A former drug gang lord who stabbed a schoolmate when he was just nine and was pedalling drugs just three years later has turned his back on crime – thanks to God.
Reformed badboy Chris Mills, 34, grew up thinking the police were the enemy and was expelled from school aged nine for stabbing a classmate with a pencil.
He was soon groomed by a notorious Bristol gang which paid him £500 a month to transport money and crack cocaine by train.
Aged 14 he was jailed for two years for armed robbery, but instead of getting his life back on track when he was released, he joined an international gang importing nearly pure cocaine from Jamaica.
He could earn £80,000 for just a couple of days work shifting the drugs, and was so obsessed with money he would even get his girlfriend to iron his wads of £50 notes.
But after a turf war killed two of his pals and forced him to wear a bulletproof vest, the dad-of-two turned to religion.
He went to Bible College and now goes back into prison and mentors young offenders, trying to lead them away from a life of crime by helping them get work.
Inspirational Chris said: “I asked God for help and at that time I felt he had helped me and saved my life.
“Later I had a son and it really opened my eyes to how precious life is and I decided I needed to change my life.
“What scared me most was the idea of my son growing up and becoming me.
“I had seen how quickly my life had spiralled into drugs and violence.
“If I didn’t get out he would be automatically dragged in.
“Now only that, I decided that I wanted to help other people from being what I was.
“I made a promise to God then that I would live my life for Him.”
Chris grew up in the once-notorious Grosvenor Road in St Paul’s, Bristol, and became a target for older gang members who groomed him with money on the way to school.
“They groomed us young,” Chris said.
“It made me very popular with my peer group, because I could always provide the latest trainers or whatever it was we bought in those days.
“At the same time I was doing robberies.
“I’m not proud of this. I received my first jail term at 14 for armed robbery and false imprisonment – a two year sentence.
“By the time I was 16, crack cocaine had come onto the streets of Bristol. It was the new drug and I sold that for many years.”
When he was 20, he was part of a 70-strong gang with foot soldiers in Bristol and members in Jamaica, who helped import practically pure cocaine.
He added: “We were making a lot of money.
“For example I could come home after a couple of days away with £80,000 to be invested in other things. I was used to significant amounts of illegal money.
“On one occasion a Bentley picked me up from a jail term.”
But his wake up call came in 2005 when an influx of Jamaican ‘Yardies’ arrived in Bristol and wanted to take over the drug trade.
A huge drug turf war began, forcing Chris to move.
“People were being attacked randomly during the day and night,” he added.
“It was getting out of control. I was having to look over my shoulder all the time.”
Incredibly Chris made peace with all his enemies and although many were dubious, they respected his decision to get out of the game.
A setback saw Chris knock a police officer unconscious in the aftermath of a court case, but the 15-month prison sentence which followed gave him time to get his life back on track.
He became a prison mentor, teaching people to read and helping to moderate disputes.
“I made a promise to God then that I would live my life for him.
“I had a major falling out with someone which would normally have resulted in violence, but I prayed to God and this person rang me and said he didn’t want any trouble and called a truce.
“I was convinced it was God’s work.
“Then my son was diagnosed with bowel cancer and I prayed to God and said it he was real, please heal my son.
“I had never been in a church. I saw them as places for people who needed a crutch.
“I took him to the church and amazingly it cleared up – the doctors said he no longer needed the operations.”
On his release in 2012 he turned his back on his old lifestyle, went to Bible College and worked in a fast food restaurant.
He volunteered with the National Black Boys Can Association, which provides youngsters with educational and life skills.
Now he works with charity Emmaus Bristol to run the Bristol Life Centre, an organisation that helps young ex-criminals into employment.
“When I speak to kids now I see myself, I see that arrogance and it drives me to want to change them,” he said.