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Locked up this week: A drug-dealing cop, a racist football hooligan, the ‘white van man’ drugs gang… and a drone pilot with a plan

Our round-up of people who have been jailed across Greater Manchester this week includes a couple of drugs gangs, a police officer who revelled in his double life, and a racist football hooligan.

It also includes a case that provoked a lot of comment when we published it earlier this week – the jobless 20-year-old who was jailed for trying to rob a shop with a potato peeler, so he could buy a new dog for his mum.

As ever, our weekly look-back is a fascinating snapshot of the justice system in action across Greater Manchester.

Football hooligan jailed for racist attack on Raheem Sterling

Karl Anderson

A football hooligan has been jailed for a racist attack on England and City star Raheem Sterling.

United supporter Karl Anderson, 29, was already the subject of a five-year banning order following trouble between Reds and Sheffield United fans after an FA Cup game in January 2016.

It meant he could not be in Manchester city centre or Old Trafford on matchdays.

Anderson has 25 convictions for 37 offences – all football related.

He kicked and racially abused Blues winger Sterling as he arrived at City’s Etihad complex before the game against Totteham Hostspur last Saturday.

Raheem Sterling

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard Anderson pulled his van up next to Mr Sterling’s car outside the City training ground and shouted racist insults at him, callling him a ‘n*****’, a ‘black scouse c***’ and a ‘black b******’.

He was also said to have shouted: “I hope your mother and your child wake up dead in the morning.”

Anderson, of Woodward Street, Ancoats, admitted racially aggravated assault and was jailed for 16 weeks.

Sentencing him, chair of the bench Diana Webb-Hobson called the incident an ‘unprovoked attack’ and described the defendant’s previous record as ‘appalling’.

The court was shown CCTV of the incident and prosecutor, Carl Miles, said Anderson verbally abused Mr Sterling using a number of racial slurs before kicking him around four times.

Anderson smiled in the dock as he was taken down to the cells.

He will also have to pay compensation costs of £100 with a victim surcharge of £115.

Mr Sterling suffered bruising to his leg, the court was told.

Strangeways inmates wanted to watch The Sopranos – so Damon, from Crumpsall, came up with a plan

Damon Keegan

A drone pilot who tried to get drugs, mobile phones – and box sets of The Sopranos – smuggled into Strangeways was jailed for three years and four months.

Damon Keegan, 25, from Crumpsall used a £1,000 DJI Phantom model in each of the two failed smuggling bids, back in June, and was linked by fingerprint and communications evidence.

Keegan was part of a tight-knit circle of drone smugglers and made deliveries to prisons across the north west.

Episodes of cult series The Sopranos and Sons of Anarchy were downloaded onto USB sticks and included in a haul of contraband attached to an unmanned aircraft in one smuggling bid.

The drone was also carrying special software which would have allowed the shows to be watched on Playstation 2s, which prisoners are allowed to use at HMP Manchester.

Also in the illicit load were Spice and cannabis resin – packaged so they could be hidden inside the body – along with a dozen sim cards and seven tiny phones capable of beating metal detectors.

Keegan’s drone…

A cache of hi-tech equipment was recovered from his home in August.

Back then police searched a house in Droylsden looking for him after they were informed by a relative his life could be under threat from Liverpool gangsters.

A few days after those items were seized, Keegan was linked to a suspected smuggling bid.

Police chased a stolen high-powered Volkswagen Golf R at junction 1 of the M65 in East Lancashire.

The car was abandoned and the occupants fled – leaving behind sets of number plates in the boot, bolt cutters, and gloves with Keegan’s DNA on, as well as large cellophane wrapped packages containing phones and drugs.

Inside a rucksack on the backseat was a large drone.

Police believe Keegan was in the area to make another drone delivery to one of the local prisons, possibly HMP Garth.

… and his VR goggles

He was finally arrested on November 28th and when interviewed admitted making drone deliveries to prisons across the region.

Keegan was jailed for house burglary in 2015 in Stockport. As he was chased by a neighbour he ran into the path of a car, sustaining serious injuries to his leg which have left him with a permanent limp.

During his time in Strangeways – between October 2015 and March 2017 – it was suspected he was was heavily involved in organising deliveries of contraband into the prison by remote drone.

Keegan pleaded guilty to three offences, one of conspiring to convey list A items into prison (drugs), one of conspiring to convey list B items into prison (mobile phones), and one count of encouraging or assisting in the commission of an offence.

The dirty dozen: Key players in drug supply across Leigh

A dozen heroin and crack cocaine dealers – described as ‘key players’ in the drug supply across Leigh – have been caged.

The 10 men and two women have been locked up for a string of Class A drug offences.

The gang’s activities came to light after a number of their vehicles were stopped by police between January 2017 and March 2017.

Inside, hundreds of pounds of cash was discovered as well as 70 wraps of heroin and crack cocaine.

Police then searched the home of Robyn Anderton, 23, and Darren Charnock, 28, and found more Class A drugs littered throughout the property.

In a separate incident, Hayden Ashcroft, 21, and a boy, 17 – who cannot be named for legal reasons – came out of a home on Richmond Drive in Leigh on March 13.

As police went to arrest the pair, Luke Briggs, 18, and Kieron Siddeley, 19 jumped out of a window on the first floor. They were later arrested.

Officers carried out a search of the house and found more drugs as well as mixing agents and mobile phones.

Further enquiries led police to rest the gang, which included 14 people in total.

Robyn Anderton, 23, of Palace Grove, Leigh, was jailed for five years and seven months for conspiracy to supply crack cocaine, heroin and cannabis.

Darren Charnock, 28, of Palace Grove, Leigh, was sentenced to seven years and two months for conspiracy to supply crack cocaine, heroin and cannabis.

Hayden Ashcroft, 21, of Coronation Drive, Leigh, was sentenced for four years for conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

Luke Briggs, 18, of Hendon Street, Leigh, was locked up for three years for conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

Kieron Siddeley, 19, of Warrington Road, Leigh, has been sentenced to five years and four months for conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

Jamie Crompton, 31, of Ainsworth Lane, Bolton, was jailed for seven years for conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine, as well as robbery and handing a stolen vehicle which were separate matters

Lisa Rigby, 37 of Cunliffe Street, Leigh, has been sentenced to five years for conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

Alex Hall, 31, of Carswell Close, Tyldesley, was jailed for four years for conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

Charlie Boyle, 19, of Carisbrook Road, Leigh, was locked up for five years and seven months for conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin, as well as separate offences of criminal damage, arson, and assault.

Michael Siddeley, 24, of Littleton Close, Warrington, has been sentenced to nine years and four months for conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

Callum Riley, 18, of Kensington Drive, Leigh, has been sentenced to seven years for conspiracy to supply heroin, crack cocaine and cannabis.

Aaron MacFadden, 24, of Chatham Street, Leigh, has been sentenced to five years and eight months for conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

Jealous husband stabbed wife ten times when she refused to take him back

Manchester Crown Court

A jealous husband stabbed his estranged wife ten times when she refused to take him back – injuring her so badly she can no longer pick up a bottle of water or complete simple chores, a court heard.

Albert Beliak, 62, ‘erupted’ and attacked his spouse with a knife at the family home in Oldham when she rejected his pleas to return.

The terrified woman suffered several wounds to her arms, a punctured lung and perforated stomach during the incident in July, this year.

If the brutal assault had lasted ‘a moment or two longer’, she could have died, the judge said.

Beliak, of Ronald Street, Oldham, was originally charged with attempted murder but later pleaded guilty to wounding with intent.

He was jailed for nine years at Manchester Crown Court on Wednesday.

The court heard that Beliak had been ‘jealous and controlling’ since the couple split up last year.

The pair, who have a 15 year age gap, were forced to flee Ukraine in 2015 after receiving threats, and sought asylum in the UK and settled in Oldham.

Their relationship became strained as Beliak found it difficult to learn English and struggled to acclimatise, whereas his wife fared better, it was said.

After separating, Beliak’s wife secured a non-molestation order from the civil courts, stopping from him visiting the house.

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The judge was told how Beliak went to live in a hostel, but found it difficult because he was living with others with criminal backgrounds and he was unable to communicate due to his limited English.

In his desperation, he went to the family home, where he was invited inside by his wife.

They had a chat, and Beliak explained his situation and asked whether he could return to the home, prosecutor Rob Hall said.

After she denied his pleas, Beliak ‘erupted’, the court heard.

Beliak, who the court heard is likely to be deported after serving his sentence, handed himself in to police and was originally charged with attempted murder, but later pleaded guilty to wounding with intent.

Defending, Nicola Gatto said Beliak shows ‘real remorse’, and said that he was fearful of his future.

Sentencing, Judge Martin Rudland said: “This was a bad attack. A moment or two longer and it could have resulted in death.”

A restraining order was also imposed banning Beliak from seeing his wife after his release.

The ‘white van man’ drugs gang – and the CCTV footage that helped bring them to justice

Jamie Hughes

Ten members of a ‘white van man’ gang that trafficked drugs using secret compartments in their vehicles have been brought to justice.

The group’s leader Jamie Hughes ran the nationwide criminal enterprise out of the north west, and even kept a stun gun which he disguised as an iPhone.

CCTV footage from Hughes’ own home – which he had installed for security – ironically gave the National Crime Agency (NCA) key evidence to help bring down his operation.

The crooks were hauled into court following a 15-month investigation by the NCA, which uncovered how its members had been delivering bulk loads of cannabis, cocaine and ketamine to clients in locations from Scotland to London in white vans with hidden compartments.

Hughes, 37, of Olympia Place, Great Sankey, Warrington, was jailed for five years and four months after pleading guilty to his role in the conspiracy.

He claimed to be a car dealer, but was exchanging vehicles as part payment for drugs such as cannabis, amphetamines and ketamine.

As well as his disguised stun gun, he also installed a CCTV system to monitor his driveway – which provided NCA officers with evidence against his criminal network, as it showed various members of the conspiracy exchanging packages or leaving Hughes’ address with parcels.

Hughes and nine others were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday.

Michael Longworth, 38, of Plex Lane, Halsall, Lancashire, supplied members of Hughes’ team with amphetamine sulphate.

He was among those captured on the ringleader’s cameras and was sentenced to six years in prison after going to trial and being found guilty of supplying the drugs.

In addition to cash seizures and damning emails, evidence used against the group included traces of ketamine found in the floor concealment of a white Peugeot Partner van and a hidden compartment in the rear of a white Vauxhall Vivaro van.

David Whalley, 37, of Francis Street in St Helens, was sentenced to three years and four months after a guilty plea to conspiring to convert criminal property. He provided the base for the group’s couriers at his transport yard, which was also a home for the adapted vans he supplied to the group.

NCA officers exposed the group in an investigation that ran from October 2014 to January 2016.

Officers from the Metropolitan, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Merseyside police gave important support.

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Cheshire police stopped Kevin Smith, 29, of Palmerston Road, Garston, Liverpool, on the motorway on the NCA’s behalf and found £135,000 cash in his car.

Smith, who was a courier for the group, received four years and six months in prison for money laundering, conspiring to convert criminal property and possession of cannabis and cocaine with intent to supply.

The Met Police stopped Daljeet Singh Juttla, 42, of Priors Gardens in Ruislip, London, with £90,000 of drugs money that accomplice Richard Hunt had couriered down to the city on Hughes’ behalf.

Juttla received 20 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and 200 hours’ unpaid work for money laundering.

Hunt, 35, of Cuckoo Way, Liverpool, a close associate of Hughes, was an occasional courier and chased drug debts. He received two years and four months for money laundering and conspiring to convert criminal property.

Hughes’ brother-in-law Alistair Welding, 28, of Clock Face Road, Clock Face, St Helens, and associate Matthew Morgan, 41, of Main Street, Frodsham, brokered drug deals for the group and pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.

Welding received five years and four months and Morgan five years and three months in jail respectively.

Alan Oliver, 37, of Lune Way, Widnes, a courier for the gang, received a three-year community order for money laundering, while John Ellis, 60, of Roosevelt Drive, Liverpool, who supplied cash to Juttla, was given a rehabilitation order for money laundering.

‘Pick which room you want to die in and say goodbye to your son’

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A violent and jealous boyfriend convinced his partner he was going to kill her with a knife and told her to say goodbye to her young son, a court heard.

Mark Smith, 28, from Salford , battered and tormented the terrified woman repeatedly over months of domestic abuse after the pair met on Facebook.

During one incident Smith, who was threatening to stab the woman, told her she could ‘pick which room she wanted to die in’, and that she could say ‘goodbye’ to her son.

After one shocking attack – when he kicked and punched her as she cowered on the floor in a ball – he lit a cigarette and laughed: “I just want to hurt you. I just want to beat you up.”

If she told police, he would get ‘his boys’ to kidnap and torture her then shave her head ‘so that no other man would want her’, prosecutors said.

A neighbour called the police and Smith was arrested and charged.

He has now been jailed for two years and eight months by a judge at Manchester Crown Court after pleading guilty to controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship.

During a sentencing hearing on Wednesday, prosecutors told of the violence and threats she suffered at Smith’s hands.

Manchester Crown Court

At one point, in the woman’s own home, Smith held a blade and asked her which room she would prefer to die in, and invited her to say her last words to her two-year-old son.

He threatened to slit her throat and poked her with the handle side of the knife, but the woman feared that she had been stabbed.

Smith, from Eccles , told her he did not know what he was capable of, and said there were ‘voices in his head’ telling him to kill her.

The couple first met on Facebook, and initially their relationship was ‘amicable’, the court heard.

But Smith started to become controlling, searching through her phone and slapping her when he noticed an old message from her former partner.

In the lead-up to the incident when Smith told the woman to say goodbye to her son, which happened in May this year, he demanded that she show him her body.

The woman refused, but Smith started to rip her clothes off and strip her naked, before throwing the clothes out of her tenth-floor Salford flat.

She became locked in the bathroom, and Smith asked whether their four-month relationship was over.

She said yes, but Smith replied: “Well you do know you are having sex before I go, whether you like it or not.”

20-year-old who held up corner shop with a potato peeler to get cash to buy his mum a new dog

Connor McNally

A man who held up a corner shop with a potato peeler so he could get cash to buy his mum a new dog in time for Christmas has been jailed.

Connor McNally burst into the Paradise Mini Market in Rusholme armed with the kitchen utensil in the hope of fleeing with cash to replace his family pet, which had been put to sleep two weeks earlier.

After being given £180 from the till, the jobless 20-year-old from Withington, was stopped outside by passers-by and detained at a nearby butchers until police arrived.

The shop owner was uninjured in the attack, but was left ‘absolutely terrified’, Manchester Crown Court heard.

McNally has now been jailed for three years after admitting robbery.

The court heard he raided the shop in October, after his mother Maxine had been left heartbroken over the death of her dog.

She got the animal as a source of ‘comfort’ after her partner died in a stabbing in 2008, the court was told.

The court heard he raided the shop in October, after his mother Maxine had been left heartbroken over the death of her dog Kenny, pictured

McNally said he tried to get a job to buy his mum a new pet in the run-up to the festive season, but resorted to carrying out the robbery.

His lawyer Toby Wilbraham said in mitigation: “Mr McNally’s actions were completely unjustified, but the background to this case is quite tragic.

“Prior to this offence he lived at home with his mother who has a long standing history of depression because of the murder of her husband.

“She witnessed the lead up to this attack which was very disturbing for him and his mother.

Thug jailed for brutal attack moans ‘they give nonces less’

David Knight

David Knight

A thug who was jailed for eight years after he brutally attacked two people told the sentencing judge: “They give nonces less.”

David Knight’s outburst came as he was locked up for knocking out a man and woman, then stamping on the male victim’s face as he lay ‘completely helpless’.

Knight, 35, from Mossley in Tameside, battered the couple in Hull in June, the court heard.

The man he attacked suffered bilateral jaw fractures and also had metal supports surgically inserted into his face.

His partner also suffered ‘nasty’ soft tissue damage to her head and face, and was so traumatised she still needs counselling.

Knight claimed he was acting in self-defence, but a jury found him guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and assault occasioning actual bodily harm after a trial at Hull Crown Court.

Knight, who has a long history of violent offending, mumbled and appeared agitated throughout his sentencing hearing, according to the M.E.N’s sister title The Hull Daily Mail .

When Judge David Tremberg jailed him for eight years for the two assaults, Knight protested ‘they give nonces less’ as he was handcuffed and led down to the cells.

His convictions for the assaults, which took place on June 14 last year, put him in breach of a suspended sentence for arson, and Knight was also sentenced for a bail offence after he derailed the trial by failing to attend court.

Two police forces were involved in executing the resulting warrant, and he was arrested at a hostel in Manchester at 5.30am.

The victims had just returned from a night out and were talking to a neighbour in Broadstone Close, Bransholme, Hull, when they became aware of Knight causing a disturbance, and were told by the neighbour he had been shouting for some time, prosecutor Austin Newman said.

The man, who admitted being intoxicated, left a garden and crossed the street to remonstrate with Knight, followed by his partner. Knight initially made off, but returned with his shirt off ‘shouting the odds and spoiling for a fight’, the court heard.

The police officer who led a drugs gang and posed in a Breaking Bad t-shirt

Daniel Aimson

A serving police officer who ‘revelled’ in his double life as the head of a drugs gang posed with a Breaking Bad Walter White t-shirt at his secret cannabis farms, was jailed for six years and four months.

PC Daniel Aimson, 36, was at the head of a conspiracy which flooded the streets of Manchester and North Wales with the class B drug.

He also stole the identity of an unsuspecting member of the public, taking the man’s driving licence after stopping the motorist and using it to lease one of the premises used as a cannabis farm.

To the wider public, the two drug factories, based at commercial premises in Railway Road, Leigh, were a newsagents and a lettings firm.

But when police raided the buildings, they found sophisticated cannabis farms with 165 plants across the two sites, potentially worth more than £84,000, it was said.

Aimson was sacked by Greater Manchester Police in February after admitting his part in the conspiracy.

He and his ‘right hand man’ Hussein Mozahem, 25, who Aimson had met at the gym, had plans to expand the business and had conducted cannabis grows there previously, a Manchester Crown Court sentencing hearing was told on Monday.

After receiving intelligence, officers launched a surveillance operation, monitoring comings and goings on Railway Road in the weeks before their raid.

It was during their investigation that Aimson was seen wearing the t-shirt referencing the hit show.

Prosecutor Owen Edwards said: “He (Aimson) was seen at various stages on his own CCTV hard drive to wear a t-shirt depicting the lead character Walt in the hit TV series called Breaking Bad.

“The character plays a respectable chemistry teacher who adopts a professional approach to the production and distribution of the drug crystal meth, and becomes in the process a highly successful drug dealer.

“In his various text messages it is clear that Aimson revelled in his double life as officer and criminal.”

Caught with weapons, a bottle of ammonia, and meatballs laced with drugs

Daniel Mcauley (L) and Jason Milton Gregson

Daniel Mcauley (L) and Jason Milton Gregson

Two men who were stopped in a dramatic police swoop as they went to raid a hydroponics shop have been jailed.

Daniel Mcauley, 35, and Jason Milton Gregson, 45, had the tyres of their car shot out on Liverpool Road, in Cadishead.

When the vehicle was searched police found three knives, a bottle of ammonia, balaclavas and handcuffs.

At an earlier trial Mcauley was found guilty of possession of a weapon and a knife, while Gregson was found guilty of the possession of two knives.

A jury failed to reach an unanimous verdict on a charge of conspiracy to rob, but both defendants admitted a new charge of conspiracy to steal.

The police swoop on the car on Liverpool Road

Mcauley, described by a judge at Manchester Crown Court as the “prime mover”, was jailed for a total of 56 months. Gregson was handed 51 months in prison.

The court heard the men had been travelling in a hired Vauxhall Corsa on October 14, 2016, when they were stopped by armed police who fired a round into one of the tyres.

Detailing the evidence, Judge Michael Leeming said: “In the car were holdalls containing balaclavas and a bag in which was found a rubberised mask, gloves, dust masks and handcuffs.

“Weapons were found in the footwells and rear of the vehicle.

“Police feared you were in the process of committing a robbery at a hydroponics shop nearby.

“You were seen in the vicinity the day before. When the vehicle was stopped and searched meatballs laced with prescription drugs were found.”

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http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/locked-up-week-drug-dealing-14078741

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