Sicarius McGrath decided to change after it hit home how weapons he put on the streets may have been used in violent crimes
A violent Preston pimp and serious organised criminal who once “presented a monumental risk to the public” is on a mission to do good following his release from prison.
Sicarius McGrath ran a protection racket trading on fear and intimidation and was jailed for eight and a half years in 2016. Once called Anthony Harrington, he changed his name to Sicarius, meaning Assassin, amid his convictions for intimidation and violence.
The 41-year-old set up a security firm in Preston claiming to “wage war on criminals” with counterparts in Russia and Ireland. In a second business, Platino Escorts, the ex-gang boss controlled prostitutes from a £325,000 house in Preston’s upmarket conservation zone and later continued to operate Sicarius Protection Ltd from premises in Leyland.
Pictures taken at the time from inside the house in leafy Victoria Road, Fulwood, showed balaclava-clad McGrath surrounded by piles of cash in £1,000 bundles. In one image his dirty money is being kept next to his pet snake.
McGrath was involved in gang violence from a young age, from the mid-1990s until 2016, and was sent to prison multiple times including for intimidation, violence and in 2003 was also jailed for his role in setting up an illegal gun factory. He was released from prison in the summer of 2020 and has left his life of crime behind, the M.E.N reports.
It was as he sat in his cell for these crimes in 2017 that his criminal lifestyle hit home. He said: “I was sat in my cell and a programme covering the murder of 11-year-old Rhys Jones was televised, Little Boy Blue.
“It brought me to tears. I felt partly responsible as I’d put hundreds of weapons on the streets. I straight away wrote to the charity his parents had set-up.
“I had a passion from that point to change myself as a person and use my expertise to help others and reduce the amount of children becoming involved in knife crime, firearms, county lines, youth violence and anti social behaviour.” Since his release from prison, Sicarius, who now lives in Middleton, has worked with charities across the UK and has been in contact with multiple agencies to set-up his own group, OCG Solutions.
This has included attending youth groups to see how they operate, and to test his own methods of how to keep children out of violence. Sicarius is very candid about his previous life in our chat, openly discussing being groomed by Al-Qaeda in prison, and how he would use the same methods they used on him to recruit kids across the north west into his gangs.
“I was good at it, recruiting kids into gangs, it was a proper skill to me,” he says. “We ran proper businesses, it was very sophisticated.
“We used to flood the streets with guns and drugs, I was really good at it. I remember the first time I shot someone in the leg in Liverpool I s*** myself, no one really wants to kill anyone else, but it happens when you’re that deep in that world.
“And now kids are carrying knives, they’re scared of others doing so, so do so [carry knives] themselves. But they’re not going out to kill each other, it’s the last thing they want to do, but when kids are cocky it can happen.”
Sicarius is determined to use what he believes is his unorthodox methods of getting kids away from crime. He says it’s very different to how psychologists traditionally would try to help kids but is confident it will prove a success, and says people he has spoken to in the police are interested to see if it works.
“I want to use the same methods I used to get kids into gangs to keep them out. You’ve got to be real with them and talk their language, if you try and be all clever with them they’ll not listen and just think you’re a d***h***. Kind of manipulate them into keeping out of violence instead of getting into it.
“I’ve gone to youth clubs where there’s been some really violent kids and I’ve become a monster again to scare it out of them. It’s made me realise I can still be like that monster I was but use it to scare kids out of violence. I’ve gone and they don’t want anything to do with me but by the end I’ve got them on my side.
“It’s about relating to them. If they see a horrible b****** like me and I tell them what I’ve been through, it means a lot more than talking to a normal youth worker. But I can tell them you can either spend your life living in a cell or change and do some good.
“I’m hoping to get some videos with horrible criminals from prison talking about their experiences. They won’t necessarily say ‘keep out of gangs’, but it’ll show that that’s where you end up if you carry on the way you are, with violence and in gangs.
“I want kids to talk to the parents of victims of gang violence to see this is the result. You either end up in a cell or in the ground, you have to almost scare it out of them.”
Sicarius is currently fundraising for vans in order to take groups out for activity days and to build relationships with them. He aims to work with parents to show progress of how kids taking part change over the time with him. Education is also key to his ideas, and he is proud to show me a bleed kit he has got from a partner charity that he wants to teach the kids how to use.
It is early days for Sicarius’s ideas, and there is still a lot to be figured out before group sessions get underway. “I’m putting everything into this, I just know it’ll work, and there’s plenty of high up people interested to see if it does, because it’s so much different to anything tried before,” he adds. “Too many young people have lost their lives to violence, and it’s got much worse recently, something different needs to be done to stop it, and I’m I can do that.”
- 10:49, 13 JUN 2022