which gave him creditably and respect in Manchester. By the late 80's Desmond and his family were said to have control over most of the nightlife security in the city.

The Noonan family really came to prominence in 1991 with the gangland murder of rival leader of the Cheetham Hill Gang,  Anthony "White Tony" Johnson. Johnson had been causing trouble at the Hacienda nightclub and apparently was in trouble with the Noonan family regarding a money dispute over a cash truck robbery. He was later found shot to death in a pub car park. Desmond Noonan was charged and tried for the murder but was later acquitted.

Desmond (Dessie) Noonan
 The Noonan's legend grew in the 1990's and they became one of the most fear and respected gangs in the UK. Through their brother Dessie Noonan (an enforcer) they made connections with other criminals and gangs across England involved in the supply of guns and drugs. The family had earned a reputation not to be messed with in the criminal underworld. Along with his brother Dominic the Noonan's were suspected by the police of being involved in at least 25 murders across the city.

Desmond Noonan was a violent man who was known for intimidating witnesses and jury tampering, which would usually result in people refusing to testify against him and his family members.

Dominic Noonan was a prolific armed robber with a wide range of offences to his name including police assault, prison escape and possession of a firearm. He has spent most of his adult life in prison.

In a 2006 documentary called A Very British Gangster by Donal MacIntyre; based on the Noonan's life of crime. Dominic recalled a chilling story to Donal. He recalled a time when they were having major issues with gangs coming to the Hacienda club causing trouble. Dominic told Donal they had had enough and went looking for the gang at a pub they were known to frequent. Along with a friend armed with a sawn-off shotgun and a machete he chopped a gang members dogs head off which had been left tired up outside the pub. He went inside with the dogs head in his hand and threw it on a pool table and told them, "if we see you at the club again the next time it will be a human head"! The gang never went back to the Hacienda club.

In the early 2000's the Noonan's brother Damian was killed in a motorbike accident on holiday. Family boss Dessie Noonan developed a crack-cocaine addiction, something which seriously damaged his reputation in organised crime circles.

During the filming of A Very British Gangster Desmond Noonan was fatally stabbed in an argument and left to die in the street outside a drug dealers home in Chorlton. Dessie had apparently been out drinking heavily at a nearby pub and had left to go looking for drugs. It's believed he was using his name and reputation in the criminal world to intimidate drug dealers into giving him drugs for free. Strangely the drug dealer Derek McDuffus who stabbed Dessie Noonan offered no explanation for the stabbing and denied killing him instead of declaring it was in self-defense. He is currently serving a life sentence with the judge recommending he should serve a minimum of 15 years.

Dominic Noonan has had constant issues with the law throughout his entire life. Even during the filming of his documentary and declaring he was going straight, hes found himself in constant trouble with the authorities. He was sentenced in 2016 to 9 years in prison for arson, blackmail and 2 counts of perverting the course of justice. More worryingly Noonan was also charged with forcing an underage boy into performing a sex act on him. Although he was found innocent of this charge he was given a further 2 years on his sentence for trying to bribe the boys parents with £5000 to get the boy to drop the charges.

Although some of the younger Noonan family members have made the headlines in recent years its more or less the end for the old guard and possibly for the Noonan family as a whole in gangland. With his 2 older brother now dead Dominic is now serving an 11 year prison sentence. There are many that fear the 52 year old gangster who suffers diabetes may not last his sentence.

There is very rarely a happy ending for the people that choose to live outside the law and involve themselves in organised crime like the Noonans.  In most cases it ends in 2 ways, with your death or a life sentence and the Noonan's are no exception.

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