A DETERMINED undercover police operation unearthed an organised criminal gang prepared to use weapons to inflict violence and terrorise their victims. On Thursday, the gang members were starting jail sentences totalling more than 56 years as a judge praised the police and said their work had prevented serious harm to many people and their property.
“The focused, determined and hugely effective covert operation – Operation Trimeter – targeted the activities of a criminal gang operating in North East Wales,” Judge Geraint Walters, told Mold Crown Court.”
On Thursday, the head of the gang which terrorised people, including one family forced to flee their home, was jailed for 14 years.
William (Billy) Smith, 45, was hired to intimidate the family who had to leave home for their own safety.
Smith’s 10-strong gang received sentences ranging from 18 months to 10 years.
Judge Walters said: “The evidence the police managed to unearth during the operation, established that an organised gang was operating in that part of Wales whose activities involved, among other things, supplying drugs, carrying out beatings, and inflicting damage to property.
“Of particular concern is that this gang had access to a sawn-off shotgun and ammunition.
“There is evidence they were prepared to accept commissions to inflict violence on property in return for money or drugs.
Billy Smith was hired to intimidate a family in Ponciau, apparently over a parking row in a cul-de-sac.
After a petrol bomb attempt on their car, it was damaged with bricks, and windows were smashed in their home, forcing them to move out for their own safety.
Smith had been hired by the victims’ neighbour, Trevor Daniel Jones. Smith also conspired with him to have the ex-boyfriend of Jones’ partner attacked, but police prevented it.
Another man was intimidated when his vehicle was fired at with a shotgun.
In Operation Trimeter, officers placed probes in Smith’s vehicle and listened as they planned their crimes, said prosecutor John Philpotts.
Smith and ten others admitted a series of offences.
Smith, of Oxford Street, Wrexham, was given sentences totalling 14 years after he admitted handling a stolen shotgun, conspiring to commit damage to Craig Lovell’s property, possession of a prohibited weapon, possessing of a weapon while prohibited, conspiracy to commit arson at the Williams’ home in Ponciau, conspiracy to commit damage at their home, conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis, conspiracy to inflict GBH with intent on Ben Walters, and possessing a knuckleduster on his arrest. Smith was also jailed for admitting at an earlier court hearing to firebombing a car in Church Stoke, Montgomery, in 2013.
Judge Walters told him: “You are a committed criminal and a potentially dangerous one.”
Ronnie Williams, 23, of Glan Gors, Wrexham, who admitted handing the stolen shotgun, conspiring to damage Mr Lovell’s property, possession of a shotgun when prohibited, and possessing a sawn-off shotgun was given a total of seven years.
Harry Williams, 21, of Wern Las, Rhos, admitted handling the shotgun, possessing a sawn-off shotgun and possessing it when prohibited. He was jailed for five years. The judge said his own cocaine habit had led him into criminal activity.
Dziewiatkowski, 21, of Smithfield Road, Wrexham, admitted conspiring to commit arson, conspiracy to commit damage, conspiring to supply drugs, conspiring to inflict GBH and possessing an extendable baton on his arrest and was jailed for 10 years. The judge said he was willing to engage in “acts of terrorising”.
Trevor Daniel Jones, 32, a mechanic, of Park Road, Ponciau, admitted conspiracy to commit arson and conspiracy to commit damage at the home of his neighbours, and conspiring to inflict GBH, and was jailed for eight years. The judge said he was a man of previous good character yet had fallen “head over heels into criminal enterprise”.
Andrew Owen, 31, of Maes y Ficerdi, Rhos, admitted conspiracy to damage the Williams’ property and was jailed for 18 months.
Ricky Lee Jones, 26, of Ffordd Llanerch, Penycae, admitted conspiring to damage the Williams’ property and was jailed for two years after the judge told him his downfall was drink and drugs.
Natalie Edwards, 34, of Oxford Street, Wrexham, admitted conspiring to supply drugs and was jailed for two years. The judge told her she was engaged in an “evil and wicked trade”.
Nathan Richards, 26, of School Lane, Ponciau, admitted being concerned in the supply of cocaine and was sentenced to four years after the judge described his role as “significant”.
Jack Pritchard, 24, Heol y Ffynnon, Bradley, admitted being concerned in an offer to supply cocaine. He was given 12 months in jail suspended for two years but walked free because he had already been held in custody for the equivalent of a 12-month prison sentence.
Daniel Michael Goodwin, 24, of Ash Grove, Chirk, admitted transferring ammunition to a prohibited person and was given two years in jail.
Consideration of criminal behaviour orders was adjourned.
The judge said: “Police officers investigating this case need to be commended.”