Appeal judges increase jail terms for trio linked to ‘organised crime group’

Three men linked to “organised” crime who were convicted of possessing a Glock handgun have had their jail terms increased by appeal judges after a challenge by Solicitor General Michael Tomlinson.
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Three appeal judges concluded that sentences handed to Craig Walker, 41, Jacob Smith, 22, and Ian Wharmby, 30, in March after a trial at Manchester Crown Court were unduly lenient.

Lady Justice Carr, Mr Justice Jay and Mr Justice Butcher considered Mr Tomlinson’s challenge at a Court of Appeal hearing in London on Tuesday.

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Jacob Smith top right, and Craig Walker and Ian Wharmby, on the bottom row, with Dominic Hughes and Aaron Gray, who were also jailedJacob Smith top right, and Craig Walker and Ian Wharmby, on the bottom row, with Dominic Hughes and Aaron Gray, who were also jailed
Jacob Smith top right, and Craig Walker and Ian Wharmby, on the bottom row, with Dominic Hughes and Aaron Gray, who were also jailed
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They increased Walker’s six-year jail term to eight years, increased Smith’s term of six years and six months to eight years and six months, and increased Wharmby’s term of three years and six months to five years and four months.

Trial judge Nicholas Dean had imposed jail terms after Walker, of Warrington Road, Wigan, was found guilty of possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life; Smith, of no fixed abode, was found guilty of possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life; and Wharmby, of no fixed abode, was found guilty of possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear.

Wharmby also pleaded guilty to possession of drugs with intent to supply.

Tom Little KC, who represented Mr Tomlinson, had argued that the original sentences were unduly lenient.

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He told appeal judges that the case centred on an “ongoing dispute” between two groups.

Mr Little said there had been a “conspiracy” and the case involved a “high level” of “serious and organised” crime.

Lawyers representing the three men argued that the original sentences were not unduly lenient and said Mr Tomlinson’s challenge should be dismissed.

Greater Manchester Police had said in March that the three men, and others, were linked to an “organised crime group” and involved in disputes with “other criminals”.

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A spokesman had said: “Following an alleged attack on a family friend, Jacob Smith decided to purchase a gun and take matters into his own hands.”

He said evidence showed that shots had been fired at properties in late 2019 and early 2020 and police had executed a warrant at an address connected to Wharmby in April 2020.