Drug dealing dad paid £1m to violent gang boss plotting to murder his son after stash house raid

Brian Maxwell, 56, and Brian Maxwell Jr, 37, fell foul of an organised crime group led by Stockbridge Village gangster Vincent Coggins
Brian Maxwell, 56, and Brian Maxwell Jr, 37, fell foul of an organised crime group led by Stockbridge Village gangster Vincent Coggins -Credit:Merseyside Police

A drug dealing dad sold over £1m worth of land and a house to a violent gang who were plotting to murder his son.

Brian Maxwell, 56, and Brian Maxwell Jr, 37, fell foul of an organised crime group led by Stockbridge Village gangster Vincent Coggins who threatened to murder the younger man because he believed he had robbed a huge amount of drugs from him. The stash house, on Croxdale Road in West Derby, was raided on May 23 2020 by four masked men who slashed the homeowner and made off with 30 kg of cocaine - worth over £1m.

After deploying his foot soldiers to find out who was responsible, Vincent Coggins, who ran the organised crime group with his brother Francis, was given the names of Maxwell Jr, Michael Eves and Iyobosa ‘Bosa’ Igbinovia and started to put plans in place to kill them. Vincent Coggins, who operated under the EncroChat handle “moonlitboat”, was assisted in the conspiracy by his associates Edward Jarvis, Michael Earle and Paul Woodford, who went by the handles “Softherb”, “bladehedge” and “kingwasp” respectively.

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But little did they know that their every move was being watched by law enforcement after the EncroChat network had been hacked by European law enforcement in early April 2020. The ECHO can finally reveal it was the Coggins’ organised crime group that threatened the men after four years of extensive reporting restrictions have been lifted.

The Maxwells received formal Osman warnings from Merseyside Police, which meant there was a genuine threat to their lives, on May 27 2020. Maxwell Jr believed the threat to be legitimate. Liverpool Crown Court previously heard how Maxwell Jr, under the handles “Medium Rose” and “Dior-Note”, used his EncroChat phone to try and source weapons including an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and an AK47 to defend himself. Messages to his drug-dealing dad, who operated the handle “RetiredVermouth,” said he had resorted to “keep a machete on me”.

He added if he saw one of the Coggins gang, he would take his opportunity to “get one of them”. He was right to be worried. Vincent Coggins had requested co-conspirator Earle to source him a “pineapple” - an underworld term for a hand grenade - while associate Paul Woodford offered to buy a firearm and ammunition on his boss’ behalf.

Even when presented with potential evidence that Maxwell Jr could not have been involved in the robbery because he had CCTV of him at home all day and advised to leave it until the following day, Vincent Coggins refused. He messaged Earle: “No m8 tonight now got to be done we don’t mess round”. It was only the failure in delivering the grenade to the attacker that halted proceedings for another day.

Recognising the threat to his son, Maxwell Sr stepped in. He enlisted the help of a middle-man, who cannot be named due to ongoing reporting restrictions, to contact the gang with a proposition. He knew his son had not committed the robbery but understanding the threat said “me solution involves me and me alone paying the bill and then its me that’s been robbed, I’d rather have him than the money…and it wont be in grip coz I haven’t got it any more than he has…then its down to me to find out who done it…any money I’ve got means f*** all if he dead”.

Maxwell Sr offered around £1,360,000 to Vincent Coggins, split into cash and the sale of land and a house. Vincent Coggins accepted the offer. But a chilling message to Earle later the same day showed it was just a temporary peace. “F*** me still going to kill them all but can take time now leave dad alone”, he wrote. After Earle expressed concern about the police pressure on the gang, Vincent Coggins added: “Am staying till I’ve got every penny an at least done of one of the c****”.

Maxwell Sr signed over the money, land and house on June 3 2020 at an office on Stanley Street in Liverpool. A record from the Land Registry shows on that day a charge in the sum of £600,000 was signed by Maxwell Sr and his wife on property at 2 Stockswell Road, Widnes to two companies with links to Vincent Coggins.

For now, the threat on his son’s life had subsided. Ten days later, on June 13, EncroChat administrators sent all users the message that the domain had been compromised and they could no longer guarantee the security of the devices. They advised users to power off and to physically dispose of their devices.

Three days later, Vincent Coggins, Woodford, Earle and Jarvis were all arrested by the police. The Maxwells were arrested several months later. And during the Maxwell’s court sentencing in April 2022, Maxwell Jr’s defence said the police operation to disrupt the hand grenade attack “had probably saved his life”.

Blood at the entrance of a house on Croxdale Road West
Blood at the entrance of a house on Croxdale Road West -Credit:Liverpool Echo

The EncroChat network that had proved pivotal in ensuring his would-be assassins were uncovered also led investigators to securing the evidence they needed to jail the Maxwells. It also led investigators to the real cocaine robbers - the Salford crime family the Coxes, who worked in collaboration with Liverpool man Richard Caswell to raid the Coggins' stash house.

The Maxwells operated at a wholesale level in class A drugs. Maxwell Sr appeared to have been using an adulterant called “ghost” to mix with cocaine. Messages showed the dad was waiting for 250 kg of ghost. Just 10 kg of the adulterant could create 25 kg of street level cocaine. The two men also controlled a substantial cannabis farm operation.

Maxwell Sr managed a network of properties which were used to house their drug farms, while the younger Maxwell took a more hands-on role in the cannabis production, buying equipment, plants and nutrients to help the plants grow. Maxwell Sr, previously of Stockswell Road, Tarbock Green, and Maxwell Jr, of Ditchfield Road, Widnes, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply diamorphine, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine and conspiracy to produce cannabis.

Maxwell Jr also admitted conspiring to possess, purchase or acquire prohibited firearms, between March 27, 2020 and June 6, 2020. He also admitted possession of prohibited firearms. Judge David Aubrey KC told the dad and son that they had assumed they were protected from the law through their use of Encrochat phones. He said: "The phones proved to be your downfall." Maxwell Jr was jailed for 18 years and four months, while his dad was sent down for 13 years and four months.

The loss of over £1m of resources for their safety might have taken a huge chunk out the pockets of many in the underworld, but not the Maxwells. When the pair were returned to court in September 2023 for a Proceeds of Crime Hearing, prosecutors said the pair had made millions from their involvement in the criminal underworld.

It was calculated Maxwell Sr earned a total of £1,188,376.55 from his illicit dealings, comprising of a "benefit from criminality" of £1,187,116.55 plus £1,260 of "memorabilia" which was seized from him by police. He had assets totalling £280,988.84. This sum includes 50% of the proceeds of the "former marital home" on Stockswell Road in Tarbock Green and equity in rental properties on Wokingham Grove and Essex Road in Huyton, Saxonby Street in Knotty Ash, Colwell Close in West Derby and Queens Road in Prescot.

Maxwell Jnr's benefit figure was meanwhile calculated at £1,187,116.55, although his assets were only said to now stand at £20,100 - this being a 60% share of an address on Ruislip Close in Halewood.

Vincent Coggins, 58, of Woodpecker Close, West Derby, who was jailed for 28 years after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs and conspiracy to commit blackmail.
Vincent Coggins led the Huyton Firm who blackmailed and threatened the Maxwells -Credit:NWROCU

The ECHO can finally reveal all after Jarvis was convicted at Manchester Crown Court. Jarvis’ co-conspirators, including “headmaster” Vincent Coggins, Earle, Woodford and a number of other associates have already been jailed. Francis Coggins has not yet been apprehended in relation to the investigation.

Vincent Coggins, aged 58 and of Woodpecker Close in West Derby, 58-year-old Paul Woodford, of Marl Road in Kirkby, and 48-year-old Michael Earle, of Wallace Drive in Huyton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs and conspiracy to commit blackmail. They were imprisoned for 28 years, 28-and-a-half years and 11 years respectively.

Dean Borrows, aged 39 and of Ledson Grove in Aughton, 46-year-old Darren Tierney, of Chatham Street in Stockport, and 60-year-old Paul Fitzsimmons, of Birch Tree Court in West Derby, admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine and heroin. They were handed respective terms 14 years and three months, 12 years and nine months and 12-and-a-half years.

Kevin Rimmer, of Blacklow Brow in Huyton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin. The 57-year-old was locked up for 16 years. Paul Glynn, of Croxdale Road West in West Derby, admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine. The 59-year-old was given 11 years and two months.

Edward Jarvis, of Breckside Park in Anfield, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and conspiracy to commit blackmail. The 59-year-old will be sentenced at a later date.

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