Four men arrested in a police sting after stolen goods and drugs were sold to undercover cops in Burnley have been jailed.
The town’s crown court heard how televisions, laptops, mobile phones, computer games, DVDs, quad bikes bought as Christmas presents for two boys and a little girl’s bicycle and helmet, were among thousands of pounds worth of property taken in break-ins at homes and businesses in East Lancashire.
Loot was offered, sometimes within hours, for cash to two officers who had set up a stall on Burnley indoor market, posing as traders.
The officers were in almost daily contact with cannabis addict Alfred Dunstan (21), who already had a long criminal record, or market trader and second-hand dealer Geoffrey Blundell (39), who told one officer to call him Del Boy.
The hearing was told how Dunstan, said to have learning difficulties and mental health problems, also set up a skunk cannabis deal on December 9th last year, after enlisting his brother Robert Fleming (26) to get the drugs.
Brian Ormonde (26), who was jailed for two years for burglaries in February, allowed his home to be used to store 500g of high quality cannabis.
Dunstan, of Padiham Road, and father-of-six Blundell, of Laithe Street, both Burnley, admitted conspiracy to handle stolen goods. Dunstan, Fleming, of Hall Park Avenue, Cliviger, and dad-of-two Ormonde, of Baker Street, Burnley, admitted being concerned in the supply of cannabis.
Dunstan, father of an eight-month-old baby, also admitted burglary at a house in Ellis Street, Burnley, last October, and handling stolen goods. He was in breach of a suspended sentence and was jailed for two-and-a-half years. Blundell received 12 months, Fleming was given eight months and Ormonde 16 weeks.
Mr Roger Green (prosecuting) said under Operation Loreley, the officers ran the stall for three-and-a-half months, between last September and December.
Last October, Dunstan entered a house in Ellis Street while the victims were asleep. He stole a television and mobile phone and, just after noon, Blundell contacted one undercover officer and told him Dunstan had two televisions to sell. They met Dunstan, who told them he was breaking into homes as he was fed up with having no money.
Mr Green said, in mid November, Dunstan sold the quad bikes for £500, but the day after was keen to get them back and gave the officer £160.
The last contact between Blundell and the undercover officer was last December, when the defendant offered him radio control cars, boats and planes. Blundell was arrested on March 30th and claimed he had been bullied by Dunstan.
Mr Philip Holden (defending Dunstan) said he was vulnerable, suggestible to the influence of others and some time ago received a hospital order.
The barrister claimed the officers had been “the talk of the town” as they were paying over the odds for goods and “crime was being committed as they were giving a good price.”
Mr Holden said it was laughable to suggest the defendant was in charge. “At times, there was the use of bravado to try to big himself up, but a master criminal Alfie Dunstan certainly is not. He is a very troubled young man,” he said.
Mr Martin Hackett (defending Blundell) said legitimate trade was also going on with the officers.
Mr Kevin Preston (defending Fleming) said he had been pestered by his brother to source the cannabis. Ormonde’s solicitor, Mr Simon Gurney, said he had been due to be released on home detention curfew in June, after serving four months. He was custodian of the cannabis for a short time in return for £50.