A ruthless mafia don fled Naples but continued to run his crime empire from a caravan park in Lancashire, a BBC documentary has revealed.
Gennaro Panzuto, 45, has spoken out from behind bars about life in his English hideaway, beating up local enemies in car parks and bribing neighbours with expensive shoes in new documentary Our World: Confessions of a Mafia Killer which first aired last week.
Panzuto was a high-ranking member of the notorious Camorra gang and played a key role in the winter war of 2005, which saw different clans from the syndicate locked in deadly conflict.
After being implicated in the murder of fellow gangster Graziano Borelli, Panzuto needed to flee the country.
Fortunately for him, a Brit businessman he'd met through racketeering offered him a place to stay in the UK.
The businessman headed a gang in the north-west of England that ran various scams, including shipping shoes into Naples tax-free for the Camorra to sell on, undermining the legitimate competition.
After being collected in a Rolls Royce from the airport, Panzuto rented a unit in Six Arches Caravan Park in Scorton. He then began working for his host in exchange for sanctuary, collecting debts and intimidating enemies.
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He told the BBC he was once asked to sort out a debtor, and did so "the Camorra way". He took the foreign businessman out to dinner at a local Italian restaurant in an attempt to coerce him into handing over the cash, but the "cocky" man began acting threatening.
Panzuto took him out to the carpark, head-butted him and threw him to the ground.
"Remember what I've done," he told his victim. "Tell everyone this is how the wind blows now."
In a gruesome signature Camorra move, he then bit off the man's ear. Debtors realised he was no one to be messed with and started paying up.
His English host was impressed and invited him into the shoe-shipping racket, with Panzuto claiming it's much easier to set up fake companies and dodge taxes in England than in Italy.
When neighbour Mick Bury yelled at him for clipping his car, Panzuto smoothed things over by slipping him £200. The two became good friends (despite pals warning him the Italian "might be a mafia man"), and Panzuto gave Mr Bury a pair of Tuscan leather shoes he still wears to this day.
By 2007 he had moved out of the caravan park to a village north of Preston, where he regularly had his wife flown in – and then his girlfriend once she'd left.
That year he was arrested and, facing life in prison for his connection to a string of murders, opted for a plea deal that meant breaking omertà – the mafia code of silence.
His neighbours back at the caravan park were shocked, as most had no idea of the Italian's true backstory.
Panzuto named names and could be released from prison as early as 2021, with a new name and identity to protect him from mob revenge.
From the Italian prison where he's spent the last 12 years, he says he's "ashamed as a dog" for his life of crime and has vowed to leave it all behind him once he's a free man.
He said: "Murdering people doesn't take anything – it just takes great cowardice. That's all."
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