Leeds Crown Court round-up: Criminals who have faced justice this week

Paul Shepherd was one of four defendants who received lengthy jail spells. PIC: NCA/National World
Paul Shepherd was one of four defendants who received lengthy jail spells. PIC: NCA/National World

Cocaine gang jailed

A criminal gang that included a former Leeds United player and dealt in kilogrammes of cocaine were caught when their coded phone messages were cracked by the authorities.

The four underworld members had no idea that the secret EncroChat service they were using had been compromised in April 2020, allowing police to monitor conversations.

They talked about wholesale buying and selling huge quantities of high-grade cocaine for £42,000 per kilogramme, cutting it with agents and selling it on.

Ringleader Carl O’Flaherty was jailed for 17 years and 10 months

Paul Shepherd, a former Leeds United and Luton Town player in the 1990s was a “trusted courier” for O’Flaherty who collected cash from around the country. He was jailed for nine years and six months.

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Brendan O’Toole

A son repeatedly hit his father over the head with a half-full bottle of wine until it smashed after he refused to hand over £1,000.

Brendan O’Toole, who had only be released from hospital to treat his bipolar disorder days before, attacked his elderly dad with the makeshift weapon at their home in Lawrence Road, Gipton, before grabbing him and punching him to the head over and over.

Left with a bleed to the brain, the elderly victim described his son as a “big lad” – standing at 6ft 2” and weighing 17 stone.

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Reece Liburd

A gun was fired twice during a “terrifying” attack on a busy Leeds street where children were present and which left two pedestrians injured.

Reece Liburd was recognised by police on street CCTV. He was handed a life sentence for possession of a firearm with an intent to endanger life, and ordered to serve a minimum eight years.

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Louise Asquith

A desperate and hungry woman pulled out a machete in a Cash Convertor store when they refused to buy electrical items she was carrying.

Louise Asquith lifted the lengthy blade from her trousers when the manager of the shop in Kirkgate, Wakefield, and told her and the male accompanying her that they would not take the goods because they were dated.

She was jailed for 12 months.

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Thomas Farrar

A bully who “absolutely horrible” to his partner, called her names and attacked her was forced to admit his guilt after a neighbour contacted the police.

The concerned neighbour on the Eastmoor estate in Wakefield said she could often heard Thomas Farrar shouting at the woman and making “degrading and abusive remarks”

Farrar, of Newstead Avenue, Wakefield, denied wrongdoing but later admitted ABH, assault and coercive control between April 2021 and May 2023.

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Hayden Michael Bleasby

A couple who argued over a pet dog defecating on a living floor led to the woman being strangled in a violent attack.

Hayden Michael Bleasby attacked the female when she told him to clean up after his dog that had done its business on the living room floor.

He was jailed for eight months, suspended for 24 months, with150 hours of unpaid work, five rehabilitation days and ordered to complete the Building Better Relationships rehabilitation course.

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