Fugitive Mobster 'Feared Reprisals'

A fugitive Mafia boss wanted by the Italian authorities told officers who arrested him "I'm not going back, they will kill me", a court heard.

Domenico Rancadore, 64, is wanted in Italy to serve a seven-year jail term for his role as ''a man of honour'' in the Cosa Nostra.

He was denied bail for a second time at Westminster Magistrates' Court after being arrested earlier this month at his £360,000 family home in Uxbridge.

Prosecutor Aaron Watkins told the court there were "overwhelming grounds" to suspect Rancadore would have gone on the run if he had been granted bail.

Mr Watkins said it was "telling" that the former teacher, who was living under the assumed name Marc Skinner, had expressed his unwillingness to return to Italy to uniformed police officers.

Rancadore wore a rugby shirt and clutched a white Bible as a female interpreter translated District Judge Quentin Purdy's rejection of his request for bail.

He shook his head and exchanged glances with English wife Anne Skinner, who sat in the public gallery.

The court heard that he had offered Mrs Skinner's home in Uxbridge as a surety for bail, in addition to £10,000.

But District Judge Purdy said: "It seems to me clear that if you are released on bail there is a risk you will disappear.

"Your family has every reason to support you in that course of action.

"I can see no grounds to grant you bail and be satisfied that you will return."

Mr Purdy said Rancadore would appear before the same court via video link on September 20.

Westminster Magistrates' Court was told earlier this month that Rancadore was a leader in a murderous gang that ''spread terror in Sicily''.

But defence barrister Alun Jones QC questioned today whether he had a senior role, saying that "someone in Italy has thought 'We'd better ratchet up the pressure'" to give that impression.

Telling the court that Rancadore suffered from hyptertension, angina and reflux, he said: "In our submission a man in this condition, with family ties to this country, with his wife's house and £10,000, is not going to abscond."

Acknowledging that his client had been living under an assumed name, which he has used to get treatment from the NHS, he said: "His case is that he has used the name of Skinner because he has no trust in the Italian legal authorities."

Mr Jones said that Rancadore was the only defendant who had not been acquitted of Mafia organisation charges that required the involvement of three or more people.

He was convicted of Mafia links in Italy in his absence after he came to live in the UK with his family in 1993, the court has previously heard.

He had been acquitted of previous Mafia charges that year after spending months in custody and more than two years under house arrest.