Not many people in the world can say they have risked their lives working as an undercover police officer with the Hells Angels and the Mafia.
But Paul Manning, 45, from Accrington, can.
His years of service working as a police officer have taken him all over the world.
Since 2005, he has been living in Canada with his wife and children, where he worked for Hamilton Police Service doing undercover work.
For 18 months, he successfully infiltrated the Mustano family, Papalia family and the Hamilton chapter of Hells Angels – all who are considered to be involved in widespread violent organised crime.
However, Manning alleges that his identity was forsaken when one of his colleagues ‘sold him out’ and that his life has been in danger ever since.
Such an experience has left him fighting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for the past six years, which has led him to consider taking his own life and he says has resulted in him crashing his car driving over 100 mph.
Paul has exclusively spoken to LancsLive about his remarkable story…
Paul, who attended Rhyddings High School, originally worked as a sergeant in the Met Police in 1998 and his wife worked in Sussex.
In 2005, an advert came up for a position in Canada at Hamilton Police Service and he decided to take it and immigrate over there.
A decision which still haunts him to this day.
Paul said: “It was the worst decision in my life. Financially we have done really well.
“But it’s a very corrupt society.
“I was promised to go straight into undercover work with Hells Angels and the Mafia. These people are high end criminals. There were around seven to eight murders in just seven months.”
During the operation, Paul spent time living in the community where his cover was repeatedly tested.
He recalls being the victim of an attempted murder and other plots to ascertain whether he was an undercover police officer.
Paul states that when the attempted murder took place, he knew his cover was blown.
He continued: “I was compromised. A hit went out on me. It’s never been the same since.
“I have been off work with PTSD and stress since 2013. When the attempted murder happened, the very same night I knew I had been sold out.
“People didn’t f*ck around with me. But it was true.
“That night I started having bad dreams.”
“I put a gun in my mouth a few times”
Since then, Paul has been working to reduce the stigma and speak up about mental health and what he went through.
During his work a police officer, he has seen traumatic things over the years.
However it’s only following his work in Canada that the PTSD started, he says.
Paul said: “In 1998, there was a bombing in a gay bar. It was a hate crime on my patch. We lost four people that day.
“There were 75 casualties. There were dead people everywhere. I have been to a number of incidents and it’s never had a detrimental effect on me.
“But after my undercover work, I was a mess. I didn’t know I blocked it out.”
The 45-year-old also recalls being suicidal.
“I put a gun in my mouth a few times,” he continued.
“In 2011, I drove a car into a telegraph pole over 100mph.
“My head went through the windscreen – and I was absolutely fine. That’s when I got help.
“I started seeing a psychiatrist. I am not okay, I am bruised. There are about three or four police officers in the world who did what I did.”
Paul and his wife Sabina have filed a $6.75 million law suit for what he describes as irreversible damage to his mental health in how he was treated by the service while he worked undercover and afterward.
The suit also presents allegations of corruption and shady connections within the force
The lawsuit is currently ongoing, however the City of Hamilton was ordered to pay him $20,000 in damages due to unnecessary delays.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder believed to be caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.
People who have PTSD often relive that experience through nightmares and flashbacks.
They also may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt – says the NHS.
It can lead to problems such as insomnia and they can often find it difficult to concentrate.
The NHS estimates that PTSD affects about one in every three people who have a traumatic experience.
However it’s not clear exactly why some people develop the condition and others do not.
In the UK alone, it is estimated that one in ten people develop PTSD, according to PTSD UK.
There are believed to be one in five firefighters, one in three teenagers who have survived a horrific car crash, 70 per cent of rape victims, two in three Prisoners of War and 40 per cent of people who have experienced a sudden death of a loved one that suffer from the condition.
Road to recovery
However Paul said his road to recovery has been challenging.
He is currently unable to work due to his PTSD.
“I’m on my fifth therapist. I get days where you just can’t talk to me.”
Paul and his therapist came up with a metaphor as him ‘still being trapped in a car’.
“What we came up with six months ago is that I’m still trapped in the car,” Paul added.
“I’m still in that vehicle as I am still in danger.”
Paul is however still on the hit list, but states that no moves against him have yet been taken and everyone ‘knows where they stand’.
He also says his family have been fine so far.
“We do not think we’re going to make any moves,” Paul says.
“We’re all quite fine with it.
“In 2007, 12 years ago, that’s when the hit list went out.
“The bad guys know where I live.
“It’s going to be a fight and everyone has resigned themselves to that fight.
“They appreciate the danger I took on and it’s quite respectful.
“When they drive past every day, as one of them lives just down the road, they wave.
“We all know where we stand.”
The lawsuit is still ongoing, however Paul is looking ahead to the future.
He and his family are considering moving away from the area to Florida or possibly even returning to the UK.
“We still have a business and just sold a 42 acre farm.
“We could possibly move to Florida and set up there for a few years or can come back to the UK.
“It has me very isolated – when you work undercover nobody invited you to parties. It’s that isolation.”
Whichever move he takes, Paul states that he’ll continue to push to reduce the stigma of PTSD and mental health issues by talking about them.
Most people who are thinking of taking their own life have shown warning signs beforehand.
These can include becoming depressed, showing sudden changes in behaviour, talking about wanting to die and feelings of hopelessness.
These feelings do improve and can be treated.
If you are concerned about someone, or need help yourself, please contact the Samaritans on 116 123.