Faces of the 17 criminals caged across North Staffordshire in April

A gang who were jailed for murdering a Stoke-on-Trent DPD driver was the most high-profile court case during April. Also caged this month was a violent thug, a professional burglar and a controlling bully.

Our reporters cover the latest proceedings at North Staffordshire Justice Centre, Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court, Stafford Crown Court and other courts when local people are in the dock.

Here's a round-up of the cases where criminals have been sent to prison by courts in the area over the course of the month:

Captain Thaw

Repeat offender Captain Thaw was jailed after he took knives and two poles inside a city centre shop. Police were called after the 63-year-old entered the CeX store in Stafford Street, Hanley, with the weapons.

Officers asked him to put the weapons down but when he refused, they used incapacitant spray to detain and arrest him.

In custody they searched him and found another knife. And he threw soiled toilet paper around the custody suite. Thaw, who has an appalling record with 83 previous convictions for 205 offences, was jailed for 12 months at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.

To read the full story click here.

Jamie Barratt

Cocaine user Jamie Barratt turned to dealing class A drugs to fund his habit. The 29-year-old was caught with a stash of heroin and cocaine deals when police arrested him at a Fenton address last year.

He went on to admit he sold the drugs to fund his own addiction. Now Barratt has been jailed for three years at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.

Prosecutor Barry White said police attended an address in Minshull Street, Fenton, at 1.33pm on October 18 last year and arrested Barratt.

To read the full story click here.

Nigel Holdway

Violent Nigel Holdway slammed his partner's head into a door during a terrifying attack. The 58-year-old, who has two previous convictions for assaulting the same woman, was made the subject of a five-year restraining order in 2022.

But the couple resumed their relationship when he was last released from prison and in early July he collected her from her flat in Crewe and took her to his North Staffordshire home. But by July 14 she wanted to leave and told him she was going home.

However, Holdway grabbed her and slammed her head into the door. Her left eye was so swollen she could not open it. He eventually took her home a week after the assault. Holdway was jailed for 30 months at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.

To read the full story click here.

Cameron Bennett

Cameron Bennett was jailed at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.
Captain Thaw pictured in 2007.

Controlling bully Cameron Bennett was jailed after he threatened to kill his partner and her child. The 23-year-old accused his girlfriend of being unfaithful to him and the owner of the house he was staying at put his belongings outside.

Bennett lost his temper, ran downstairs, armed himself with a knife and made the death threats. Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard she was terrified and believed he would kill her.

During the incident, he pushed his victim and caused damage inside the property. Bennett was jailed for 22 months.

To read the full story click here.

David Lovatt

Professional burglar David Lovatt slashed a man with a chisel after a row outside a city pub. The 50-year-old lunged at his victim and lashed out at him nine times before others stepped in and stopped the assault at Swifty's micro bar in Meir.

Lovatt, who also burgled two businesses, was jailed for 50 months at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court. Prosecutor Elizabeth Power said police were called to Swifty's in Weston Road just before midnight on July 16 last year.

Miss Power said: "The officer arrived. He saw the victim drunk but not incapable. He was out with his friend and had entered the bar to try and get another drink. He explained that someone had attacked him with a knife for no reason."

To read the full story click here.

Jordan Frost

Debt-ridden Jordan Frost sold crack cocaine after a gunman turned up at his Stoke-on-Trent home. The 30-year-old sent out flare messages advertising the drug for sale.

And when he was detained by police they analysed his phone and found it contained messages in which he directed others to locations to deliver deals. Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard he was trying to pay off his own £2,000 drug debt and at one point people turned up his partner's home with a firearm.

Frost, who has a previous conviction for drug-dealing, was jailed for 40 months after a judge told him 'if you swim with the sharks you get bitten'. Prosecutor Fiona Cortese said police executed a search warrant at an address in Norton on October 1, 2020 and the man inside the property had a mobile. It contained a message sent by Frost advertising cocaine for sale.

To read the full story click here.

Martin Rhodes

Among the sexually explicit pictures Martin Rhodes sent a girl was photos with his tongue sticking out
Jamie Barratt, aged 29, was jailed for three years at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court after pleading guilty to two charges of possessing a class A drug with intent to supply and possession of a class B drug in Fenton on October 18 last year.

Pervert Martin Rhodes was jailed after he tried to encourage a 14-year-old 'girl' to perform a sex act. The 52-year-old, who was locked up for similar matters in 2017, was in fact communicating with a paedophile hunter.

But Rhodes asked the 'girl' to send pictures of herself and he sent intimate pictures to her. The police were called in and he had deleted the conversation on his phone, which he was banned from doing under the terms of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) imposed seven years ago.

Rhodes was jailed for four-and-a-half years at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court. Prosecutor Jonathan Dickinson said the police were contacted by a member of a paedophile hunter group in February who said he was speaking to the defendant online.

To read the full story click here.

Gang jailed for murder

A gang who murdered a Stoke-on-Trent DPD driver were handed life sentences. They ambushed Aurman Singh after he left the DPD Etruria depot as part of a two-man crew to deliver parcels in Shrewsbury.

CCTV had captured Aurman arriving for work at the Etruria depot at 6.52am on August 21 and then stood behind his DPD van just before 7.15am. But the 23-year-old was dead hours later after being slaughtered in broad daylight with weapons including a 3.5lb axe, golf club, wooden stave, metal bar, hockey stick, shovel, knife and cricket bat.

He was left for dead in a huge pool of blood with 'his brain exposed'. His killers made a quick bid for freedom, fleeing in the two cars they had arrived in and taking some of their blood-stained murder weapons with them.

To read the full story click here.

Rafal Mikiewicz

A drugged-up man put lives at risk by setting fire to his partner's flat. Rafal Mikiewicz was believed to be under the influence of monkey dust when he became paranoid and started the blaze.

The 41-year-old made a rambling call to the police but had given the incorrect address. However officers arrived and were alerted by the smoke alarm.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard Mikiewicz tried to go back inside the flat with a fire extinguisher but was prevented from doing so. Firefighters arrived and tackled the blaze. No-one was injured but the damage to the property was estimated to be at least £30,000. Mikiewicz was jailed for 45 months.

To read the full story click here.

Victoria Prince

A woman who's 'used every drug Stoke-on-Trent has to offer' was jailed for more than seven years for stabbing her partner inside an upmarket Hanley apartment block. Victoria Prince lunged at her victim and stabbed him in his chest after she turned up at his flat inside the Clayworks development in the city centre.

She then tried to deliver a second blow but missed. Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard he staggered out of the building and told passers-by Prince had stabbed him.

But Prince managed to escape on an electric scooter and was later arrested in Abbey Hulton. The defendant - who was initially charged with attempted murder - was jailed for seven years and two months.

To read the full story click here.

Ryan Connor

Football coach Ryan Connor mowed down a man at a secluded Stoke-on-Trent beauty spot. The 32-year-old went to Park Hall Country Park to meet a woman but she didn't turn up.

Instead a man arrived and parked in front of Connor's Mercedes. Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard Connor - a convicted rapist - panicked and drove off, hitting the man who ended up on the bonnet before being dragged under the car.

Connor, who was jailed for six years in 2022 for raping two women, was handed a 12-month concurrent jail sentence. It means his prison release date will not change.

To read the full story click here.

Laurna Porter and Julie Atkins

Two Staffordshire women were jailed for defrauding and laundering £634,000 from deceased people's estates - including money intended for charities such as Cancer Research.

Laurna Porter was a probate manager at two firms of solicitors, during the period that she swindled the will beneficiaries. Many of the cheques were paid into the account of her friend Julie Atkins, with a portion of this money later transferred back to Porter.

Porter, 69, was jailed for four years at Stafford Crown Court after pleading guilty to charges of fraud by abuse of position and money laundering. Atkins, 68, was found guilty of money laundering earlier this year and was sentenced to 30 months in prison at Stafford Crown Court.

To read the full story click here.

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