In 2015, there were a number of incidents as a result of a dispute between two Salford organised crime groups who called themselves the ‘A Team’ and ‘Anti-A Team’. The incidents were all investigated as part of ‘Operation Leopard’, led by detectives from GMP’s Major Incident Team.
These sentences are the culmination of Operation Leopard: Phase Three. Under phases One and Two, 11 members of organised crime groups were jailed in connection with linked incidents including the murders of Paul Massey and John Kinsella and the shootings of seven-year-old Christian Hickey Junior and his mother, Jayne.
The first incident investigated as part of Operation Leopard: Phase Three happened on Wednesday 18 February 2015 on Doveleys Road. Three men were in a parked car when three shots were fired – at point blank range – into the driver’s door. Police later found a hidden tracker on the Mercedes.
The second happened on Friday 21 March 2015 on Brattice Drive. Two other men were near one of their cars when they were attacked with a machete and a baseball bat. One of them was seriously injured and could have been killed if it was not for an off duty nurse who administered first aid. Police later found a hidden tracker on the Volkswagen.
The jury was told how both incidents were planned ambushes of members of the A Team by members of the Anti-A Team.
Key to the investigations were the forensic examinations of the trackers found on the vehicles – the DNA of Aaron Parkin, of HMP Manchester, was found on one of the devices.
Telephone analysis also linked Parkin to the purchase, deployment and monitoring of both devices.
CCTV from Parkin’s home showed Mark Fellows , of HMP Wakefield, was there when a tracker was monitored in the lead up to one of the incidents.
Following a six week trial, a jury found Fellows guilty of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm in connection with the second incident. Parkin previously pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm in connection with both incidents.
Today (Friday 13 November 2020), a judge at Manchester Crown Court sentenced Fellows to life with a minimum term of nine years and Parkin to 14 years.
Detective Chief Inspector Carl Jones, Senior Investigating Officer for Operation Leopard, said: “The men, convicted under the three phases of Operation Leopard, were from both sides of the dispute but had something in common – violent, dangerous behaviour and disregard for the safety of the public as well as the law. I hope that this case has demonstrated that no one is untouchable – even organised criminals, who – naively – believe they are.
“Today’s result is of great significance to communities in Salford, many of which have been blighted by violent incidents over the years. GMP will not tolerate this and I would like to reiterate our commitment to fighting organised crime across all 10 boroughs.
“Operation Leopard has been complex and, at times, placed unprecedented demand on the investigation team – OCGs rely heavily on a “No Grass” culture which they try to enforce by putting people in fear of violence. The investigation has not only focussed on gathering evidence but also on protecting individuals who we felt were particularly at risk. A tremendous amount of this work was completed by the Salford district’s safeguarding team – to put that in to context, they safeguarded more than 300 adults. I proudly commend them for their dedication.
“Finally, I would like to use this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has helped us with Operation Leopard. As well as colleagues from GMP, this includes Salford Council; the Crown Prosecution Service; and both HMP Manchester and Wakefield. Most importantly, courageous members of the public who came forward and provided vital evidence – to date, they have enabled us to prosecute and secure the convictions of 12 dangerous criminals.”