COACH AT DEATH’S DOOR
Thug Traynor given one year to live after cancer diagnosis
NOTORIOUS criminal John 'the Coach' Traynor is dying of cancer and has been given just a year to live.
The underworld Godfather is expected to fight his extradition to the UK, on the basis that he won't live to serve the remainder of a prison sentence dating back to the 1990s.
The 62 year old, a former henchman of both John Gilligan and Martin Cahill, has also undergone a triple by-pass in recent years but sources say his health is now in freefall.
"He is riddled with cancer. He is going downhill fast and has been told he has just months to live. He will be lucky if he sees out another year," our source said.
Today, the Sunday World reveals for the first time the full story about the Coach's life in exile, including how:
* Traynor forged links with notorious British gangster Noel Cunningham.
* He regularly hosted summits for Irish gangsters in Chinese restaurants in Amsterdam's red-light district.
* Lived an anonymous life in a quiet apartment in one of the city's suburbs.
The Coach was arrested two weeks ago in Amstelveen, outside Amsterdam in Holland, after a joint Dutch and British operation against a 30-man crime ring suspected of smuggling guns and drugs into the UK.
The Sunday World can reveal that Traynor - who fled Ireland after the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin - has been acting a Mr Fix-it for ex-pat British and Irish mobsters in Amsterdam, despite fighting a losing battle with cancer.
He regularly hosted summits for Irish gangsters in Chinese restaurants in Amsterdam's red-light district before his arrest on August 22nd. He has been living in Holland since 1996 when gardai launched a massive investigation into Guerin's murder by Gilligan's mob.
The Coach moved to Amsterdam, leaving his wife and family behind and set himself up as a drug trafficker and underworld fixer.
Before his dramatic arrest just two weeks ago he was living with a young Dutch lover in a three-bed semi-detached house at
Brederode Estate in Amstelveen - just a few kilometres from Schiphol Airport.
One local told the Sunday World: "He was nice and friendly, I never knew he had anything to do with drugs. I'm shocked."
His next-door neighbours, a married couple who didn't want to be named, were shocked to learn Traynor was a gangster.
"We were very surprised when the police came. He seemed very nice. He's only been there a month or so and he called in to say hello and we shook hands.We didn't see anything criminal," the woman told us.
Her husband added: "There was three of them in there, a bald younger man and a woman as well. We were very shocked because we have a young child."
The bald man the neighbour referred to was his old pal from the Gilligan gang, Peter 'Fatso' Mitchell.
Mitchell fled the Costa del Sol following a six-month Sunday World investigation into his drug trafficking operation there.
Sources have revealed Traynor and his cronies - including Fatso - would meet to eat in the city's most expensive Chinese restaurants and plot drug deals on Friday nights.
This week, Mitchell (40) was arrested after Dutch cops raided Traynor's flat. The thug was staying with the Coach after fleeing the Costa Del Crime following an attempted hit.
Mitchell is believed to have hooked up with 'Fat' Freddie Thompson and his sidekick Gary Hutch in recent weeks in Amsterdam.
The pair is trying to stay a step ahead of the European arrest warrants issued for them after the smashing of Christy Kinahan's Costa drug cartel.
The Sunday World believes 'Fatso' fled Amsterdam for the UK after being released by Dutch police.
Sources have revealed the New King restaurant on Zeedijk Street, which is famous for its roast pig, is one of gang's favourite spots.
Despite reports that Traynor was nabbed because he was carrying a false driving licence, the Sunday World can reveal that his arrest is a result of a major investigation by Dutch and UK police which focused on a large gang of ex-pats and on-the-run mobsters in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam police officer Rob Van Deer Veen said: "There are a number of British criminals living in Amstelveen and they're being monitored
"We got information that he [Traynor] might be staying in an address in the area. The Rapid Detective Unit looked into the confidential information and acted on it.
"He [Traynor] was stopped and gave a fake ID. But when he was asked about his date-of-birth he had to take a couple of gos to get it right. This was very suspicious. He was one of a group of 30 men we were looking into, nearly all of them are British citizens."
Last September, the head of the gang - and one of the Coach's chief associates - was dramatically arrested after Dutch cops swooped on the Koffie Gebak bar in Amstelveen.
Londoner Noel Cunningham (47), who was on Scotland Yard's most-wanted list, was on the run in Holland after escaping from a prison van in 2003.
He was due to go on trial for his role in stealing €1.3million from a Securicor van, when two masked men hijacked a prison van that was taking him to court.
The prison van driver was shot in the leg and a guard was pistol-whipped across as Cunningham made his escape along with Clifford Hobbs, described as one of London's 'Premier League' gangsters.
A waiter at the nearby Dixie Restaurant who witnessed the raid in Amstelveen, said the police came out of nowhere armed with guns and surrounded the bar.
"They had the criminal on the ground and surrounded, they were shouting. It is a normal bar but sometimes there were English and Irish guys there who were not good," said Arthur van Dijk.
The Coach has had a long career in organised crime. He was a member of The General Martin Cahill's gang responsible for huge robberies, including the Beit art collection and the O'Connors jewellery heist.
After serving a prison term for fraud, he hooked up with John Gilligan and moved into drug trafficking. The gang used Amsterdam as their base to flood Ireland with cannabis.
But Traynor, a notorious ladies' man, was wearing a number of hats during his time in Gilligan's gang - one of which was acting as Veronica Guerin's chief underworld source.
He is suspected of being the one who told Gilligan of her movements the day she was murdered.
After the murder he fled Ireland but was soon tracked down to Portugal by the Sunday World.
Back in Dublin the Criminal Assets Bureau launched a major investigation into his wealth and secured a judgement against him for IR£440,000 in unpaid taxes and penalties.
A senior source close to that investigation told the Sunday World this week that Traynor's wife Carol was found to have absolutely no assets in relation to her husband's criminal career.
"She was a decent woman and did her best to bring up the four children. They are all reared now and a credit to her. It is a lovely family and has absolutely nothing to do with crime," the source said.
This week Traynor's eldest son Ronnie said that his mother is 'in bits' since his father's dramatic arrest.
"We have nothing to do with any of this," he said.
When asked about his father's illness he said: "We don't want to talk about any of this."