Two men from Salford, with links to an organised crime group, have been jailed after being found by police to have discarded a loaded firearm in Eccles during a police chase in May 2019.
Both James Saunders from Weaste and Adam Buckley from Eccles were sentenced yesterday (Thursday 28 January) at Manchester Crown Court (Crown Square) after pleading guilty to the following:
– Possession of a loaded firearm in a public place;
– Money laundering;
– Possession with intent to supply class A drugs.
James Saunders, of Stowell Street, was sentenced to 11 years in custody after also pleading guilty to possession of a prohibited weapon, namely an electric stun gun; handling stolen goods; disqualified driving; failing to appear at court.
Adam Buckley, of Bradfield Avenue, was jailed for three years and six months.
The court heard how Saunders and Buckley were caught by police on Tuesday 28 May 2019 when they were seen acting suspiciously by police on Liverpool Road.
Both men were seen going into a shop – which was later established by CCTV as them hiding from a patrolling police car – before reappearing and making off in a Red Honda Civic.
An officer on patrol pulled over the vehicle a short distance further down Liverpool Road when Buckley began to make off from him.
Buckley was later found to have hidden a bag in a tree which was found to contain a loaded firearm, drugs and cash – with detectives able to forensically link the firearm to Saunders.
The officer then came across the Honda a short time later and asked the vehicle to stop, when it became apparent that Saunders had also alighted from the car.
Both men were later caught and arrested and taken to custody where they were questioned about the black bag containing the loaded firearm, which was confirmed to be a Colt 1908 .25 automatic.
The court also heard how police had already been looking for Saunders after he had previously failed to appear in court after possessing an electric stun gun in Merseyside in December 2018 and had on another occasion driven a stolen Ford Focus while disqualified.
Due to the substantial evidence detectives from Salford’s Operation Arctic – GMP’s wider response to organised crime in Salford – had collated during their investigation, both Saunders and Buckley pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 11 years and three-and-a-half years respectively.
Detective Sergeant Daniel Worthington, of GMP’s Salford Operation Arctic, said: “These are two hugely significant results in our continued pursuit of disrupting and ultimately removing organised crime from the streets of Salford.
“It is utterly inconceivable to many that two young men can go out on our streets in broad daylight with a loaded weapon with a feeling that they are so above the law that they won’t be caught – they were foolish in thinking this would be the case.
“It is thanks to some thoroughly good policing from our patrolling officer PC Mottram – as recognised and commended by the judge – that Saunders and Buckley were both initially identified and then later caught, and that their criminal stash of items were recovered from the tree they were hidden in.
“Due to the intelligence we had received and other incidents we were aware of involving Saunders, we were able to establish an effective and accurate picture of his criminality that was vital in ensuring such a lengthy spell for him behind bars.
“We continue to make some really positive strides in Salford with our work alongside local partners and the cooperation of the public to keep acting on the information we are provided to ensure that we do all that is necessary to keep criminals off our streets.”