Wigan's week in court

The latest round-up of those who have appeared before Wigan magistrates and in the dock at crown court.
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Three men have been charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs after being arrested during dawn raids.

Warrants were executed at houses in Wigan, Formby and Kirkby at 6am on Tuesday, June 6 by officers from Merseyside Police’s Project Medusa and Wigan’s Challenger Organised Crime teams.

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They found a cultivation of cannabis plants, cannabis, phones and £2,000.

Wigan and Leigh courtWigan and Leigh court
Wigan and Leigh court

The warrants were part of an investigation into the supply of class A drugs by an organised crime group operating the “Scouse Jonno’” county line between Liverpool and Wigan.

Craig Gee, 44, of Alder Avenue, Worsley Hall, Thomas Prior, 32, of Victoria Road, Formby, and Mark Keogh, 35, of North Mount Road, Kirkby, were charged with conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

Gee was also charged with production of cannabis, Prior was charged with possession of cannabis and possession of criminal property, and Keogh was charged with possession of cannabis.

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They were remanded in custody and will appear at Liverpool Crown Court on Wednesday, July 5.

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A man has admitted to groping a woman at a Wigan railway station.

Brian Snowden, 51, of First Avenue, Springfield, appeared before borough justices to plead guilty to sexually touching a female over 16 without consent at North Western Station on May 21 last year.

He is to be the subject of an electronically-tagged night-time curfew for eight weeks, must undergo mental health treatment and complete 30 days of rehabilitation activities.

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Snowden’s punishment also includes signing on the Sex Offenders' Register for five years, he must also pay his victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, compensation as well as fork out court fees and a victim services surcharge which together come to £299.

A Wigan woman has been accused of allowing two cats to starve to death.

Donna Laithwaite, 48, of The Lawns in Hindley, appeared at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court charged with failing to provide adequate nutrition for two tabbies found dead at a house in Derby Street, Wigan, on October 11 2021.

She is also accused of neglecting a tabby and white cat called Bobby by failing to get him treated for a mite and flea infestation in the weeks up to that date and thus causing the pet unnecessary suffering.

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A third charge of not feeding, providing parasitic control or a suitable environment for all three animals, nor attending to them regularly, has also been brought against her.

Laithwaite is being prosecuted under the 2006 Animal Welfare Act and has yet to enter pleas.

The case was adjourned until June 23 before which time the defendant has been released on unconditional bail.

A young Wigan woman has been fined more than £1,000 for driving an uninsured car.

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Manchester and Salford magistrates heard that Chloe Lawton, 26, of Corfe Close, Aspull, was at the wheel of an Audi Q5 on Bury New Road, Prestwich, on September 30 last year without third party cover.

She was fined and must also pay a victim services surcharge and court costs, bringing her bill to £1,568.

A former Wigan election candidate has been convicted of harassment in his absence following a court no-show.

Alain Baines had been due to stand trial at Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court earlier this month, having denied a campaign of intimidation of Jason Metcalfe between April and September last year, namely that he repeatedly swore, laughed, shouted and stared at him.

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But after failing to turn up for the first day of the scheduled three-day hearing, a warrant was issued for the 66-year-old's arrest and Judge Hirst found him guilty in his absence.

Baines, of Alderley Road, Hindley, was later arrested and brought to court where he was remanded on conditional bail while pre-sentence reports are prepared and he is set to learn his fate on July 28.

This is not Baines’s first brush with the law.

In August 2021 he was given a community punishment after being convicted of attacking a neighbour by grabbing him by the throat in what was described as a homophobic attack.

He had pleaded not guilty to a single charge of assaulting Daniel Thompson by beating 12 months earlier.

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Baines also fell foul of Wigan Council when, during litter picks in 2018, he also cut back trees and plants, prompting a warning letter from the town hall.

Baines stood as an independent candidate in Wigan's 2021 local elections.

The trial of a Wigan man who denies throttling a woman has been delayed by a month.

Matthew Griffin, of Kimberley Street in Springfield, had been due to face a June 12 hearing at the borough's magistrates' court after pleading not guilty to assaulting the named person by beating in Hindley on December 28 and intentionally strangling her two days later.

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But the case has now been delayed until July 18 before which he remains on conditional bail.

Griffin has admitted to damaging a door – to the tune of £100 – belonging to the same complainant on December 29 and will be dealt with for that at the end of the trial.

A borough 35-year-old is awaiting his fate after admitting to attacking and harassing a woman.

Scott Higgins, of Kirkhall Lane, Leigh, had initially denied assaulting Cathy Kenny in Wigan on December 10, 2022 and to using threatening, insulting or abusive words or behaviour against her 20 days later.

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But at his latest appearance before borough magistrates he changed his pleas to guilty.

Higgins maintained his innocence of assaulting three other people by beating on December 10 and the bench cleared him of these offences.

But he was released on bail, conditional that he has no contact with any of the prosecution witnesses, until July 25 when he will be sentenced at the same court.

A man has appeared before Wigan justices to admit to making and possessing indecent images of children.

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Daniel Healey, 33, of Crossfield Road, Skelmersdale, had been charged with possessing 52 prohibited pictures of youngsters and creating indecent images of a child, 10 of which were deemed to fall into the second most serious category (B) and 11 that were judged category C.

The defendant had denied possessing a pornographic image involving an obscene act with a horse and this charge was dismissed by the bench.

He was released on unconditional bail until he is sentenced on July 25.

A man accused of killing a Wigan dad in a road smash as he walked home in the early hours of New Year’s Day last year has made his first appearance in court.

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Jamie Evans, 30, of no fixed address, is charged with causing the death of Gareth Roper by dangerous driving.

He stood before Wigan and Leigh magistrates for a brief hearing during which the charge was put to him and he confirmed his personal details.

Mr Roper, a 35-year-old rugby player from Bryn, was in collision with a vehicle on Lily Lane, Bamfurlong, just hours into 2022.

How he came to be there is the subject of a separate investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

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Earlier that night police were called to his home over reports of a domestic incident there.

Mr Roper was arrested for a breach of the peace and put in the back of the police van without any shoes on.

Allegations have been made that he was then taken to Platt Bridge where he was assaulted by officers, de-arrested and abandoned in the town centre to make his way home several miles to Bryn in his bare feet.

It was while making this journey that the fatal crash took place.

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In February Wigan Today reported that the IOPC had completed a probe into the circumstances leading up to Mr Roper’s death and it said that there could be a case to answer for those officers involved.

It has since referred the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service.

At the court hearing Evans was released on unconditional bail pending a first appearance before a Bolton Crown Court judge on July 19 for a pre-trial preparation hearing.

No plea has yet been entered.

A Wigan man has appeared before justices accused of deliberately setting a dog on a woman, causing her serious injuries.

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Police say the victim was savaged in Windermere Road, Ince, on Sunday June 11.

Liam Rainy, 26, of Battersby Street, Ince, was charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent – the most serious form of assault after attempted murder - and being in possession of a dog dangerously out of control when he stood before Manchester and Salford magistrates on June 15.

He is remanded in custody until he makes his first appearance before a Bolton Crown Court judge on July 19.

After he was charged, a spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said “The dog has since been safely detained and is being cared for by animal welfare professionals.

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“This charge is a result of an investigation into an incident that took place on Windermere Road in Wigan on Sunday June 11 where the injuries sustained were believed to be serious.”

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to ring police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

A Wigan motorist is facing a four figure bill after not revealing who was at the wheel of his car when it was involved in an alleged offence.

Dale Bannister, 27, from Platt Bridge, failed to disclose the identity of the driver of his Volkswagen Passat when required on September 14 last year, Manchester and Salford magistrates heard.

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As a result he was ordered to pay a fine, court costs and a victim services surcharge which came to £1,014.

A Wigan man has denied selling drugs in South Wales.

Benjamin Cunliffe, 32, of Bryn Street, Wigan, appeared before borough justices to deny supplying cannabis in Gwent between August 7 and September 19 2022.

He was remanded into custody to appear next before a Newport Crown Court judge on July 12.

A Wigan thug who subjected a woman to 18 months of domestic abuse has been jailed for more than three and a half years.

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Manchester Crown Court heard that Luke Coleman's victim was injured multiple times by the control freak, who also threatened her, took and spent her money, restricted her bank card, mobile phone use and social media use and even forced her to take a lie detector test to prove she wasn't cheating on him.

The 28-year-old, who has formerly lived in both Norley and Leigh, and more recently of Valley View, Chorley, had initially faced six charges, comprising four counts of causing actual bodily harm, one of sexual assault by penetration and one of coercive and controlling behaviour.

He had initially denied everything but on the first day of his trial, he pleaded guilty to three of the assaults and the controlling behaviour and the judge ruled that the other two offences would then lie on file.

He has now been sent to prison for 43 months from which 49 days spent on electronically tagged curfew will be deducted.

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The court heard that Coleman's reign of terror lasted from October 2020 to April 2022 during which time the three assaults to which he confessed involved the victim suffering a head injury, a wound to her ear and a dislocated finger.

His controlling and coercive behaviour over that period was broken down into 10 parts:

  • He used or threatened to use physical violence towards her.
  • Threatened to use physical violence towards her family.
  • Threatened to damage her family’s property.
  • Was verbally abusive towards her, called her offensive names and accused her of being unfaithful.
  • Would continuously call her and send her large volumes of messages.
  • Monitored her whereabouts by making her film her surroundings during video calls to prove she was where she said she was.
  • Would take and use her money.
  • Restricted her access to her bank card and her mobile phone by carrying her belongings on his person.
  • Restricted her access to her friends on social media, specifically Facebook.
  • Made her participate in a polygraph examination to prove that she was not being unfaithful.

Coleman already had a grim criminal record which includes being jailed for three years and two months in 2018 for threatening to stab a Marsh Green shop assistant during a robbery and hitting a man over the head with a plank of wood during a brawl on Wigan's King Street.

A Wigan 30-year-old who admitted to an horrific attack on a woman and other offences has been spared an immediate jail term.

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Nathan Dawber, of Rivington Drive, Bickershaw, appeared before a Bolton Crown Court judge, having previously pleaded guilty to launching a vicious attack, producing cannabis and breaching bail.

Dawber had been charged with intending to cause Brogan Redford grievous bodily harm on March 26 last year.

The drug charge relates to an incident a day later. He was sentenced to nine months in prison but the term was suspended for 18 months.

He must also complete 15 days of rehabilitation activities and observe a three-month, electronically-tagged curfew that confines him to his home between the hours of 9pm and 7am.

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A Wigan teenager has finally admitted to mugging two other boys of their phones.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared before borough justices to change previous not guilty pleas to robbing the victims on May 31 2021 to guilty. He also admitted to causing one of the boys actual bodily harm on the same occasion.

His punishment involved being referred to the Bury/Rochdale youth offending panel for a 12-month contract.

He was ordered to pay court costs and a victim services surcharge totalling £222, but no order was made to compensate the victims, the court being told that so much time has passed since the crimes took place that there was hope that the victims have been able to "move on" and don't want weekly payments of compensation as a reminder.