Gang jailed for 28 years for drug and gun offences

A criminal gang involved with drug dealing and guns who were caught out after a lengthy police operation have been jailed for more than 28 years.

Tuesday, 9th February 2021, 1:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th February 2021, 1:40 pm

Matthew King, Jake Rigby and Luke Skinner were arrested after a "detailed investigation" by police in May of last year, Leeds Crown Court was told.

Two cars were seen to meet in a side street in Normanton, one containing two men who were eventually acquitted, the other containing King and Skinner.

A Skoda containing King and Skinner was stopped on Cannon Street in Castleford.

The gang was jailed for more than 28 years. Pictured is King (left), Rigby (top right) and Skinner.

Police found a working semi-automatic handgun under a seat with, along with ammunition.

Face covering and gloves were also found in the car.

A knife was found in a Volkswagen that was stopped on Chantry Bridge in Wakefield.

The gun had come from the home of Rigby, the court was told, where a second gun was found also with ammunition.

Police found telephone evidence on a phone owned by King that he was involved in the drugs trade at a high level across the UK.

Cocaine was also found at Skinner's home, who police said was a "trusted lieutenant" of King in the drugs trade, picking up and dropping off drugs in large amounts.

Rigby had also been involved with the drugs with mixing bowls and diluents found at his home with which to cut the cocaine ready to be sold on.

All three defendants appeared at Leeds Crown Court via video link from HMP Leeds.

King, 36, of Dale Side, Dewsbury, had initially denied the charges but changed his pleas to guilty two days into a trial at Leeds Crown Court.

He admitted possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, possessing a firearm and possessing ammunition without a certificate.

Skinner, 24, of Laithe Croft, Batley, was found guilty after a trial of possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and possessing ammunition without a certificate.

He admitted possession of cocaine with an intent to supply.

Rigby, 21, of Bradford Road, Gildersome, was found guilty after a trial of possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, possessing a second firearm and two counts of possessing of ammunition without a certificate.

He admitted possession of cocaine with an intent to supply.

In mitigation, King, who is already serving a six-year sentence for drug dealing, was permitted to read out a statement he had prepared.

He described his time in jail as the "hardest time" of his life and it had broken him physically and mentally. He said that he had learned his lesson.

Mitigating for Skinner, Rodney Ferm said he had a decent start in life and had been a hard worker before he became involved in crime.

He said that he has also become a model prisoner during his time on remand at HMP Leeds.

Stephen Uttley, mitigating for Rigby said he was not a sophisticated criminal who was "clearly being used by the others" to store weapons.

Judge Neil Clark told King that his role was "significant" and had played a leading role.

His DNA was found on the weapons and phone records showed he had organised whatever was to happen with the gun in the car on the day the police stopped them.

He described him as a "professional criminal" who was "operating relatively high up the chain."

King was jailed for 11 years.

Judge Clark jailed Skinner for nine years and Rigby for eight years and four months.

Detective Chief Inspector Jon Key of Programme Precision, said: “Members of the public will have seen officers on May 18 last year carrying out searches and making arrests and now those proceedings have come to an end.

“What people won’t have seen is the painstaking work by Programme Precision officers and colleagues leading up to the arrests that went into bringing these men to justice.

“Illegal firearms and drugs can cause misery to the communities we serve and I am proud of my team in helping to make the streets of West Yorkshire a safer place.

“And to those who choose to involve themselves in these types of offences – the message is clear – we will take action against you and you will face the full consequences of the criminal justice system.”