Jailed; Walsall doorstep conman who tricked and stole over £18K from OAPs

Crimea Price - picture from West Midlands Police
Crimea Price – picture from West Midlands Police

A cruel conman who helped steal wedding rings from an elderly widow has been jailed for over seven years.

Callous Crimea Price, 33, was part of a gang which a judge said “left a trail of misery” across the West Midlands targeting elderly widows and cancer patients.

One of his victims was stripped of £2,000 cash along with an engagement ring, her dead husband’s wedding ring and other jewellery belonging to her dead sister.

In total over a five month period dad-of-two Price, a member of the travelling community, along with others pocketed around £18,000 from 50 victims.

As he was jailed for seven-and-a-half years at Birmingham Crown Court it was heard the offences were committed while Price was on bail and the subject of a suspended sentence for similar offences.
He was jailed for 54 weeks in February for a similar raid against a 98-year-old woman who was conned of £300.

Recorder Jacob Hallam told the conman, of Long Lane, Great Wyrley near Walsall; “Between September and February you and your fellow conspirators left a trail of misery and fear across the West Midlands.
“You targeted the elderly and vulnerable in their own home to gain money and valuables.

“The effect on many was profound and will no doubt remain with them for what remains of their lives.

“A stark message must be sent to those who would prey on them as you and your co-conspirators did.”

Price and his gang targeted pensioners in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sutton Coldfield, West Bromwich, Rugeley, and Cannock.

Posing as officials they would tell householders a rat infestation had been reported and demanded cash to deal with it.

Others were told a skip had to be hired to clear away garden debris or that a leak had been discovered.

While some were asked to hand over cash directly, others were distracted while a member of the gang searched cupboards and drawers hunting for cash and valuables.

Jennifer Josephs, prosecuting, said; “This was a cynical plan to visit the elderly, the easily confused or persuaded and to deceive them into gaining access to their property and their money.

“Occupants were told there were rats in the garden, that neighbours had complained, and these men were from the council and could sort it out.

“There would always be a cost for this job, usually a few hundred pounds.

“Usually people would hand over their money to the nice man from the council who would then go to get a receipt or poison for the rats.

“He would never come back, the money would be gone.”

Ms Josephs said Price was connected to the offences by mobile phone evidence which placed his two mobile phones in the areas of 49 of the offence offences at the times the pensioners were targeted.

She said; “Once may be a coincidence, twice maybe.

“But with 49 offences, the coincidence is too great.”

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Brock Turner is not just a frat boy issue, it’s a men everywhere issue

Brock Turner
Brock Turner

(Updated with mugshot of Turner which was released by police after requests from the media)

It’s hard to fathom how a 20-year-old convicted of taking an unconscious girl behind a bin before sexually assaulting her can only be subject to a six month sentence.

But the most worrying thing about the Stanford student’s case is Brock Turner’s and his father’s insistence this case was about drink culture and promiscuity.

In remarks made to the court before sentence, both Turner and his dad insisted he shouldn’t be sent to prison.

His father described such a step for “20 minutes of action” as unnecessary and that his son would be more use educating other students about drinking and promiscuity.

It has to be remembered what that “20 minutes of action” involved.

At a college party in January 2015 Turner was spotted behind a bin, seemingly gyrating against a motionless body.

That body was a fellow party-goer, barely conscious, unaware of what was being done to her.

Confronted by two other students, Turner ran but was apprehended.

His victim only became aware of the extent of what had happened as she was subjected to a string of medical examinations.

Her underwear had been removed and she had been assaulted with a foreign object and Turner’s fingers.

We can’t know what else might have happened had he not been interrupted.

You could, and should, read his victim’s account of this incident and what followed here.

Turner insisted the girl, 19, consented, that both had drunk too much but ultimately he had done nothing wrong.

And that’s what makes his educational aspirations so chilling.

Because if he still insists, as he does, that he is innocent, then his warnings about drink and promiscuity must be a warning to other men; ‘don’t get trapped by drunk and promiscuous women or else you’ll become a victim like me’.

How else can his position be interpreted based on what he and his father have said about these crimes?

Since his sentencing last week and the publication of his victim’s impact statement, discussion has centred around rape culture on college campuses.

But that belies the problem.

Last week at Birmingham Crown Court I covered a case which was picked up widely in the press.

Picture from West Midlands Police; l-r Zaheer Abbas and Sajad Hussain
Picture from West Midlands Police; l-r Zaheer Abbas and Sajad Hussain

The case involved a 19-year-old woman, removed from Snobs nightclub after collapsing, drunk inside.

Once outside she was lured into a van where she was abducted, driven to an industrial estate and raped by Zaheer Abbas, 30.

Co-defendant Sajad Hussain, 35, was acquitted of rape but convicted of sexually assaulting the teen in the back of the van.

Both men claimed their victim had consented and been a willing participant despite CCTV evidence showing she could hardly stand.

Even as he was sentenced Hussain denied doing anything wrong and he was sorry he hadn’t got out of the van sooner.

Think about that.

He’s not sorry a young woman was horrifically raped and if he could do things again he would get out of the van and leave her to be raped by his mate.

Perhaps they will set up classes in prison warning fellow inmates about drinking culture and promiscuity?

Of course both of these cases have nothing to do with drinking culture and nothing to do with promiscuity.

Promiscuity suggests a choice to have a lot of sex, and if that floats your boat, go for it.

But neither of these girls had a choice, they weren’t capable of choosing.

Whether that was down to consumption of alcohol or anything else is utterly irrelevant.

What Brock Turner and Abbas and Hussain have in common is they didn’t give a solitary shit about consent. They knew what they wanted and they just took it with no regard for their victims.

This is not an issue about college campuses, frat boys or drinking too much. It’s about men everywhere understanding the meaning of consent.

It’s about recognition that an absence of refusal isn’t a free pass to do what they want.

If a woman, or man for that matter, is unable to say yes or no, that is not tacit consent, it’s a massive no no.

The fact it’s 2016 and we still have to say these things is utterly depressing.

The fact Brock Turner’s parents still insist their son is a victim is also utterly depressing because it’s from parents these lessons should imparted.

Turner’s continued denials and insistence this case is about drinking and promiscuity should have been aggravating factors come sentencing.

His punishment should have been increased to hammer the message home about how wrong his actions were and how seriously they are taken.

Instead he will be home by Christmas and back with a family who for the rest of his life will reinforce his idea that he is the victim here.

It is for parents, and teachers, to inform children as they enter adolescence about consent, where the line is drawn and the damage caused by crossing it.

It’s not hard to see why Turner thought it was fine to take a comatose girl behind a bin and use her as a plaything when his primary role models see nothing wrong in what he did.

It can only be hoped his victim’s powerful statement resonates more than his denials to inform, not only frat boys, but men everywhere.

And until Brock Turner can stand up and say this is about consent, and sexual assault and rape, not drinking and promiscuity, he should have no voice at all.

Has the Criminal Justice System already passed ‘breaking point’?

image

So apparently massive cuts to the Criminal Justice System have driven it to “breaking point”, who knew?!

Well, anyone who has any contact with the system knew, that’s who.

This damning finding by Parliament’s spending watchdog the Public Accounts Committee told us what everyone knew, everyone except, apparently, the Ministry of Justice.

Meg Hillier MP, chair of the PAC said; “Too little thought has been given to the consequences of cutbacks with the result that the system’s ability to deliver justice, together with its credibility in the eyes of the public, is under threat.”

And how did the MoJ react to the fact that, under its direction, the system was found to be failing victims, witnesses, defendants, lawyers and, basically, all of us?

Like a snake eating its own tail, the MoJ said the report was clear evidence that it’s much vaunted reforms were much needed, totally ignoring the fact it’s their cuts which have driven the system into the ground in the first place.

In the wake of austerity – which has seen 27-percent of CPS lawyers chopped, legal aid slashed and courts closed – is a nice backlog of over 51,000 crown court cases. Coincidence?

Back in the autumn Michael Gove suggested, with razor-sharp insight, that one way of cutting costs would be to cut reoffending.

Yet last week we learned the privatised probation services are refusing to report breaches of court orders because it will harm their figures and therefore their bottom lines.

Last month we also heard violence, self harm and deaths are running rife in prisons.

Staff cuts mean there aren’t enough officers to allow prisoners access to education and activities which would actually cut reoffending.

Instead prisoners are spending 23 hours a day in their cells with only bunkmates and legal highs for company.

Between the cuts to police (another issue), CPS, courts, prison and probation, is it any wonder the CJS in slowly sinking in the mire?

The other day I was waiting for a trial to begin at Birmingham Crown a Court where a defendant was facing charges of theft (of a leaf blower), and aggravated vehicle taking.

The prosecution case rested largely on identification evidence which said the offender was a white, tall, ginger male.

Between his arrest, interview, charge, and plea hearing, nobody on the Crown’s side noticed (or bothered to look) at the defendant.

He was white, under six feet tall and had…brown hair.

Literally moments before the trial was due to start the prosecution decided it was best if no evidence was offered and the case was dropped.

This is one of god knows how many cases which are being charged, then free falling all the way to trial because there aren’t enough staff to properly assess them.

Between poor charging decisions, disastrous case management and woeful disclosure efforts, cases are rolling into court with as many loose ends as a plate of spaghetti.

Victims, witnesses and the definitely not-ginger defendant should have been put out of their misery on that case months ago, not to mention the waste of court time having a dead duck of a case taking up precious space in the list.

The MoJ can talk of reforms until the cows come home but you know what’s needed? Cold hard cash.

Investment. Plain and simple.

Pay for adequate numbers of CPS workers and solicitors to properly manage cases, provide legal aid wherever it is needed for justice to be done, pay for court staff and victim services to make an inevitably stressful situation that little bit easier.

Regularly in court I hear more mentions mentions of the public purse than I do of justice suggesting those famous scales may have tipped in the favour of cost.

If that’s the case, surely the system is way beyond breaking point and is, in fact, broken.

So what are the chances of proper investment in the system to revive its twitching corpse?
I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Where’s the incentive when most people don’t see the CJS as something they’ll ever need?

As law abiding citizens they’ll never be accused of a crime and being a victim is something that happens to other people.

The MoJ can wring its hands a little, promise it’s already reforming and then quietly leave the system in freefall until the next report is published.

Attention on Michael Gove’s is solely focused his EU escape plan and quite how he’ll retrieve his knife from David Cameron’s back.

If pushed he can talk about digital advances and proper punishment while ignoring elephant in the room.

All of the issues mentioned are well known. Everyone in the system knows there are too few workers for too many cases with not enough cash to handle them properly.

It’s simply not possible those at the top of the MoJ are working in blind ignorance of the effects of the cuts.

The only conclusion to draw is that neither Michael Gove nor the MoJ give much of a shit.

So long as they can claim they are trying, they don’t care how deeply the cuts bite or the implications for something as intangible as justice.

Until voters are dragged into the CJS it’s not really something that sways at the ballot box. They care about crime, but responsibility for that can be shunted off to the Home Office.

With no hope of investment and a Minister with one eye on Downing Street, the PAC’s report will go down as another marker of the CJS’s sad and lingering decline.

On the run: ‘Dangerous’ paedophile who raped two young children

MANICO_JOSE
Jose Manico – picture from West Midlands Police

As the Guardian reported around 1,300 dangerous offenders are on the run after jumping court bail, here’s a pretty horrific case which concluded at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday. Anyone with information on Manico’s whereabouts should contact west Midlands Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

A DANGEROUS paedophile who raped two children in almost identical attacks is on the run after being sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Twisted Jose Manico, 44, fled the country before he could face trial over the string of offences against a six year old girl in London and a boy of the same age in Birmingham a decade later.

The depraved dad, from Edgbaston, Birmingham, was described by a judge as a “dangerous offender” who continued to pose a risk to children.

Passing sentence in Manico’s absence, Judge Mark Wall QC said; “I have no doubt he must be treated as a dangerous offender.

“He committed these offences at different points in his life separated by a great deal of time.

“He targeted both a boy and a girl and on each occasion they were children of real youth.

“There is a significant risk he will continue to offend in this way into the future.”

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Court on Camera; Roll up for the rapists and PAEDOS…or not.

D'oh!

In recent weeks and months I’ve watched as my profession makes itself look like Homer Simpson at the helm of Springfield’s nuclear power plant in reporting issues around the justice system.

From the reporting of the Supreme Court’s decision in R v Jogee  (judgment here) on joint enterprise to the inevitable FOI request into legal aid every time a high profile case (usually murder) ends, the media never seems to get it right.

Even the BBC made a hash of reporting the implications on joint enterprise, then led out on the outrage of the legal aid cost in the trial of Becky Watts’ killers.

Throw into the mix the disastrous three part documentary The Prosecutors, at best a tiny glimpse into life at the CPS, a worst an agenda driven puff piece, and it’s strike three for Auntie.

Thankfully the Beeb have been pretty restrained at the news cameras may be allowed into Crown Courts for the first time under plans announced by the MoJ (more thoughts on that later).

But others have run away with themselves again, like children being given the keys to the sweetie cupboard.

And so see the Mail and Express, unable to contain their excitement, found on the kitchen floor with chocolate around their mouths, candy floss in their hair and silhouetted in sherbet after their latest binge.

‘High profile murder trials could be aired LIVE on TV’ Mail Online reported (their caps). The Express took an almost identical line.

Both used the news as a way to link the story to high profile cases, Huntley, Yorkshire Ripper and so forth.

The headlines may as well have been ‘Roll up for the rapists and PAEDOS!!!!!’

In reality the MoJ plan is for a trial in just eight court centres (including Birmingham) focusing only on judge’s sentencing remarks and at this stage this footage won’t even be made public.

It will form a decision as to whether a similar setup could ever go public.

Future broadcasts would follow a similar line and so suggestions we may see live trials is way wide of the mark.

This will not be OJ Simpson in the UK, bloodied daggers will not be wielded in front of horrified jurors and viewers most certainly won’t get to watch the rapists and murderers squirm in the dock or witness box.

Instead you will see a fairly sober looking judge delivering fairly standard sentencing remarks outlining the case and explaining the rationale behind the ultimate sentence (again, more on this soon).

Reporting like this, while disappointing, shouldn’t come as a surprise really. The justice system is reported in some quarters in the same way as the NHS – grab the attention, alarm alarm alarm and don’t worry about the finer details.

The problem here is, it’s this irresponsibility that slams the brakes on access to things like cameras in courts, it’s the reason people don’t have a grasp on the importance of things like legal aid, a well funded CPS and courts service.

Part of the argument against televising trials is that media outlets would use it for entertainment, viewing figures, web clicks and would therefore use footage in the most sensational, if not accurate way, justice be damned.

Given the above examples, is there any surprise there’s apprehension about giving the lunatics the keys to the asylum?

On the whole I think the proposals by the MoJ are sensible.

Even I hade to read that sentence back to double check it contained both the words ‘MoJ’ and ‘sensible’.

The showing of a judge’s sentencing remarks would open a window on the system that for many is a mystery.

For some it will give a glimpse as to how sentencing decisions are made, taking into consideration the facts, mitigation and guidelines.

Of course for some they will retain their sense of outrage at the system unless judges order public floggings, tarring and feathering in the town square and the return of the hangman’s rope.

But at least their outrage may have some bass is in reality.

On the whole I don’t see this move changing things a great deal. Parliament has been open to cameras for decades and people still don’t have a brilliant grasp of the passage of a Bill through the house.

It will be dependant I suppose on which cases are recorded and where and how that footage is made available.

But more transparency of our justice system can only be a good thing and perhaps real footage, showing how sentencing works might help to counter some of the dodgy reporting we’re currently lumbered with.

Given Birmingham is on the list for the MoJs video trial I’ll been keen to see the process in action.

Nephew admits manslaughter of retired Solihull teacher Anne Dunkley

anne dunkley

**A case from Birmingham Crown Court picked up by the Birmingham Mail here
Y
ou can find the Mail’s earlier coverage of the incident here**

The nephew of retired deputy headteacher Anne Dunkley has pleaded guilty to her manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Gareth Emery, 25, denied murdering his much-loved aunt, 67, at her home in Marston Green last June.

But in a short hearing at Birmingham Crown Court he admitted her manslaughter and a charge of wounding with intent against her son, Matthew Dunkley.

Prosecutor Adrian Keeling QC said the guilty plea to the lesser charge was accepted after doctors diagnosed Emery as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

Mrs Dunkley’s family had also been consulted before the plea was accepted.

The court heard there was evidence Emery, from Clinton Road, Shirley , was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the killing on June 5.

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Martial arts expert jailed for manslaughter of former soldier Charles McInally

Troy Ktori - picture from West Midlands Police
Troy Ktori – picture from West Midlands Police

A former Thai Boxing world champion has been jailed for 12 years for the manslaughter of Scots ex-serviceman Charles McInally.

Troy Ktori, 27, was accused of murdering Mr McInally, 55, at the former soldier’s Birmingham home last year.

But following a week-long trial at Birmingham Crown Court the martial arts expert, of Shenstone Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, was cleared of murder and convicted of manslaughter.

A three times world champion in his youth, Ktori stabbed the ex-Royal Signal Regiment soldier through the throat after an afternoon of drinking and taking cocaine.

He claimed he was acting in self-defence.

Jailing him for 12 years, with an extended five years on licence, Mr Justice Neil Garnham told Ktori; “You have a temper that is made worse by drink and drugs, both of which a abuse regularly.

“You behaviour demonstrates when irritated by others you will resort to violence .

“You do not act in a moment of red mist but in a collected, calm, determined manner.

“You are a dangerous man Mr Ktori.”

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