Three violent thugs who robbed a young family's home and attacked their dog so badly she lost an eye are among the criminals jailed in Manchester this week. Prison terms were also handed to a sick paedophile and his girlfriend who sexually abused two young girls over the course of half a decade.
A pervert, who changed their name to Rachel and was charged with 21 child sex offences, was also locked up after being caught out by a vigilante group. Jail sentences are handed out to some of the worst offenders each week and Manchester Evening News reporters are in court to cover the most serious cases.
Here are some of the criminals locked up in Greater Manchester this week...
Paralegal addicted to gambling stole £438k from law firm
A paralegal who was addicted to gambling has been jailed for stealing £438,000 from a law firm. Paul Young, 38, from Middleton, simply directed interim payments intended for innocent victims of road crashes into his bank accounts.
A court heard the victim of his fraud was his Manchester-based employer Berrymans Lace Mawer (BLM), which specialises in defending motoring claims on behalf of insurance companies.
Young, a father-of-two who earned £24,500-a-year as a paralegal at the firm's 'volume motor team' in Manchester city centre, was caught making one payment to the wrong payee but bosses didn't realise it was his account and dismissed it as a 'simple error'. It meant he could continue to defraud his employer, taking advantage of 'flaws in their system', a court was told.
Young dealt with solicitors who were making personal injury and vehicle damage claims to insurance giant, Aviva, which in turn was 'trusting the authenticity of the request', Mr Blackshaw told the court. Aviva had 'delegated' management of the claims to BLM.
By June 2019 managers at BLM realised Young was abusing Aviva's automated payment system to transfer funds to his own bank accounts rather than those of the claimants' solicitors.
Young had arranged 116 payments to his accounts totalling £437,598.79 during a three-year period which BLM had to pay back to Aviva, the court heard. He was sacked on June 25, 2019, following a disciplinary hearing he didn't attend.
The court heard the defendant paid a portion of the cash, almost £185,000, to an associate, Liam Henry. Both men were arrested but made no comment during police interviews.
Young, of Bamford Avenue in Middleton, said he suffers from anxiety, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation by obtaining £437,598.79 from Aviva and was jailed for three years and three months.
Henry, 37, of Holcombe Close in Kearsley, who admitted acquiring criminal property, was jailed for two years and two months.
Woman brutally attacked pal with meat cleaver over £20 and said 'I'll kill her"
A mum launched a horrendous meat cleaver attack on her friend following a petty row over £20. Zara Robertson, 36, hit her pal over the head several times with the fearsome weapon. After the appalling attack, Robertson said: "I'll go down for murder for her, I'll kill her."
The friends, who also lived on the same street in Miles Platting, had been drinking together in the hours leading up to the shocking incident. Robertson had agreed to lend her friend £20. Shortly after, she left Robertson to visit a relative, but returned back at her home at about 9pm on March 19 last year.
Robertson became 'agitated' and demanded the £20 back, and she called a taxi to take them to a nearby cash point. Her friend refused to get in and as she walked back to her home, there was a 'scuffle' as Robertson tried to force her in to the car, prosecutor Daniel Lister told Manchester Crown Court.
Suddenly she realised that Robertson had armed herself with a meat cleaver, before she was hit four or five times to the head with the weapon causing heavy bleeding. Robertson was arrested shortly after and racially abused a nurse in a police station, calling her 'white trash'.
Robertson, who was said to be 'ashamed' of her actions, has nine previous convictions including being jailed for two-and-a-half years for attacking an elderly man who had been 'supportive and friendly' towards her. Robertson, previously of Canada Street, Miles Platting, pleaded guilty to wounding with intent and racially aggravated harassment. She was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison.
Cocaine dealer known as 'The Unit' moaned that police had 'taken all my trainers and everything' after his role in criminal underworld exposed
A cocaine dealer known as 'The Unit' moaned that police had 'taken all [his] trainers and everything' after his role in the criminal underworld was exposed. Cornelius McFadden, 47, was unmasked as a 'trusted' courier linked to huge amounts of cocaine and also handled cash in excess of £300,000.
Despite living in a 'cramped' house in a state of 'disrepair', he had a genuine Cartier watch worth £9,450 and numerous pairs of trainers. The shoes were initially thought to be designer, but an investigation revealed they all were counterfeit apart from a genuine pair of Balenciaga trainers worth £700, Manchester Crown Court heard.
McFadden, from Stockport, has been locked up for eight years after he was unmasked as being behind the EncroChat username 'The Unit'. Messages were recovered and revealed how between April and June 2020 McFadden had been couriering drugs and cash, even during lockdown.
McFadden, of Balfour Grove, Reddish, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
Violent thugs held gun to dad's head before taking dog's eye out in terrifying burglary
Three men have been jailed for nearly three decades for their role in a terrifying armed robbery after smashing into a young couple's home in Trafford. Jack Golding, his fiancée Annmarie Behan and their young son Arlo were at home at around 12.30am on August 25 last year when Nathaniel Leckie, 36, Tyler Tucker, 20, and Jordell Keegan, 19, broke into their flat in Altrincham wearing balaclavas.
The dad-of-one previously told the M.E.N one of the men had been carrying a machete, another a ratchet and the third a firearm. Shocking CCTV footage shows the thugs breaking through a window at the flat on Lloyds Gardens.
After arming himself with a baseball bat, Jack managed to strike one of the intruders before fleeing to his fiancée and son. At that point he said one of the burglars held a 'gun to his head' an demanded cash and jewellery from him. The trio then attacked the family dog, Cilla, leaving her so badly injured she lost her eye.
The three men were charged with aggravated burglary a month after the incident in September 2021 and were sentenced at Minshull Street Crown Court on Monday (10 May). Nathaniel Leckie, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to eleven years imprisonment after being convicted by a jury of aggravated burglary.
Tyler Tucker, also of no fixed abode, was sentenced to eight years and three months in a youth detention centre, and Jordell Keegan, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to seven years and four months in youth detention. Both men pleaded guilty to the same charge.
All three men will serve half of their sentence in custody before being released on licence.
The businessman who sped through a pedestrian crossing and killed a beloved father and his dog
A businessman has been jailed after he accelerated over a pedestrian crossing at 20mph over the speed limit, killing a pensioner and his pet dog. Ben Trigger, 29, was convicted following a trial last month of causing death by dangerous driving.
Trigger, who had twice previously been banned for drink-driving, was at the wheel of his Ford Ranger pick-up truck when it struck Abdelkader Dhrif, 70, on the A580 East Lancashire Road in Worsley, Salford, at 3.30pm on November 20, 2019. Abdelkader and his pet dog, Maisie, died.
Mr Dhrif was on the crossing with his dog while it was on red for pedestrians and green for motorists at the junction with Ellenbrook Road and Newearth Road. But following a trial last month a jury convicted Trigger, of Merton Grove, Astley, Wigan, of causing his death by dangerous driving after two hours of deliberations.
He was accelerating at the time and was travelling at 60mph, 20mph above the speed limit. Jailing Trigger for two years and six months, Judge Conrad QC told the defendant: "You killed a man because you were driving too fast in all the circumstances. Had you not been driving too fast, he would not have died."
Trigger was also banned from driving for three years and two months and was ordered to pay £2,000 towards prosecution costs.
‘Devious' paedophile targeted and abused two girls - and encouraged girlfriend to get involved
A ‘devious and depraved’ paedophile targeted and abused two girls - and encouraged his girlfriend to get involved. John Mills, 38, and Tiffany Eccles, 27, have both been jailed for their part in a vile catalogue of child sex offences.
Minshull Street Crown Court heard that the first victim reported the abuse at school after becoming upset, and disclosed that Mills, of Bury, had raped her in ‘various forms’ and sexually assaulted her over the course of five years. She said that she was under ten-years-old when the abuse began, and said she knew it was wrong but was too young to realise how serious the offending was.
Mills pleaded guilty to multiple counts of rape of a child under 13; sexual assault; causing a child to engage in sexual activity and performing sexual activity in front of a child. He was said to have previous convictions for assault and criminal damage.
Mills, of Rochdale Old Road, was sentenced to a total of 19 years and three months imprisonment with an extended period of two years on licence. He must serve around 12 years and eight months in prison before he is considered for release by the Parole Board.
Eccles, of Moss Row, was jailed for seven years and two months. Both Mills and Eccles were handed restraining orders against their victims, made subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order must sign the Sex Offenders Register, all which will run indefinitely.
Disgusting pervert who tried to groom a number of children online
A Manchester paedophile who tried to groom a number of children online - including while on police bail - has been locked up for ten years. Rachel Fenton, previously known as Richard Fenton, of Bideford Drive, Wythenshawe, was sentenced on Monday (9 May) at Manchester Crown Court after pleading guilty to 21 child sex offences and a drug offence, including seven counts of attempting to incite a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity.
Officers also found a number of indecent images of children including a large amount of child sexual abuse images and photos of young children on their devices, which were seized. Fenton, 45, was originally reported by an online vigilante group in November 2020, who said they had been communicating with them using a fake profile of a 12-year-old girl.
Not knowing it was a fake profile, Fenton tried to incite the girl to engage in sexual activity and send videos, and sent the profile indecent images and tried to encourage the believed girl to engage in sexual activity with a child aged six. He pleaded guilty to 21 child sex offences. Fenton also been issued with a sexual harm prevention order and been made to sign the sex offenders register for life.
Mum living 'chaotic' life locked up AGAIN for hurling abuse at 999 operator
A mum from Ashton has been jailed after hurling homophobic abuse at a 999 operator. Jane Readman, 49, called Zayn Ahmed a "fa***t" and told him to "f*** off" when he was unable to tell her why police were patrolling outside her home.
Readman blamed her outburst on the wrong dosage of medication, mental health issues, heavy drinking and the grief of losing her mother. The court heard she had made the abusive 999 call in February last year after spotting officers near her her address.
She got through to Mr Ahmed and asked him why police were there but then became abusive to him saying: ''f*** off you f****t.'' Readman was detained later but whilst being kept in a cell at Cheadle police station she lashed out at a policewoman who was trying to help her put on a vest.
In what a judge described as a ''telling and pragmatic'' statement, Mr Ahmed, who works for Greater Manchester Police, said he had become immune to the abuse because he thought perpetrators of ''hate'' comments were unlikely to change. Readman, who has 103 previous offences on her record, has been in and out prison for various offences including violence, having a bladed article and racially aggravated threatening behaviour.
At Minshull Street Crown Court, Readman was jailed for 16 weeks after she admitted sending a malicious communications and assaulting an emergency worker. She was convicted at an earlier hearing of common assault and attacking three police officers who arrested her for spitting in the face of a fellow customer in a corner shop.
'Festive Ape' unmasked as cocaine dealer with £9m gang after 'nightmare' arrest
A cocaine dealer who worked with a organised crime gang which laundered £9 million in dirty money in just three months has been locked up for almost a decade. Nathan Powell, 31, was unmasked as the man operating the EncroChat handle 'Festive Ape' when law enforcement were able to hack in to the previously untraceable messaging network.
He was linked to drugs boss Leon Atkinson, a friend of cop killer Dale Cregan who was found to have prison letters from the murderer when police raided his home. Powell, from Openshaw, and another man, 37-year-old Adam Marsden, acted as 'distributors' below 'regional' cocaine supplier Atkinson.
Atkinson, 44, was linked to at least 28 kilos of cocaine. Marsden was linked to 12 kilos and Powell to 13 kilos. Atkinson took on 13 kilos of the 30 kilos robbed in an underworld heist at the stashhouse of a notorious Liverpool gang.
After the Cox crime family struck in Merseyside, Powell picked up the drugs on Atkinson's behalf in a handover near Manchester City's training ground. Two other men acted as couriers for the outfit. 'Hard up' Rochdale taxi driver Romiz Ahmed laundered nearly £2 million for crime bosses, and Abdul Ghafar, 46, was linked to almost £6.5 million.
Powell was jailed for nine years and eight months. Marsden previously received the same sentence, while Atkinson was sentenced to 15 years. Ghafar was locked up for eight years and eight months, while Ahmed received six years. Atkinson, of Brindley Close, Atherton, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
Ghafar, of Halifax Road, Nelson; Marsden, of Taunton Avenue, Rochdale; Powell, of Cheney Close, Openshaw; admitted one count of conspiracy to supply class A drugs. All four men admitted conspiracy to transfer criminal property. Ahmed, of Rossall Road, Rochdale, was found guilty after trial of being concerned in an arrangement which facilitated the acquisition, retention, use of control of criminal property by others.
Drugs boss found with prison letters from pal Dale Cregan when police raided his home
A drugs boss had prison letters from one-eyed cop killer Dale Cregan in a bedside draw when police raided his home. Leon Atkinson, 44, stood trial accused of murder nearly ten years ago alongside his pal Cregan but was acquitted.
Atkinson is now beginning a 15 year sentence, though, after being unmasked as a 'regional supplier' for a huge cocaine gang peddling drugs imported to the UK. During a search of his home in Atherton, officers found 'prison letters addressed to Aki from Dale Cregan', Manchester Crown Court heard.
He sold on drugs imported into the UK by a contact was linked to at least 28 kilos of cocaine. Atkinson took on 13 kilos of the 30 kilos of cocaine stolen in an audacious armed robbery at the stashhouse of a notorious Liverpool gang.
Two men were seriously injured after members of the Cox crime gang struck in a meticulously planned heist. The handover of the 13 kilos took place near Manchester City's training ground. Defending, Brett Weaver appealed to the sentencing judge not to sentence Atkinson on 'the basis of any reputation he may have'. He described Atkinson as a 'middle man' or 'broker'.
Atkinson has now been sentenced to 15 years in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and conspiracy to transfer criminal property.