MURDERED businessman David Guilfoyle was at the centre of an elaborate racket supplying thousands of pounds' worth of contraband cigarettes before he vanished in May.

Police this week confirmed the missing 37-year-old, who was convicted of smuggling cigarettes and possessing forged banknotes five years ago, was involved in organised crime up until his death.

Detective Inspector Pete Broome, second in command of the murder investigation, said: "He clearly made a significant amount from selling counterfeit clothing, pirated DVDs, cigarettes and forged currency.

"But he wasn't some kind of Don Corleone, not a criminal mastermind. He operated in the middle echelons of tobacco importation."

However, DI Broome countered rumours that Mr Guilfoyle dealt in drugs and that he was killed after moving on to someone's "patch".

But he did confirm details of his colourful life.

He revealed Mr Guilfoyle was two-timing his girlfriend Debbie Fitzpatrick, 39, of Hill Street, Baxenden, with another Hyndburn woman, with whom he was due to go on holiday despite her having a partner.

He said: "He could charm the birds off the trees. He had no shortage of money and no shortage of female admirers. He was described by his closest friends, who are extremely loyal, as living an enviable lifestyle. He had a number of liaisons with women over the years.

"He was a self-made man with 12 rented properties in Hyndburn. He enjoyed his holidays and had travelled extensively to places such as Egypt, Brazil and Australia."

It is now more than six weeks since Mr Guilfoyle vanished from his £230,000 bungalow in Royds Avenue, Accrington.

DI Broome said that despite believing the former England pool player is dead, his daughter Sammy Feeley, 15, was clinging to the hope he will one day come home.

He said: "It is entirely corrosive for his daughter who must be hoping that he will do a Dirty Den and turn up in 10 years. She was given no opportunity to say goodbye. She is his only child but has been robbed of the chance to give him a decent Christian burial."

Police believe Mr Guilfoyle was the victim of a "sustained assault" outside his home on the night of Wednesday 25 May, the last time he was seen alive.

After releasing a suspect last week, a team of nearly 20 detectives are sifting through 1,000 leads and studying a 350- page dossier on Mr Guilfoyle.

DI Broome killed rumours that police are not taking the inquiry seriously because of Mr Guilfoyle's criminal record.

He said: "No effort will be spared in bringing those responsible to justice. I would stress to those who can help us, but are worried about implicating themselves, that we are not looking into people's criminality. Our only concern is finding out what happened to Mr Guilfoyle."

If you can help, call the incident room on 353628 or Crimestoppers, free and in confidence, on 0800 555-111.