Monday, 28 November 2011

New ecstasy fears after two dead and one seriously ill following club weekend


The clubbers, aged 20 and 21, died within hours of each other at the same hospital after attending separate dance music events at Alexandra Palace in north London over the weekend. Another 20-year-old man, also thought to have attended an event at the venue, is also being treated at the same hospital where he is said to be in a serious but stable condition. Last night Scotland Yard issued a special appeal to any young people who may have taken drugs at or before either of the events to seek immediate medical attention amid fears dealers may have been peddling an ultra-strong batch. It comes just a week after the charity Drugscope, which monitors trends in underground the drug trade, warned of an alarming rise in the popularity of ecstasy which dominated the 1990s rave scene but fell out of fashion. A surge in use follows an influx of a more-potent Chinese variants of the drug which is based on the chemical MDMA, or methylenedioxymethamphetamine.

Ecstasy alert after club deaths


wo young clubbers suspected of taking ecstasy died after separate dance music events at London's Alexandra Palace, police said. The men, aged 20 and 21, were admitted to a north London hospital on Sunday and were pronounced dead within seven hours of each other. The 21-year-old is thought to have attended an all-night party called Bass Culture, which started on Friday and continued into Saturday. The 20-year-old is believed to have attended a night called Epic, starting on Saturday night and running into Sunday. A second 20-year-old man who was also believed to have attended the event on Saturday night was admitted to hospital as well and remains in a serious but stable condition. The Metropolitan Police said the cause of the deaths and injury was yet to be established but confirmed that one line of inquiry was that the men may have taken illegal substances, possibly MDMA - the chemical name for ecstasy. They issued an urgent appeal for other clubbers to seek medical attention following the unexplained deaths. Detective Inspector Rita Tierney said: "Although it is too early to say what caused these men's health to deteriorate, we are investigating the possibility that illegal drugs may have been involved. "If you have taken what you believed to be MDMA, or any other substance, during this weekend's events at Alexandra Palace, and are now feeling unwell, I would strongly urge you to attend your nearest hospital as soon as possible."

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Michael Barrymore charged with cocaine possession

Michael Barrymore, the entertainer, has been charged with possession of cocaine and being drunk and disorderly.
Michael Barrymore was arrested following a car crash 

The 59 year-old, real name Michael Parker, was arrested following a car crash in Acton, West London, in the early hours on Tuesday.

He has been bailed to appear before Magistrates in Ealing on Wednesday, December 7.

A second man arrested after the Citroen DS3 hit a kerb has been bailed pending further inquiries.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Operation Teddington, the major police investigation which snared Yorkshire fraudster John Elam

Operation Teddington, the major police investigation which snared Yorkshire fraudster John Elam, began in 2005 with talks over the proposed sale of one of Leeds’s best-known restaurants.

Elam had been of interest to police for several years as members of his family had been in trouble with the law and intelligence suggested that he knew Dennis Slade, the Leeds crime baron who would be jailed for life in 2010 for conspiring to murder a rival.

But although he had a criminal record dating from 1978, the property developer’s convictions were mainly for minor acts of violence and dishonesty.

“He was fairly high on our radar of organised crime groups that we weren’t having much success with,” a police source said.

“He had a few convictions for assault, and bits and pieces, but nothing that showed what he really was and what he had been involved in.

“We monitored various intelligence sources over a period of years, looking for areas of vulnerability.”

Detectives found such an opportunity in May 2005, when police were informed that Elam owned the high-profile Medina restaurant in Britannia Street, Leeds, and was seeking a buyer.

An undercover officer, pretending to be a businessman interested in buying it, held meetings with its representatives over the summer, eventually being invited to an apartment in York Place, in the heart of Leeds’s legal quarter.

This was Elam’s apartment, and the office where he handled his business affairs. It was soon bugged, enabling detectives to listen in as their suspect ran his criminal network.

“We hadn’t known about that apartment,” the source said. “We didn’t know where Elam was operating from until we received that call.

“Once we ha identified the address, we commenced some intensive surveillance inside the premises. It was clear there were a number of professional people from Yorkshire in his circle – a solicitor, a financial adviser and an accountant – so we decided to extend the investigation.”

With the help of these professionals – solicitor Philip Brown, former bank manager Mark Nelson and self-employed accountant Stephen Farman – Elam was able to hide the true ownership of the Medina as it ran up debts, meaning creditors met a barrier when trying to recover money.

The restaurant was run by a succession of companies. If one ran up debts, it would be dissolved and the venue taken over by a new firm, still under Elam’s influence. Elam’s chain of car washes in Leeds and Bradford were run in the same way. Support came from other conspirators including Russell Spence, a former Formula 3000 racing driver and construction company boss who lived at Kildwick Hall, near Skipton – a mansion once valued at £3.5m.

By September 2006, detectives had gathered enough information to strike. More than 200 police officers, plus bodies including HM Revenue and Customs, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the Law Society, were assembled to make arrests and raid offices and homes across Yorkshire.

In addition to the Medina and car wash frauds, Elam faced further charges of assault and perverting the course of justice.

Detectives believe Elam had interests in Spain, enjoyed access to duty-free trading in Dubai and relaxed at a five-star beach and spa resort in Thailand but they say these perks only came his way thanks to the input of seemingly reputable professionals.

“Elam was a good businessman, a property developer with a knack for buying the right things at the right price,” the source said.

“But he also had the gift of the gab, which he used to entice professionals into his web of corruption.

“It all built up to a point where the professionals couldn’t get out of it if they wanted to.”

Champagne lifestyle

The lavish lifestyle enjoyed by John Elam was clear to see when police raided one of his homes – a stylish top-floor penthouse apartment.

Officers found bottles of expensive wine in a stunningly furnished kitchen when they entered the property in Harrogate’s fashionable Montpellier Quarter, renowned for its designer boutiques, antique shops and specialist retailers.

Elam’s former homes are believed to include a house in the Scarcroft area of Leeds and a six-bedroom detached property in the exclusive village of Sicklinghall, near Wetherby.

Other places understood to have been used by the criminal include a flat in Hans Road, near Harrods in the Knightsbridge area of London.

SHOT at close range by a single bullet – Alan Rosser’s cold-blooded murder was one which sent shockwaves through the community.

Even the police at the time admitted this type of gangland-style slaying was virtually unknown in Lancashire.

Mr Rosser, 34, was outside his Imperial Engineering car repair workshop on Back Eaves Street, North Shore, when he was shot in the head at close range by a single bullet from a .45 revolver on November 12, 1999.

He had been abducted, beaten with an iron bar, bundled into a van and robbed earlier the same year – prompting murder squad detectives to investigate the possibility he had become involved in a gangland feud.

Graham Gooch, who was the detective superintendent leading the investigation at the time, said: “We know Mr Rosser had a lot of convictions for motoring offences and one for possession of drugs so there is a possibility of a drugs-related motive. He may have been involved in drug dealing but at a low level.

“This is the great danger once drugs come into it because gunmen inevitably follow.”

Mr Rosser, of Lindsay Avenue, was a keen club goer, described by his family as “a decent bloke with a lot of friends”.

His body was found near his workshop door by a worker from nearby premises who heard people arguing and then a shot.

He was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital and later transferred to a neurological ward at the Royal Preston Hospital but died in the early hours the following morning.

At the height of the investigation, more than 75 officers were investigating Mr Rosser’s death.

Murder squad detectives interviewed more than 100 people while carrying out inquiries within the first week.

A week later scores of officers took to the streets to hand out leaflets featuring a picture of Mr Rosser and questioned more than 1,000 people.

An artist’s impression was released of a man seen at about the time of the murder running from Egerton Road, into Carshalton Road towards Sherbourne Road.

Witnesses said the man looked frightened and appeared to be carrying or holding something with his right arm beneath his jacket as he ran.

Police at the time believed someone in the drug underworld held the key to unlock the inquiry and extended their investigation to Wolverhampton, Manchester and Sheffield.

It seemed detectives were close to cracking the case when two men, from Manchester, were charged with the businessman’s murder. But the charges against them were dismissed in 2001 when the judge agreed with defence claims the case should be discharged.

Police today said they are still focused on bringing Mr Rosser’s murderer to justice.

Det Insp Brian King, of the force major investigation team, said: “No job is left – that’s the bottom line. What we don’t do is say a case is undetected and then leave it. We constantly go back to look for new lines of inquiry.”

GANG behind a £3.5bn drug cutting ring has been jailed for a total of 44 years after being convicted

GANG behind a £3.5bn drug cutting ring has been jailed for a total of 44 years after being convicted by a Yorkshire jury.

Ringleader Jamie Dale set up a massive industrial scale operation supplying dealers across the country with cutting agents to bulk out their illegal drug supplies.

Between September 2005 and July 2008 he imported and supplied almost 36 tons of chemicals such as lidocaine and benzocaine, legally used in medications but also regularly used in the drug trade to cut drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

He lived a lavish lifestyle on the profits buying an expensive engagement ring for his wife, holidays abroad and a £15,000 watch.

Jailing Dale for 18 years at Leeds Crown Court yesterday, Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said he hoped it would act as a deterrent to those considering obtaining chemicals for the drug trade.

Dale, 32 of Claymere Avenue, Barford, Rochdale; John Cawley, 31, of Edgebaston Crescent, Birmingham; and Barry Hartley, 63, of Arkwright Street, Burnley; were all found guilty by a jury on Tuesday of conspiring to supply heroin, cocaine and amphetamine. Cawley was jailed for 15 years and Hartley for 11 years.

Four of the jurors returned to hear the sentencing. Judge Marson described the case as unique because of its scale and geographical spread.

The gang had not supplied the drugs themselves but had “been found to be a party to an agreement to supply criminals, knowing and intending these chemicals would be used to cut controlled drugs to be supplied to others.”

The judge told the trio: “Dealing in Class A drugs in particular is a wicked trade. Those involved in it, particularly at top end of the chain make vast sums of money at the expense of the user who becomes addicted and whose life is adversely affected. It is done for no other reason than pure greed.”

“Day in and day out the court has to deal with addicts who rob, burgle and steal in order to feed their habits. Each of you played a significant part in enabling hardened and determined drug dealers, some of whom are at the top or close to the top of the chain, to dilute their drugs so they could maximise their profits at the expense of those addicts. Each of you became involved with no thought at all for those lives that would be damaged.”

Chemicals they supplied were found in drug seizures throughout England and Scotland. “I am satisfied none of these chemicals were ever supplied to legitimate sources.”

The organisation was headed by Dale who had access to large sums of cash and used false identities to order the chemicals and rent different storage facilities, with frequently changing mobile phones.

The judge said Cawley, in spite of intellectual difficulties, was street wise, manipulative and cunning, acting as a willing representative for Dale, while Hartley, a convicted drug dealer, had used his contacts in the drug trade.

He commended Serious Organised Crime Agency officers and others involved in the investigation known as Operation Junko

After the convictions Alun Milford, Head of Organised Crime Division at the CPS said it was the first time such charges had been applied to activities involving such large amounts of cutting agents which if mixed at a ratio of one to one with class A drugs would have increased the “volume and the street value up to a staggering estimated value of £3.5bn.”

Police will try to seize the proceeds of the trio’s crimes at future hearings.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

James Murdoch has stepped down from the boards of the immediate parent companies of the Sun and the Times

James Murdoch has stepped down from the boards of the immediate parent companies of the Sun and the Times, one of which is the business named as a defendant in all the phone-hacking civil lawsuits brought against the News of the World.

It emerged on Wednesday that the 38-year-old resigned in September as director of News Group Newspapers – owners of the Sun and the now defunct News of the World, and Times Newspapers Ltd, home to the Times and Sunday Times – as he relocates from London to New York.

News Group Newspapers is the company subject of a string of lawsuits for alleged breaches of privacy stemming from phone hacking, and it is the business unit that anybody wanting to sue either the Sun or News of the World would have to cite as a defendant in a legal case.

News Corporation, the ultimate parent company, said James Murdoch's departure from the boards was essentially a tidying up exercise. It added that the son of Rupert Murdoch remains as executive chairman of News International, which is the operation that runs the company's three British newspapers.

Insiders said that "nobody should read too much into the changes". They noted that James Murdoch remains on the board of a holding company NI Group Ltd and the Times editorial board whose function it is to approve the appointment of new editors of that newspaper.

James Murdoch took over as executive chairman of News International in late 2007, and has been called to give evidence to parliament twice to explain why the company did not find out that phone hacking at the News of the World was more widespread in the period running up to the arrest of Glenn Mulcaire in 2006. Mulcaire carried out hacking on behalf of the newspaper.

GANG convicted yesterday of a £3.5BILLION drugs conspiracy is facing years behind bars.

The crooks were involved in the biggest-ever racket to smuggle chemicals into Britain to mix with cocaine and heroin.

This would have more than doubled dealers' profits by generating drug supplies worth more than £3.5billion, experts said.

The group shipped in almost 36 tonnes of cutting agents from China and India in just three years.

The mixers, including dental painkiller benzocaine and paracetamol, were seized as far apart as Edinburgh and Bournemouth, Dorset.

John Wright, senior investigator from the Serious Organised Crime Agency, said last night: "The trade in cutting agents is a major enabler of criminal activity, generating huge profits for drug dealers and making Class A drugs cheaper and more available."

The gang's mastermind Jamie Dale, 32, owned a £200,000 house in Rochdale, Lancs, despite only once declaring a £15,000 income.

Dale was arrested wearing just his underpants as he dashed across a landing in his home clutching a carrier bag filled with £20,000.

Convicted ... John Cawley, left, and Barry Hartley

A further £30,000 was retrieved from his safe.

Dale also had an £18,000 designer Frank Muller watch to which he had added £10,000 worth of diamonds.

Henchman John Cawley, 31, of Fleetwood, also owned a £200,000 house.

He claimed to be making £52,000 a year as a car valet.

Cawley, who regularly channelled large sums into his bank account, acted as a "front" for the shipments.

Third crook Barry Hartley, 63, from Burnley, was an established drug dealer and acted as a middleman for dealers eager to get the cutting agents.

The trio, who denied conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, were found guilty at Leeds Crown Court.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Leveson inquiry: Gerry and Kate McCann testify at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Gerry and Kate McCann testify at the Leveson inquiry at the Royal Courts of Justice
 Photograph: BBC
Kate and Gerry McCann made an impassioned plea for press regulation after delivering an emotional account of their treatment by the tabloids, describing the string of "disgusting" and "offensive" stories published about them.
Appearing as witnesses at the Leveson inquiry into press standards, the McCanns gave the most powerful testimony heard so far, speaking for nearly two hours without a break as they described the ordeal they have been subjected to by parts of the media since their daughter Madeleine went missing in Portugal four years ago.
Kate McCann told a hushed courtroom at the Royal Courts of Justice in London how she felt "totally violated" after the publication by the News of the World of her personal diaries in which she recorded her thoughts about her missing daughter.
She said the now defunct newspaper had showed "absolutely no respect for me as a grieving mother" when it ran the story in September 2008 under the headline Kate's Diary: In Her Own Words. "I'd written these words, my thoughts, at the most desperate time of my life," she said.
Mrs McCann added that she had talked about "climbing into a hole and not coming out" after the article appeared. "It made me feel very vulnerable and small. That whole week was very traumatic and every time I thought about it I couldn't believe the injustice."
Her husband, Gerry, said the couple wanted an investigation into how the diary, which was seized and copied by Portugese police, was leaked to the Murdoch tabloid. Lord Justice Leveson, who has legal powers to summon witnesses and compel evidence, indicated that he might heed their call.
Mr McCann said British newspapers had declared "open season" on them a few months after Madeleine's disappearance in the Portugese resort of Praia da Luz in May 2007. It was "crass and insensitive", he argued, to say that because they engaged with the media in an attempt to find their daughter "the press can write whatever they like about you without punishment. There are standards but there are no penalties for not sticking to them. I see front page headlines every day ... and I think information is being written and lives are being harmed by these stories and something has to change. The commercial imperative is not acceptable."
The McCanns' evidence is likely to strengthen the argument for a stricter regime of press regulation. Leveson, who was appointed by David Cameron at the height of the phone-hacking crisis, is due to report within a year.
The McCanns painted a disturbing picture of life at the centre of a media scrum. Gerry McCann said: "We expected the storm to calm with the passage of time but it continued day after day. We had anecdotal evidence from the British journalists in in Praia da Luz that the story of Madeleine's disappearance had caught the imagination of the British public and was driving sales in the UK. As a result those journalists were under intense pressure from their newsdesks to file more copy."
Photographers camped outside the house, Kate McCann said, frightening their two young children. "There were several occasions where they would bang on the windows. Amelie said to me several times: 'Mummy, I'm scared.' "
Her husband accused a former editor of the News of the World, Colin Myler, of "berating" them for conducting a 2008 interview with Hello! magazine on the first anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance.
The couple sued Express Newspapers and secured unprecedented front-page apologies in 2008 after two of the group's titles ran stories which included the allegation that they had sold their daughter to pay off debts. Describing that as "nothing short of disgusting", Mr McCann said he was amazed that no one at Express Newspapers, which also paid the couple record damages of £550,000, had lost their job.
"I've seen no journalist or editor brought to account, be it the Express or any other group ... they are repeat offenders, they should lose their privilege of practising," he said.
The McCanns argued that newspapers should not be allowed to take pictures of subjects when they are in public places. They also spoke movingly about their reaction to a front-page Daily Mirror story about Madeleine that declared: "She's dead". It was based on an article in a Portugese paper, which quoted a source close to the police investigation who said they didn't know if she was alive or dead. Gerry McCann said they learned about the story at 11pm when they were just about to go to bed. "That was one of the most distressing headlines that was just taken from supposition. It was incredible."
Talking about her diary, Kate McCann said she believed that it was taken from her by Portuguese police and later returned. However, she said that someone must have photocopied the private diary and given it to the press.
She said there were minor differences between her own diaries and those that were published by the NoW, leading her to believe that they had been translated from Portuguese and back again.
The paper apologised a week after publishing the diaries and said: "We published the extracts in the belief held in good faith that we had Kate's permission to do so."
Leveson indicated that he might call the journalist who wrote the story to give evidence and might also question other senior executives at the paper, which was closed by Rupert Murdoch in July, about how the diaries were obtained.
Earlier in the day Sheryl Gascoigne, the former wife of Paul Gascoigne, told the inquiry that she had been hounded by press photographers while heavily pregnant. She said she was forced to crawl on her hand and knees while her arm was in a sling to escape the paparazzi.
Gascoigne told Leveson that everyone in the public eye knew that the Press Complaints Commission was "a waste of time". She said corrections should be given the same prominence in newspapers as the articles in which they orginally appeared.
Mark Lewis, the solicitor whose clients include the footballers' union chief Gordon Taylor, Milly Dowler's parents and the ex-Premier League footballer Garry Flitcroft, also gave evidence to the inquiry.
He said he had been warned in a telephone call that Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail, would sue him if he continued to claim that the paper had been involved in phone hacking.
Lewis said that threat was made in a phone conversation with a Daily Mail lawyer, Liz Hartley, on 25 January 2011. "Be aware that Paul Dacre is someone who will sue you if you suggest that we were involved in hacking," Hartley allegedly told him.
He also claimed that he had heard from a journalist that Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of News International, had threatened to "get him back" for demanding her resignation and that she would exact her revenge in another newspaper.:Text may be subject to copyright.This blog does not claim copyright to any such text. Copyright remains with the original copyright holder.

The Whitney family raked in hundreds of thousands of pounds from a ‘drugs cash-and-carry business’ supplying desperate addicts round-the-clock for two years.

Liverpool gangThe Liverpool gang (from l-r) Top: Carol Whitney, 54; Paul Whitney, 32; Matthew Nayor, 37; Leslie Whitney, 57; Gary Edwards, 48; Thomas Dowd, 29. Bottom: Michael Waters, 25; Michael O'Toole, 33; Lisa Whitney, 31; Mary McCabe, 53; Wayne Hincks, 28; Neil Brady, 35 (Picture: Merseyside Police)
The Whitney family raked in hundreds of thousands of pounds from a ‘drugs cash-and-carry business’ supplying desperate addicts round-the-clock for two years. 
The gang used a number of safe houses in the Anfield area and a stolen SA80 assault rifle with 1,200 rounds of ammunition was  found in one gang member’s car. 
They used two mobile numbers – known as the ‘Whitney line’ – to sell wraps to users, often from a phone box on the street. 
Police said the gang ran a ‘drugs cash-and-carry business creating a massive crime wave and bringing misery to some of society’s most vulnerable people’. 
The gang was brought to justice by undercover officers who posed as buyers to make test purchases. 
One member Emma Mackenzie, 29, tried to hide cocaine wraps in a nappy bag as she passed her 12-month-old child to her mother during a raid on her home. 
When police raided the home of ‘banker and matriarch’ Carol Whitney they found 520 heroin wraps hanging on a bush in her garden. 
She also claimed £5,000 benefits even though £114,000 went into  her bank account in a year. 
13 of the gang – seven from the Whitney family – were jailed at Liverpool crown court.
Ringleader Paul Whitney, 32, was jailed for nine years and four months;
Matthew Mayor, 37, received a sentence of eight years and four months; matriarch Carol Whitney, 53, was given eight years, as was Mary McCabe, 53.
Michael O'Toole, 33, will spend eight years behind bars; Leslie Whitney, 57, was given seven-and-a-half years; Michael Waters, 25, was jailed for five years and four months; Neil Brady, 35, received the same sentence; Wayne Hincks, 28, received six years and eight months in jail.
Lisa Whitney, 31, and Gary Edwards, 48, were both given four years;  Thomas Dowd, 29, was sentenced to four years and four months; and
Emma Mackenzie, 29, was jailed for two years and three months.

:Text may be subject to copyright.This blog does not claim copyright to any such text. Copyright remains with the original copyright holder.

Ronnie Biggs actually has a story to tell.

Of all the celebrities releasing autobiographies this Christmas, at least Ronnie Biggs actually has a story to tell.

The Great Train Robber – maligned and mythologised in equal measure – bowed out yesterday, a very old, frail man, surrounded by cameras and TV crews, making what will be his last ever public appearance to promote his new autobiography.

At 82, he can no longer walk or talk after a series of stroke and arrived at the east London book launch in his wheelchair, accompanied by his son, Michael, and friend and ghost writer Chris Pickard. Wearing sunglasses and a suit with jacket draped, Corleone-style, over his thin shoulders, Biggs communicated with the press by pointing to a letter board which with, “yes” and "no" on it, as well as one of his favourite retorts - “bollocks”.

Though he had no recourse to point to his favourite word yesterday, Biggs remained bullish about “misconceptions” about him, which, he claims, were created by the media. The man who spent 8 years in prison as a pensioner, said he felt more animosity toward the British press, than British law.

The book, Odd Man Out: The Last Straw is an update on his 1994 autobiography, with 200 new pages covering his return to the UK in 2001, his second imprisonment, and his release on compassionate grounds in 2009 by then justice secretary Jack Straw. Already, it has been criticised for making profit from criminality.

By law the proceeds cannot go to Biggs, and will instead go to ghost writer Chris Pickard – a friend of the Biggs family for the past 30 years.

“The book is not profiting from crime,” said Biggs’s son Michael, 37, who was born in Brazil and had a successful musical career after becoming a child TV star. “There is a lot more to my father’s life and the book will clear up many misconceptions.”

It is now 50 years since Biggs played his part in the legendary theft of £2.6 million from a Glasgow to London mail train in 1963 – the biggest ever robbery in Britain at the time. He was caught and sentenced to 30 years in jail, but made a dramatic escape from Wandsworth prison in 1965, fleeing to the continent, where he had plastic surgery to hide his identity. He went on to spend a 30-year exile in Spain, Australia and Brazil.

While expressing regret this week for “the hurt caused” by his actions to family and friends and to Jack Mills, the train driver assaulted during the heist, Biggs remains bullish about his legacy in the new book.

“If you want to ask me if I have any regrets about being one of the train robbers, I will answer ‘NO!’,” he writes.

Asked yesterday how he thought the nation would remember him. After a pause in which he pointed out the letters on his word board, his son had the answer: "loveable rogue".

The previous edition of Bigg’s autobiography sold 30,000 copies, though some shops refused to stock it. Ghost writer Pickard was confident that the updated version would be equally successful.

However, the book sheds no light on the last remaining mysteries surrounding the heist. The whereabouts of “Mr Three”, the man Biggs claims was responsible for assaulting Mills, remains unsolved. Asked if Mr Three was still alive, Biggs gave a dismissive shrug.

Equally, the identity of the three members of the 16-strong that got away is a secret that will follow Biggs to his grave. He said he had “no right to” give his old cohorts away.

Three men have been sentenced to nine years for a boiler-room investment fraud

Three men have been sentenced to nine years for a boiler-room investment fraud, the Serious Fraud Office has said, including one man who stole the identity of a registered financial adviser to commit the crime.

The operation, based in Spain, targeted investors in the UK between 2009 and 2010 and took in over £1.3m.

During the course of the fraud one of the men, James Muir Baird, stole the identity of an FSA registered financial adviser and an FSA registered company and set up a bank account.


By posing as a financial adviser he was able to purchase the contact details of people who had made investment enquiries on an investment website. This gave the boiler room the cold call list it needed to deploy high-pressure sales techniques.

Baird (D.O.B. 09/06/81) and Paul O'Leary (D.O.B. 22/08/73) of Braintree, and Omar Shorif Choudhury (D.O.B. 02/08/79) from Great Yeldham were sentenced today at Chelmsford Crown Court after pleading guilty to running a boiler-room fraud.

The defendants used high-pressure telesales techniques to promote worthless share bonds in non-trading companies pretending they were promoting shares in Chinese commodities firms.

Money paid to the boiler-room operation was used to to support the lavish lifestyle of Baird and the boiler-room employees.

"Boiler rooms are a blight on the investment sector," said SFO director Richard Alderman. "They often create victims out of aspiring individuals and dash hopes of a secure retirement.

"I am pleased that the SFO has played its part in bringing the offenders to justice. I hope that confiscation will help to restore some of the damage so callously done."

Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs,has made a rare public appearance to promote his autobiography.

Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, who lived in Redhill and was arrested there for his part in the infamous crime, has made a rare public appearance to promote his autobiography.

Biggs, 82, attended the publicity event in East London with his son Michael, to publicise his book, Odd Man Out: The Last Straw.

His son spoke for him as Biggs was unable to - the result of a series of strokes which have also left him unable to walk.

He said his father had no regrets about returning to the UK to face justice after spending more than 30 years on the run, but Biggs did express sorrow over the death of the driver of the mail train they robbed in 1963, who never fully recovered from being hit with a cosh during the crime.

The book brings Biggs' autobiography of 1994 up to date, with his return to the UK, his time in prison, his release in 2009 on compassionate grounds and his life since covered.

Earlier in 2009, the then Justice Secretary Jack Straw turned down Biggs' application for parole on the grounds that the robber was “wholly unrepentant” about his crimes.

However, a month later, he did grant Biggs parole saying the decision was based on medical evidence that Biggs's health had deteriorated in prison and he was not expected to recover.

Biggs was one of a 15-strong gang which attacked the Glasgow to London mail train at Ledburn, Buckinghamshire, on August 8, 1963, before making off with £2.6 million.

After escaping from Wandsworth Prison, South London, 15 months into his 30-year sentence, he went on the run for more than 30 years, living in Spain, Australia and Brazil, before returning to the UK in 2001.

Biggs moved to Redhill in about 1961 and set up as a painter and decorator.

According to his close friend Mike Gray, from Epsom, who with Tel Currie wrote a book on Biggs called Ronnie Biggs: The Inside Story, he took part in the robbery because he needed £500 for the deposit to put on the property in Alpine Road, Redhill, which he and his wife were renting – ironically, from a policeman.

He had gone through with the robbery even though he had just won £500 at the races in Brighton.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Steven Cardwell was convicted on Friday of conspiracy to import, sell and possess prohibited firearms with intent to endanger life.


A man who helped an international gun runner to smuggle dozens of handguns into Britain on commercial flights has been given an indeterminate jail sentence.

Steven Cardwell, 31, was sentenced on Friday at Liverpool crown court.

He obtained scores of handguns from Steven Greenoe, 37, who hid the component parts in his luggage on flights from the United States.

Cardwell, of Aintree, Liverpool, was told he would not be eligible for parole for at least 11 years. He showed no emotion as he was sentenced.

He was found guilty on Thursday of conspiracy to import, sell and possess prohibited firearms with intent to endanger life, following a four-week trial. Judge Elgan Edwards told him they were "extremely grave crimes".

Greenoe was arrested at Raleigh Durham airport in North Carolina in July 2010, when a cache of 16 guns were found in his suitcase. Police described him as a Walter Mitty character.

Judge Edwards told Cardwell: "You co-operated with Greenoe and you were a vital part of the distribution network. You distributed handguns which could have had no lawful purpose. You imported them into this country and distributed them to the criminal underworld."

Prosecutors said that, over a six-month period last year, Greenoe purchased 81 firearms in gun shops in the US and it is believed that he smuggled at least 63 of them into the UK. Only 10 have been recovered.

The judge said it was worrying that 53 guns remained in circulation, adding: "Without doubt, sadly, they will be used in criminal activity and other people will be hurt as a result."

Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Richardson, head of the North West regional organised crime unit, promised to protect people who came forward with intelligence.

"I won't rest until all those firearms are safely in the hands of the police," he said. He described Cardwell as a "criminal businessman dealing in death and misery".

"The number of firearms imported appears to have increased as the conspiracy grew in confidence," prosecutor Neil Flewitt QC said on Friday.

"Clearly, Greenoe was the American end of the operation but it could not have operated effectively without someone in the UK to receive and distribute the firearms."

Gordon Cole QC, defending, said in mitigation that Cardwell, a married father of one, was "brought into" the conspiracy by Greenoe amid financial difficulties.

Greenoe, who is due to be sentenced in North Carolina in December, claims to be a former captain in the US marines and worked as a bodyguard for Madonna, the jury heard.

At the time of the offences, Greenoe had indefinite leave to remain in the UK because his then wife, Elizabeth, is British. The couple have since divorced.

His former wife told the court she saw photographs on Facebook of her then husband in the company of stars including George Clooney, Matt Damon and Madonna.

Police are expected to launch further action against Cardwell under the Proceeds of Crime Act in an effort to seize his profits.

Houghton faces three counts of attempted murder of a police officer, two of attempted grievous bodily harm on a police officer, one of assault causing actual bodily harm on a police officer, one assault on police and one of affray

Wembley man is due to appear in court charged over attacks on four police officers who were stabbed and wounded, police said.

Christopher Houghton, 32, of Milford Gardens, will appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London.

Four policemen were stabbed on Saturday as they tried to arrest a man who had grabbed a 12in knife from a butcher's shop.

Houghton faces three counts of attempted murder of a police officer, two of attempted grievous bodily harm on a police officer, one of assault causing actual bodily harm on a police officer, one assault on police and one of affray, Scotland Yard said.

The drama brought chaos to Kingsbury, in the suburbs of north west London, on Saturday morning. Eyewitnesses told how police chased a man down the road and in and out of shops before he grabbed a knife.

All four policemen were taken to hospital. On Sunday night two officers remained in hospital, in serious but stable condition.

One is aged in his twenties, with three years' service, who sustained a stab wound to the stomach, while the other is in his twenties with six years' service who sustained head injuries and a stab wound to the arm.

An officer in his thirties with five years' service who received a stab wound to the leg and a fourth in his twenties with eight years' service who sustained a broken hand and a broken thumb have now been discharged.

Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam must be prosecuted under international standards even if his trial takes place in Libya and not at the International Criminal Court (ICC),

Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam must be prosecuted under international standards even if his trial takes place in Libya and not at the International Criminal Court (ICC), William Hague has urged.

The Foreign Secretary spoke out as ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo was due in Tripoli for talks over the fate of the former dictator's one-time heir apparent, who was captured at the weekend.

Information minister Mahmoud Shammam has insisted the trial will take place on home soil and not at The Hague after news of the arrest on Saturday sparked a wave of celebrations across the country.

But concerns have emerged that the former rebel faction that captured him is refusing to hand him over to the authorities in Tripoli, raising further doubts about the chances of a fair trial.

Another Libyan being sought by the ICC over his role in the repression of pro-democracy protests, former intelligence minister Abdullah al-Senussi, has also been captured alive, Tripoli said.

Asked if he backed the domestic trial decision, Mr Hague told BBC Radio 4: "I would like to see him tried to international standards, whether that be in Libya or in The Hague. That is the important thing.

"The details of that have to be sorted out between the ICC and the transitional government."

He added: "Of course, it is within the rules of the International Criminal Court that people can be tried within the country concerned, by agreement with the ICC.

"They also have every right to try Saif al-Islam for any crimes committed before February, before the indictment of the ICC."

The mother of murdered Milly Dowler has told the Leveson Inquiry she did not sleep for three days after discovering her daughter's phone was hacked.

Sally Dowler said the intrusion had led her to believe the teenager was alive and checking her messages.

Mrs Dowler and her husband Bob were the first witnesses to appear at the inquiry into the "culture, practices and ethics" of the media.

Celebrities Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and JK Rowling are due to appear later.

Mrs Dowler described to the inquiry how they reacted when they could again get through to her previously-full voicemail.

"I rang her phone and it clicked through on to her voicemail and I just jumped and said: 'She's picked up her voicemails Bob, she's alive'. When we heard about the hacking that was the first thing I thought."

She added: "I told my friends, 'she's picked up her voicemail, she's picked up her voicemail'.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Former Royal Marine Carl Davies was raped before being stabbed and his body hurled into a roadside ravine

Brutal: Ex-Marine Carl Davies was raped before being killed and dumped in a ravine, a new post mortem has revealed

Brutal: Ex-Marine Carl Davies was raped before being killed and dumped in a ravine, a new post mortem has revealed

Former Royal Marine Carl Davies was raped before being stabbed and his body hurled into a roadside ravine close to a military barracks on the paradise island of Reunion, a new post-mortem has confirmed.

A second examination of the body of the Kent man revealed he had been sexually assaulted prior to being beaten about the head and knifed in the stomach. 

The first bungled autopsy put his death down to an accident. 

As revealed by MailOnline yesterday, his family believe his murder was covered up to protect tourism there, which accounts for 70per cent of GDP.

A team of British detectives is due to arrive on the island to assist investigations, sources indicated at the weekend. 

On the night of his death on November 9, Mr Davies had been out drinking in St Denis, the capital of Reunion, with two sailors who were serving on board the Cyprus-registered MV Atlantic Trader.

Mr Davies, 33, was employed on the container ship as a guard against Somali pirates who regularly prey on ships in the Indian ocean.

shiny Audis and BMWs that still line the narrow streets of Benalup are a reminder that this Andalucían country town once boasted the greatest number of luxury cars per head in the south-western province of Cádiz.

Benalup Street Andalucia Spain
 Photograph: Tracey Fahy /Alamy

The shiny Audis and BMWs that still line the narrow streets of Benalup are a reminder that this Andalucían country town once boasted the greatest number of luxury cars per head in the south-western province of Cádiz.

These days this charming place, set bull-rearing countryside inland from Gibraltar, holds a different kind of record: not only the worst unemployment rate in the country, but the worst in Europe.

"I don't know whether they can fix this," said 19-year-old Juan Carlos Gutiérrez, one of hundreds of young people who dropped out of school and now drift between part-time work, training courses and the dole queue. "I've picked asparagus and worked in a packing factory, but the jobs never last. The future is screwed."

"Everyone our age is out of work," agreed Nora Pérez, 22, as she waited for the hearse bringing her grandmother to her funeral in the picturesque square of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. "My father went to Germany when he was young. Our generation may emigrate as well. Some of my friends have already left."

A grey-bearded, bespectacled man grins from a campaign poster overlooking the tiny ornamental gardens and bandstand on San Juan Street and calls on the people of Benalup to "sign up to change". He is Mariano Rajoy, the conservative People's party (PP) leader set to become Spain's prime minister at the general election on Sunday.

Rajoy will inherit a country in crisis. Growth is zero and unemployment has hit 23%. In Cádiz province, one in three is jobless. In Benalup 1,500 adults are without work. In a country where 46% of the under-25s cannot find employment, Benalup's unqualified youngsters are getting desperate.

"Many got into debt when times were good, buying houses and cars and starting families," says Ricardo Jiménez, who runs the local branch of the Catholic charity Caritas. "Families are very close and help one another out, but we already help 80 families and more come every month. Some are asking for help to feed their babies," he said. That means almost 5% of the town needs church handouts.

Others are handed money by the town hall or given whatever jobs local politicians can invent. "If we have to dig a ditch we do it by hand, rather than with a digger, because that way we employ more people," said councillor Manuel Moguel.

When Luis Moreno, 23, left school five years ago there was no need to worry about finding a job. All you had to do was walk on to a building site. "It was very simple," he says.

Now he receives €526 (£450) a month to attend a training course designed to turn a dozen locals into graphic designers, though design jobs are not plentiful in Benalup. "We have to learn new skills," he says. He is one of the lucky ones. Courses like this are heavily oversubscribed.

As markets demand ever higher interest payments for lending Spain money, and the European Union instructs its politicians to slash its deficit, public money is drying up. Yields on Spanish debt have now overtaken Italy's and soared to the same levels at which Greece and Portugal needed to be bailed out. And if Spain – a much larger economy – fails, then it may bring down the euro.

Spain's biggest problem remains the money owed to banks for property or land bought during a decade-long boom fuelled by cheap credit. The rows of unsold new homes in Benalup are evidence of Spain's housing bubble, which burst in 2008, leaving 700,000 unsold new houses on the market.

By 2004, more than 80% of Benalup's labour force worked in construction, building homes or holiday apartments along the nearby Mediterranean coast.

"Kids left school at 16 because they could earn €3,000 a month working a three-and-a-half-day week," says Moguel. "I had university-trained engineers working in my company who were earning less than that."

As money poured into people's pockets, the number of banks in town doubled. La Caixa, a newly arrived savings bank, started a local lending war – its manager winning awards. "Kids were buying houses and cars with the loans. And those who already had a house bought another one," says Moguel.

Now the town is plastered with "For Sale" signs from Servihabitat, the real estate branch of La Caixa, which is repossessing properties – though owners must still pay off their full debt after homes have been taken away. "That's unfair. You can't have a bank saying your home is worth €180,000, lending you the money and then repossessing it at half that price," says Moguel, a Socialist. He is uncomfortably aware that Spain's torrid affair with speculative capitalism happened largely on the watch of the Socialist government led by outgoing prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

Even in Benalup, where the Socialists once won 90% of the vote and which still remembers the bloody suppression of an uprising by local anarchists in the 1930s, the vote is now sliding to the right. "It used to be tough in this town to be from the People's party, but we won 43% of the vote at municipal elections in May," says Vicente Peña, a 40-year-old veterinarian who heads the party's local branch.

Peña delivers the same diagnosis of Benalup's ills as his Socialist opponents. "Too many people dropped out of school to become bricklayers. They can't even write a sentence properly."

Vicente Ruiz, owner of the El Buyí bar, will vote for Rajoy. "When Caritas is the biggest employer in town, things are really bad," he says. "It is shameful to have to ask for charity. What we need is a Mrs Thatcher."

Public money is being spent on silly projects, clients in his bar agree. "I've had 60-year-old women coming to bricklaying courses," says one, Nicolás. "It is ridiculous, but they each get their own overalls and hammer."

Peña says that, among other things, people will have to go back to the land. But even there things are going badly. Local horses, bred at stud farms set up as a trophy hobby by nouveau riche local builders, are now being sacrificed for meat and exported to dinner tables in northern Spain.

Pura Raza Española ponies are going for €150. Even fighting bulls are on the decline. "Town halls subsidised many bullfights," says rancher Salvador Gaviria. "But now they have no money, so the market is sinking." The number of bullfights across Spain has fallen by a third as a result.

Benalup is too far inland from the beach to attract tourists. A golf resort set up by a Belgian company, Fairplay, is said to be struggling. The Hotel Utopia, a boutique-style establishment that opened recently, was almost empty this week.

Spaniards hope Rajoy, who has been deliberately ambiguous about his austerity programme and liberal reform plans, can fix their problems. "If changing to Rajoy is going to solve everything, then why haven't the markets – which know he is going to win — shown they trust him?" asks Moguel.

Rajoy will come under immediate pressure to reveal how he plans to square a budget that needs some €41bn of savings next year. Those must come on top of austerity measures already imposed by Zapatero, who cut civil service pay and froze pensions.

Alberto Ruíz Gallardón, PP mayor of Madrid and a probable minister, has called on the socialists to hand over power quickly. "It could be dangerous to prolong the caretaker period," he says.

But parliament does not meet again until 13 December and it may take another fortnight to appoint Rajoy formally. Even if he takes over immediately, jobs are unlikely to reappear in Benalup.

Fortunately it retains the Cádiz tradition of laughing at adversity. Benalup's carnival musical groups are already practising the typicalchirigota songs that parody the powerful. Rajoy, Angela Merkel and the European Central Bank can all expect to feature in them by the time carnival comes around in February.

Watchdog warns over shooting probe


An investigation into the death of Mark Duggan, whose fatal shooting by police triggered riots across the country, has still to establish the sequence of events concerning a handgun found at the scene, the police watchdog said. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said that was a key element in its probe. But it said that the sequence of events was not yet known, despite a report in Saturday's Guardian that the investigation had found no forensic evidence that he was carrying a non-police-issue gun. The newspaper, in a story headlined "Revealed: man whose shooting triggered riots was not armed", said a gun collected by Mr Duggan earlier in the day was recovered 10ft-14ft (3m-4.25m) away, on the other side of a low fence from his body, and that he was killed outside the vehicle he was travelling in, after a police marksman fired twice. On the day Mr Duggan was shot, there is overwhelming evidence that he had obtained a firearm, but the investigation is considering whether he had the weapon in his possession when he was shot, the Guardian said. The IPCC said in a statement on Saturday night that the investigation was examining a range of issues. "This is a complex investigation that involves gathering information including witness statements, pathology, forensics and ballistics analysis and we have stated to the coroner that it will be completed within four to six months," the statement said. "One of the key elements we will seek to establish is the sequence of events concerning the non-police issue firearm found at the scene. That has not been established yet, contrary to what has been written in the Guardian article today. "We would urge people not to rush to judgment until our investigation is complete and they have the opportunity to see and hear the full evidence themselves." The statement said the IPCC believes the headline on the Guardian's article was "misleading, speculative and wholly irresponsible".

Friday, 18 November 2011

Bristol-based St Paul's Blood gang, posed in hoods and neckerchiefs in the clip that was uploaded to the video-sharing website.

The men, who were members of the Bristol-based St Paul's Blood gang, posed in hoods and neckerchiefs in the clip that was uploaded to the video-sharing website.

But police, who saw the film, spotted one of the gang pulling out a .22 handgun while two other weapons were showed off during the five-minute rap video in which they threatened to shoot members of a rival gang in the city.

Officers raided the home of ringleader Narwayne Parchment, 22, in February and found a loaded .22 black handgun as well as sawn-off shotgun and a Desert Eagle-style handgun.

Parchment, of St Paul's, Bristol admitted firearms offences and was jailed for six years along with O'Shane Finlayson, 20, and Linus Campbell, 22.

Noah Ntuve, 25, was jailed for five years after pleading guilty while Kamari Lee, 18, was ordered to serve three years.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

real-life son of Freddie “Brown Bread Fred” Foreman, one of London’s most feared gangsters and an enforcer for the Krays.

NEW EastEnders bad boy Derek Branning shouldn’t have to act too much if he’s a chip off the old block.
Advertisement >>

Jamie Foreman, 53, who is to play the elder brother of Jack, Max and Carol Branning, is the real-life son of Freddie “Brown Bread Fred” Foreman, one of London’s most feared gangsters and an enforcer for the Krays.

He appears on screen for the first time next week and a show source said: “Derek doesn’t take any prisoners, and even brother Jack and Phil Mitchell clash with him at times. It’s going to be explosive.”

A criminal known as the “Prince of Darkness” has launched a legal bid to be released from prison

Tottenham’s Mark Lambie, 40, was on Operation Trident’s “most wanted” list when he was jailed for 12 years at the Old Bailey in 2002 for the kidnap and torture of two men in north London.

Lambie, who was famously cleared of the murder of PC Keith Blakelock during the 1985 Broadwater Farm riots, was released from jail on licence in 2009, but recalled after he was linked to an alleged blackmail incident in Manchester.

From his jail cell in HMP Swaleside, in Kent, Lambie is now claiming a parole board decision to keep him in prison is “irrational” and he should be freed.

In its decision, the parole board described how Lambie’s gang kidnapped two men in 2001 and took them to a flat in Tottenham, where they were hit with a hammer. The prosecution also alleged they were burnt with an iron and had boiling water poured on their genitals.

After serving half of his sentence, Lambie was released on licence in 2009, but was returned to prison less than a year later after he was linked with a blackmail allegation in Manchester, for which no charges were brought.

Rejecting his case for release in October last year, the parole board found: “You are assessed as posing a high risk of harm to members of the public.”

Lambie, who has 42 previous convictions, is now applying for a judicial review of the parole board’s decision not to recommend his release.

His High Court case is due to be heard by a senior judge next month.

former policeman from South Yorkshire has been jailed for 10 years and three months today for his part in an attempted £330 million VAT fraud

A former policeman from South Yorkshire has been jailed for 10 years and three months today for his part in an attempted £330 million VAT fraud - the largest of its kind in the UK.

He and five others were caught by investigators from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) after they claimed their new business, Ideas 2 Go Ltd, had sold more than six million mobile phones and had a turnover of more than £2.4 billion in just eight months.

Using details from hijacked or fictitious companies the gang produced thousands of invoices for sales of mobile phones and computer software, producing billions of pounds in fabricated turnover, which generated around £330 million in fraudulent VAT repayments. Cranswick and his gang invented over 6,000 fake business transactions in an attempt to make the repayments appear legitimate.

Ringleader Nigel Cranswick, 47, from Dinnington in South Yorkshire went from ‘rags to riches’ in a matter of weeks. Heavily in debt and only weeks into his new business venture, he quit his job as a serving policeman and began splashing out on extravagant purchases. He made lavish improvements to his home, rented a luxury apartment in the Spanish town of Marbella and paid for private schooling and tennis lessons for his children.

Cranswick claimed that in the first six weeks of trading Ideas 2 Go had turned over more than £527million. The company had traded over £47million before they even got round to opening a bank account for the business.

Exchequer Secretary, David Gauke said:

“This Government will not tolerate dishonest people stealing public money. This sentence shows that those who try to commit fraud need to think again – HMRC will find you and the courts will punish you.

“The additional £917m we have invested in HMRC will see more cases like this successfully prosecuted, sending a clear and powerful message:”

HMRC Assistant Director for Criminal Investigation Paul Rooney comments:

“As a police officer Cranswick knew full well that he was breaking the law, yet; motivated by greed, he chose to overlook it for the opportunity of making what he wrongly assumed would be easy money. He now has to pay a very high price for his poor judgement and lack of integrity.

“This was a sophisticated fraud designed to steal hundreds of millions of pounds of tax, but it started to unravel when our investigations identified sales for more than 50,000 mobile phones, which the manufacturers hadn’t even begun producing in their factories.“

Other members of the gang included; Nigel Cranswick’s sister, Clare Reid (Smyth), 44, and her husband Darren Smyth, 42, both from Maltby, former railway trackman Brian Olive, 66, from Doncaster, former removal man, Thomas Murphy, 26, from Dinnington and 28 year-old former council housing officer, Andrew Marsh, from Sheffield.

The gang operated a number of scams in order to generate their illicit profit. They created false documents relating to the importation, sale and export of mobile phones and software systems. They hijacked the identities of legitimate companies and created fake customers and suppliers to try and give their business an air of legitimacy.

It wasn’t long before Cranswick began to reap the benefits of his crime. Following visits by HMRC, Cranswick; worried he had roused suspicion, emigrated to the Spanish town of Marbella. When he realised the company was under investigation he falsely claimed he was getting divorced in an attempt to protect his illicit assets.

Within days of registering Ideas 2 Go for VAT, Cranswick was contacted by HMRC compliance officers who raised concerns at his business practices and record keeping. Within a few months HMRC had identified that the business was indeed a scam and began to investigate.

Sentencing the gang today His Honour Judge Brian Forster QC at Newcastle Crown Court said:

This was an unprecedented attack on the public revenue… The figures in this case are astonishing and reveal a blatant nature of the fraud. They persisted in dishonest trading despite numerous warnings from HMRC.

A mother who lived the high life in the sun for five years while claiming thousands in UK benefits has been jailed

Debbie Williamson splashed out on a villa with a swimming pool in Spain and deposited £30,000 into a Spanish bank while pocketing the benefits, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

The 45-year-old from Barnsley, then 'lied and lied and lied' when authorities launched an investigation.

Jailed: Debbie Williamson, 45, of Barnsley, splashed out on the villa and deposited £30,000 into a Spanish bank while claiming benefits, Sheffield Crown Court heard

The court was told how she had insisted she was not living full time in Spain, prolonging the probe into her circumstances.

During her time in Spain she falsely claimed £41,800: £28,558 from income support from the Department of Work and Pensions; £11,142 in housing benefit and £2,100 in council tax benefits from Barnsley Council from 2003 to 2008.

Oliver Thorne, prosecuting, said Williamson successfully applied for income support in March 2003 and bought her property in Valencia just two months later - calling it Villa Jessica after her daughter who was then 13.

The DWP launched an inquiry after an anonymous tip off claiming Williamson was living in Spain with husband Ian and running a bar.

High life: Williamson had denied living in Spain but was discovered to have built a villa in Valencia

She never bothered to notify the authorities of her change in circumstances, the court heard.

Williamson was arrested in January 2009 and declared she had never lived in Spain and that her daughter went to primary school in the UK.

But she had made regular cash withdrawals in Spain and booked numerous flights to Spain for her family.

It was then established she owned the plot of land in Valencia containing a single-storey villa with swimming pool.

Spanish school records confirmed her daughter had been educated in Spain.

Records from the girl's school in England showed she had been taken out of the school in March 2004 because he family was 'emigrating to Spain'.

The court was told Williamson, who admitted 10 counts of fraudulently obtaining benefits and sobbed during the hearing, had only repaid £45.

She was jailed for 18 months.

Recorder of Sheffield Judge Alan Goldsack QC said: 'There you were enjoying yourself in Spain while people here were having tax taken off them which was going to fund your lifestyle.

'The immediate victims were Barnsley Council and the DWP but the real victims, of course, are your fellow citizens.

'For five years until the authorities were tipped off, you were claiming benefits you were not entitled to.

'For most of that period you were actually living in Spain. It seems unlikely any of this money will be recovered for the taxpayers.'

Sunday, 13 November 2011

IT’S prison or death out there. I’ve seen people get stabbed and my friend was shot dead last year... I was lucky it didn’t happen to me.


“IT’S prison or death out there. I’ve seen people get stabbed and my friend was shot dead last year... I was lucky it didn’t happen to me.”

These are the chilling words of a 19-year-old Birmingham gang member who once roamed the streets of Lozells, selling drugs and fighting with rivals over territory.

He has since left that dark and dangerous life behind him and is on course to become a PE teacher.

Now he has helped make an award-winning film aimed at warning the next generation of the dangers of gangs.

It is being shown in schools across Birmingham to children the same age he was when he became involved.

Today, the teenager lifts the lid on the closed world of gang culture in our second city.

But even now he cannot be named for fear of retribution from the people he once saw as ‘family’.

“It started when we were at high school,” he told the Sunday Mercury.

“I was part of a group of friends who came together and decided no-one would trouble us if we had any problems. There were probably about 20 of us in Lozells and Aston.

“Back then, it felt more like a family than a gang.

‘‘You do everything with your gang.

“If you go to the city centre or something like the bonfire at Pype Hayes, you wouldn’t go on your own, you’d go with 20 or 30 people so you were safe.

“If we saw other gangs there would be a fight. And that could escalate really easily.

“Luckily, I was never a person to get stabbed but I’ve seen things like that and it’s not nice.

‘‘My friend was also shot and killed last year. He was just in a car; it was a long-term rivalry; they pulled up next to him and shot him.

“In the back of your mind you know you don’t want to be in that environment, but you’re probably safer with your friends than without them.

“If you get caught slipping by going somewhere and another gang sees you, you’re liable, They don’t care whether you’re still in the gang or not.”


Yet what started out as friends sticking up for each other quickly changed into criminal behaviour as the teen’s gang began selling drugs to make money.

The wannabe teacher, who was once cautioned for possession of cannabis, added: “The aim was just to survive and to make money to live life.

“Everyone was selling it for someone else and just trying to make a bit for themselves.

“We would sell whatever drugs the buyer wanted really, if people want something you’ll end up trying to sell it.”

And he claimed his young gang members were led further astray by older kids who thrive on street violence.

“Peer pressure plays a big part,” he added.

“There were older figures but we never saw them as leaders. We saw them as older brothers. That’s the influence they had on us.

“There was loads of people our age with nothing to do. We were all young and easily influenced by the older generation.

“They used to say it was ‘robbery season’ where everything you want, you get. If you want a phone, you go and rob a phone.

‘‘It was callous and evil.”

And as the gang got older, the trouble they got into became more serious.

“I think half of our gang ended up in jail,” added the 19-year-old.

“That’s for everything from drugs to violence to robbery.

small-time drug dealer was tortured, killed and his body dismembered into six pieces 'behind closed doors' by a brutal drug gang

small-time drug dealer was tortured, killed and his body dismembered into six pieces 'behind closed doors' by a brutal drug gang, a court heard yesterday. 

Adam Vincent, 33, was shot with air rifle pellets and savagely punched and kicked in the weeks before his gruesome death.  

The gang then scattered his body parts in waterways across Lincolnshire, Sheffield Crown Court was told. 

Adam Vincent's head, right arm and right leg were found in the River Ancholme, near Brigg in June

Discovery: Adam Vincent's head, right arm and right leg were found in the River Ancholme, near Brigg in June, pictured

His severed leg was found sticking out of the water by birdwatchers at Tetney Lock near Cleethorpes on March 3 this year. 

After a police investigation two other parts were recovered and his head, right arm and right leg were found in the River Ancholme, near Brigg in June. 

Prosecutor Tom Bayliss QC said the five-strong gang believed Mr Vincent had stolen £5,000 from them and 'grassed' them up to the police.

The court heard Mr Vincent was a heroin addict and sold 'wraps' for the gang in return for using some of the drug himself.



At the time of his death he was living with the gang whose headquarters was based in a small bungalow in Scartho, Grimsby. 

Grimsby men Lee Griffiths, 43, his sons Thomas, 22, and Luke, 19, Lee's stepson Mark Jackson, 27, and Matthew Frow, 32, all deny murder between February 26 and March 4. 

They also deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by concealing Mr Vincent's dismembered body between the same dates along with Andrew Lusher, 43, also from Grimsby, who is alleged to have hired the van used to dispose of the body. 

Mr Vincent's severed leg was found sticking out of the water by birdwatchers at Tetney Lock near Cleethorpes, pictured, on March 3 this year

Mr Vincent's severed leg was found sticking out of the water by birdwatchers at Tetney Lock near Cleethorpes, pictured, on March 3 this year

The three Griffiths and Mark Jackson further deny conspiracy to supply heroin between December 1, 2010 to March 7, 2011. 

Frow admits conspiracy to supply the Class A drug. 

Mr Bayliss said Mr Vincent was a close associate of the five men charged with murder. 

He did small-time drug dealing on their behalf and 'it was the gang he was associated with that killed him.' 

Three weeks before Mr Vincent's body was found three of the gang were arrested for drugs offences by police then released.

'Birdwatchers chanced on the leg just hours after it had been dumped'

Officers searched the bungalow, which is owned by Lee Griffiths, and where Mr Vincent had been living. 

Mr Bayliss said Lee Griffiths believed Mr Vincent had given information to the police and had stolen £5,000 and drugs from them. 

The gang began a 'sustained physical assault' on Mr Vincent and the violence continued for a fortnight ultimately leading to his death.

A post mortem showed Mr Vincent died from a blunt force trauma to the head. He had been struck at least three times with a weapon. 

Mr Vincent was last seen alive on February 27 and the following day it is claimed that one of the gang sent a text to his girlfriend which implied Adam Vincent had been killed. 

His body was dismembered after his death and a van, organised by Lusher, was allegedly used to dispose of it. 

The birdwatchers chanced on the leg just hours after it had been dumped.

Prosecutor Tom Bayliss QC told Sheffield Crown Court, pictured, the five-strong gang believed Mr Vincent had stolen £5,000 from them and 'grassed' them up to the police

Prosecutor Tom Bayliss QC told Sheffield Crown Court, pictured, the five-strong gang believed Mr Vincent had stolen £5,000 from them and 'grassed' them up to the police


Mr Bayliss said: 'Adam Vincent was killed behind closed doors by this gang. 

'All five of the defendants were participating in a joint enterprise which led to Adam Vincent's death.'

He said it was difficult to identify individual acts of violence but the prosecution claim anyone involved in it is guilty of murder even if they were not present when the fatal blow was delivered.

The court heard three of the gang were arrested for suspected drugs offences and the bungalow was searched. Drug paraphernalia was seized along with an air rifle on February 11.

Pellets matched to the rifle were found in Mr Vincent's body. 

Mr Bayliss said: 'Even before this one of the things that was happening was that Mr Vincent had been shot in the body by this a air rifle.

'It would have caused pain and injury. It was an indication of how he was being treated. 

'Mr Vincent's father Keith visited his son who was in hospital with pneumonia in late January. Mr Vincent told his dad he had had enough of his drug-taking lifestyle.'

'He said: ''I want to get away but they won't let me. I need to sort some issues out first.'

'He later added: 'You don't know these people. I'm trying to get it all sorted.''

Mr Vincent discharged himself against medical advice and was probably killed three weeks later. 

Mr Bayliss said witnesses spoke of how Mr Vincent would tell of being beaten up and how 'they couldn't let him go because he knew too much.' 

When Mr Vincent stole the money from the gang he was given 'a bit of a kicking' and was tied up in the house, it was alleged. 

Another witness said Lee Griffiths was becoming 'paranoid' about heroin going missing from the house and suspected Mr Vincent had been stealing it. 

The court heard that as early as January Mr Vincent was seen with a black eye and Thomas Griffiths was bragging he had shot him. 

A few days before Mr Vincent was killed Thomas Griffiths was seen to punch him in the face in the house and Luke Griffiths kicked him in the side while his father held a knife to Mr Vincent's throat. 

The victim was later seen in pain and by February 26 was described as having a 'shocking' appearance by a witness at a supermarket.

He was walking with a limp and had cuts all over his face.

'His facial expression according to a security guard was one of terror,' said Mr Bayliss. 

The hearing, which is expected to last at least six weeks, continues.

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(1) jail terms totalling more than 63 years to William Byrne and 14 crooks linked to his gang. (1) just months (1) known locally as Eddie (1) made more than £1m from crime. He must pay £100 (1) major rural crime wave could break out across Wales (1) man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a man who was shot dead in south Manchester. (1) man has been shot dead by an off-duty police officer during a suspected robbery at a petrol station. (1) man in his 20s has been arrested over the murder of a champion kickboxer in Dundalk (1) moved to Thailand in 2006 to study the deadly Muay Thai fighting style (1) murdering honeymooner Anni Dewani in Cape Town (1) night-time signalling between vessels at sea and people on the shore (1) of Ansty Road (1) of Clapham (1) of Common Road (1) of Forest Gate (1) of Haig Avenue (1) of Hapton (1) of Looe (1) of Mount Avenue (1) of Oxford Road (1) of Pennyvoss Road (1) of Queen Street (1) of School Lane (1) often borrowed from friends (1) on 3 January when he was shot in the chest. (1) prison officer has been arrested after attempting to smuggle drugs into Mountjoy prison today. (1) seized 180 kilograms of ketamine in Felixstowe (1) seized a haul of scam post in a bid to tackle the UK-wide fraudulent mail blight. (1) seven men and five women found Hodgson guilty of murder at Teesside Crown Court. (1) sleeps on sofas and floors (1) south Kilmarnock and Dalkeith in Midlothian (1) stabbed both his parents to death after his mother called him a “f------ idiot” for lying in bed all morning with a hangover. (1) submachine guns and even hand grenades were being sold for as little as £50 (1) taxi firm has been denied an operator’s licence following police claims of criminal links (1) teenager was killed and another injured when two balaclava-wearing gunmen opened fire on a group of four young friends (1) the Gilnow Road gang (1) the eldest son of Viscount Trenchard (1) the famous fashion designer recently committed suicide by intake of a mixture of the cocaine (1) three dogs performing searches on vehicles entering the 14 jails across the Republic. (1) using guns in deadly drug disputes (1) was ambushed by four young men at the gates of Park Campus School in nearby West Norwood. (1) was arrested at Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport (1) was arrested by UK Border Agency officers in Coquelles (1) was blasted at least three times outside a relative’s home in South Cantril Avenue (1) was convicted in 2003 of hiring two “mules” to carry cocaine (1) was given three life sentences earlier this month. (1) was given three years and nine months behind bars after police found £1 million from the heist in the boot of his car. (1) was released after several hours of questioning over the shooting of Nicky Ayers (1) was shot at close range at least three times outside his daughter’s home in South Cantril Avenue (1) was shot dead in Tillingbourne Gardens (1) was sitting in a silver Volvo on Utting Avenue (1) were ambushed as they were driven through the vast shantytown of Gugulethu in South Africa (1) were among 13 men from around the country involved in the criminal group. (1) were found in 24 of the 33 pubs in and around Alnwick (1) were gunned down outside Strang House (1) were not legally married. (1) were part of a gang that brought in an estimated 16 tonnes of the drug. (1) which is in liquidation (1) who 'fired shots in party battle' arrested for attempted murder (1) who attended the hearing (1) who has already been sentenced to life imprisonment for the two killings (1) who reached No 3 in April with I Need You Tonight (1) whose ring nickname was Pitbull (1) wife of BA pilot vanishes from £3million B;B mansion (1) will be extradited over the murder of Kinga Legg (1) you can never move on with your life.'" (1) young boy has been shot dead. (1) £100m cocaine gang sentenced to 200 years in prison (1) £48k seized from Amsterdam passenger (1) £6m of drugs seized from Lancashire's streets (1) ‘Sick’ Dewani’s bail strategy (1) “Fragile” Shrien Dewani leaves hospital (1)

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