Sea villa

Nicola Tallant: ‘Johnny Morrissey flaunted his wealth on the Costa – he thought he was untouchable’

The veteran criminal was arrested by Spanish police this week as part of an investigation into money laundering allegations.

It was 2015 and Morrissey was building a lavish mansion on the Costa Del Sol, every little development featured in a Facebook video so pals could watch the monstrosity as it emerged from the landscape with statues of Roman emperors and a stained glass window tailor-made from floor to roof with Nero.

Douglas, who had served time in Ireland for cocaine-related offences, was shot while walking his dogs but – convinced he had survived – posted pictures of himself in hospital bed and was very active online.

“It’s absolutely fantastic,” he remarked of the photos of the huge villa Morrissey was building. “You planned it perfectly. Kudos to you and I’m sure you didn’t plan this all on your own! Am I right Nicola?? Nice job!”

My namesake Nicola was Morrissey’s incredibly glamorous and younger Scottish wife who seemed to spend her days at charity events, visiting beauticians and throwing parties for friends and family. A real soft gangster.

“Ha ha. My ideas. Nicola must agree before the builders begin. Ha ha,” Morrissey replied.

Douglas continued, “Does my room face the front or the back, Johnny?? Truly breathtaking!!!

“Yours is at the top. Room with the best view,” replied Morrissey who then asked Douglas to travel to Spain with a well-known Irish personality for his birthday weekend. “I’m going to an amazing birthday,” he finished.

Douglas was never able to visit. He was murdered by a team led by Kinahan ‘Fat’ enforcer Freddie Thompson months later, his shot one of 18 executed by mobs in two bloody years of violence in Dublin.

I watched in awe and horror as Morrissey’s extraordinary home was built. I’ve seen finished videos and looked at photos of the parties that followed.

I’m not that scary that I stalk anyone online. Morrissey had a huge criminal pedigree and I found it hard to believe he spent his money so openly on the Costa Del Sol, feeling so untouchable.

Morrissey had previously lived in Kinsale in Ireland, part of a wave of British mobsters who had washed up here before the establishment of the Criminal Assets Bureau.

He had bought a restaurant and loved nothing more than spending a day at sea fishing on his high-powered motorboat, which would later be suspected of being a ruse to land cocaine on our shores.

He had fallen foul of the CAB after its creation and flew under the radar during Operation Firedamp which targeted notorious drug lord George ‘The Penguin’ Mitchell.

Then the Bureau demanded €130,000 from Morrissey, which enraged him so much that they later discovered he was plotting to kill his lawyer Barry Galvin.

Cork’s solicitor had to be given a gun for his own protection afterwards.

Morrissey had fled Ireland and headed to the Costa where he only started to come back on my radar because of his public boasting about the mansion he was building.

I looked at Morrissey and soon began to notice his Kinahan ties.

At one point, I found a photo of him with the Mafia’s Kevin Lynch, the armed robber who has been one of Dapper Don’s closest associates since the turn of the century.

When a young Morrissey associate celebrated his birthday, I saw the posts about the special treatment he received meeting boxers in Daniel Kinahan’s MGM gymnasium, which later became MTK.

There were also some famous friends and British comedy legend Freddie Starr was a regular at Morrissey’s get-togethers.

When the comedian died, Morrissey posted a video of them together by a swimming pool in the sun. “I have just been told that my dear old friend Freddy Starr has just died tonight at his home here in Spain. …..God rest Freddy’s soul in peace. A man of great talent who made millions laugh of people. I will miss you my old friend.

In 2018, Morrissey publicly bragged that he had developed a potato-based vodka he believed was going to be a huge hit and which he planned to sell across Europe.

He named it after his hero, Nero, whose images adorned his crude house.

I know very little about the beverage industry, but I know people who work there and developing a new product and launching it is not just hard work, but requires millions and millions of investments. Many would say it’s a money pit.

But Morrissey went ahead and even shared his ideas for labels and logos on social media asking friends for their feedback and advice.

Nero Vodka was launched in a rare burst of publicity during the Covid pandemic, in December 2020, at lavish knees in Puerto Banus.

Many Costa Del Sol celebrities attended, including reality TV star Lina Hodgkins and Irish models Cindy Cafolla and Virginia Macari.

Dancers, musicians and fire eaters were all in attendance as he celebrated his new venture and named Nicola as CEO of the company.

While Morrissey was on the list of brand ambassadors for the company, his wife’s role was director and majority shareholder. At the time, I wrote that there was no suggestion Nicola was involved in any criminal activity.

Press releases followed from Nero and the company was at one point set to sponsor a football team in Scotland. Its success was such that the Vodka Company seemed to have money to spend on marketing and promoting the product in the public arena.

But all the while it’s been a ruse – a money laundering arm of the Kinahan Organized Crime Group and the company and Morrissey were named in sanctions announced last April.

The public manner in which Morrissey showed his wealth and launched Nero Vodka was for me a measure of how untouchable the Kinahan organization believed it had become.

Today, Morrissey is behind bars and faces an extremely long prison sentence. His wife gave photographers the middle finger as she was taken into custody in a Spanish court where she was released on bail while the investigation continues.

His arrest is another blow to the Kinahan organization and to Dubai bosses, who remain entrenched in the United Arab Emirates as they watch their business crumble.

No one knows which of the seven gets hauled next, but if I put the money on it, I’d think Sean McGovern will soon be home to face the charge of murdering Noel “Duck Egg” Kirwan.

McGovern is Daniel Kinahan’s most trusted adviser and has been based with him in Dubai since 2018.

For years, the Kinahan organization escaped drug trafficking, money laundering, arms smuggling, and murder while becoming a billionaire. But the clock is ticking now for those at the top of the tree. One down. Six to go.