Junior member of Oldham burglary gang is given suspended sentence

A MEMBER of an Oldham gang who committed more than 50 burglary and robbery offences across the north has avoided jail after a judge decided to give him a second chance. Eleven members of the violent gang, which stole more than GBP1m worth of goods, were jailed for a total of more than 116 years in March following Operation Hansford - a proactive investigation by officers from GMP Oldham's Challenger Team. Between July 2018 and May 2019, the group of criminals committed a total of 58 burglary and robbery offences across Greater Manchester, Derbyshire, West and South Yorkshire and Lancashire.

The gang would target both private homes and commercial buildings, often committing up to four or five offences a night. Kieran Pollitt, 23, of Milnrow Precinct, Milnrow, had pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit burglary, but was found guilty following a trial and appeared at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court for sentencing. Jane Greenhalgh, prosecuting, said Pollitt had taken part in a raid in December 2018 on DMC Distribution in New Mills during which protein products worth GBP20,000 had been stolen and GBP3,000 damage was caused.

Other members of the gang had made an earlier trip to the premises where the joint was cased and it was decided what they could take and Pollitt was part of a group who returned in a convoy of vehicles which were filled with the protein products. Many of the items were recovered from gang member Robert Kelsall's house on Timperley Close, Fitton Hill. In a victim personal impact statement, DMC managing director Howard Cooper said the burglary had a "devastating impact" on the business and caused "wider community implications".

Tom Sherrington, defending, said no one was in the building at the time of the offence and there were no threats of violence as had been the case in some of the other gang's crimes which Pollitt had not been involved in. Mr Sherrington said: "The defendant's role in this offence was significantly limited and he was subordinate compared to the other more seasoned offenders who were involved. "Bearing in mind the other characters involved his was role was a subordinate one and took place under the duress of others."

Pollitt was supposed to have been paid GBP70 by a cousin to carry out his part, but Mr Sherrington said he never received this because he did not fix a truck that was used in the raid. In total, around GBP1.5million worth of property was stolen by the gang and approximately GBP230,000 worth of damage was caused to properties -both commercial and residential - in the lead up to the groups arrests. When committing the offences, the offenders would use machetes, sledge hammers and crow bars to force entry, and would use these weapons to threaten both members of the public and police officers when challenged.

Using stolen cars, the group would ram-raid properties in order to gain entry, showing a total disregard for the safety of others. On one occasion, officers stopped a vehicle for displaying false number plates, unaware that the occupants had just burgled a commercial property where they forced entry by using sledge hammers to smash through a wall. The offenders stopped the car and two men emerged from the rear passenger seats wearing masks and savagely attacked the police vehicle with sledge hammers.

"There is evidence that Mr Pollitt wasn't aware of any of the additional offences being carried out," said Mr Sherrington. "This was a gang who often contacted each other to plan the offences but Mr Pollitt was not involved in any of that phone contact other than the day in question." Mr Sherrington added that Pollitt, who had no previous convictions, was a "well-rounded individual who is down to earth and has a good work ethic but comes across as rather naive." "He is educated, well-qualified and has worked throughout his life," added Mr Sherrington. "After his conviction he set up his own jet-washing business which is doing very well.

He has a very bright future." Judge Bernadette Baxter said: "As a fledgling businessman yourself you must know the hard work it takes to set up a business and for somebody to come in the middle of the night and take away what you have worked hard for is unlawful, thoroughly dispiriting, uncivilised and deserving of punishment. "Some would say you richly deserve to go to custody but I accept you were just an extra pair of hands and no more than that and did not know the full extent of this conspiracy and the true wickedness of those you were with."

Judge Baxter handed Pollitt a two year sentence suspended for two years and imposed a three month curfew between 7pm and 7am.

"If you want a life of prison and courts and police stations follow their lead," she added. "If you don't, go back to the path you were on, working hard and living a decent life.

Anybody who took one look at Ryan Stewart (a core member of the gang, who was sentenced to16 years in prison) would know he was somebody to be involved and if your cousins have closer connections with him than they should, you separate yourself from them."

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