#130: Britain’s Most Ruthless Gangster Stephen Gillen On Life In Prison


My guest this week is known as ‘Belfast’s Slumdog Millionaire’ and is one of Britain’s most notorious gangsters. Having spent 23 years as a career criminal and serving 15 years behind bars as a category ‘A’ prisoner, Stephen Gillen has since transformed his life and is now a successful media entrepreneur, global coach and has dedicated his life to improving the lives of others. Recently nominated for a SUNHAK International Peace Prize in May 2020, Stephen is now involved with the production of an upcoming film that will document his experiences and transformation with the aim to inspire others and prove that anyone can find their purpose, despite any circumstance.

Show Notes

Stephen is introduced onto the show sharing his tumulus background having been raised between England and Belfast, which saw him become involved in organised crime from a young age. [2:18]

Stephen shares childhood experiences growing up in Belfast during the civil war, including witnessing someone die in front of him at the age of 7. [4:53]

Stephen describes his experiences with PTSD, explaining how his past traumas continue to affect him today, yet influence his personal growth. [8:43]

Stephen recalls being placed into a violent foster care facility in the 1980’s which influenced his anger and caused him to rebel, engaging initially in petty crime. [10:09]

Stephen recounts his experiences from his early teens which found him engaging further into more serious crimes. [15:04]

Stephen shares the most serious crimes he was involved with when he relocated to London, which saw him sentenced to 17 years in prison at the age of 24. [20:30]

Stephen draws on first-hand experience to share his opinions of the penal system and prison reform. [26:49]

Stephen gives an insight into his experience of life in prison, including what 24 hours in a high-security prison looks like, what he missed the most, and the emotions he felt before his release. [28:57]

Stephen explains his biggest adjustments and challenges faced after his release from a 12-year prison sentence, falling back into organised crime and being sentenced to another 5 years in prison. [34:11]

Stephen describes the turning points that motivated his journey to change. [37:33]

Stephen explains how his faith and spirituality helped him progress by providing a support system for his personal development. [40:01]

Stephen explains what helped him discover his direction for the future, taking motivation from his experiences in prison to create a better life for himself. [46:37]

Stephen shares what inspired him whilst writing his book. [51:23]

Stephen closes the interview by sharing the message he hopes his forthcoming movie about his life and experiences will deliver. [52:52]


“Making things better is a real purpose for me”. [9:42]

“I went to prison for the first time when I was 14 years of age”. [15:18]

“You have the feeling that 12 years have just disappeared”. [33:56]

“I wasn’t prepared to feel how miserable and emotionally, mentally and spiritually bankrupt as I had felt”.  [38:49]

“One of the main elements to anything, is consistency”. [44:50]

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