Four men appeared at Manchester Crown Court yesterday afternoon (23 March 2022) , where they were jailed after all pleading guilty to aggravated burglary and conspiracy to burgle.
- Ahmad Mirza, 01/01/1985, of Norris Street, Lincoln, sentenced to 11 years in prison.
- Kurdistan Hamid, 01/01/1982, of Norris Street, Lincoln, sentenced to 11 years and eight months in prison.
- Saman Ali, 26/12/1990, of Belmont Avenue, Blackpool, sentenced to 11 years in prison.
- Ali Karimi, 01/01/1984, of Fir Grove, Blackpool, sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Operation Orchid is the name of the investigation surrounding the death of 49-year-old businessman Peter Cordwell, who tragically died after trying to protect a storage unit at Collop Gate Farm, in Heywood, which he owned, from being burgled. The storage units were rented out by Peter to a number of different businesses in the area.
The court heard how on the evening of the 28 October 2020, police received a call from a security guard at the farm, who reported a group of around eight men attempting to break into one of the secure storage containers. This container was later discovered to contain around £800,000 worth of counterfeit cigarettes.
The gang removed the locked gates into the farm and drove in two vehicles. On being alerted to the break in, Peter drove to the scene in an attempt to thwart the offenders. Also in attendance was Peter’s son who blocked the exit of the unit before he and the security guard were violently attacked. They sought to seek refuge in Peter’s car, which was also attacked with the defendants smashing the windscreen with weapons.
Fearing for their lives, Peter drove away from the scene where he tragically suffered a heart attack and died nearby, whilst the defendants fled the scene.
Following a number of enquiries carried out by a team of detectives from GMPs Challenger and Major Incident Support Units, including telephone enquiries, ANPR checks, media appeals and identification parades, the defendants were arrested and later charged.
SIO Duncan Thorpe of the Serious Crime Division said: “This was a burglary gone wrong, which tragically concluded with an innocent man later losing his life and our thoughts are very much with Peter’s loved ones today. The defendants formed part of a national organised crime group who would sell counterfeit cigarettes before then locating where they had been stored by the buyer and stealing them back into their possession. The violence they used towards the victims that evening was deplorable and shows their ruthless and dangerous mind set.
“We have been committed from day one in ensuring that these people faced justice and we will continue to crack down on organised crime in Greater Manchester”.