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How three major crimes were cracked with the help of Suffolk's serious crime disruption team

PUBLISHED: 05:30 20 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:45 20 October 2019

Guns and ammunition seized as part of Operation Whiston. Nik Easey was jailed for eight-and-a-half years drugs and firearms  Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Guns and ammunition seized as part of Operation Whiston. Nik Easey was jailed for eight-and-a-half years drugs and firearms Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Suffolk Constabulary

Two detectives have reflected on some of the biggest cases cracked by a special police unit launched last year to fight serious crime.

Suffolk's serious crime disruption team was established as part of wider plans to restructure the forces policing model  Picture: ARCHANTSuffolk's serious crime disruption team was established as part of wider plans to restructure the forces policing model Picture: ARCHANT

A year on from the launch of Serious Crime Disruption Team, Detective Inspector Mark Pollikett and Detective Sergeant Craig Powell discussed some of the unit's most satisfying results.

Among criminals removed from the streets since the inception of the team; a violent robber who mugged a 79-year-old woman in Ipswich; three county lines drug dealers operating across the Suffolk border; a gun hoarder with a stash of firearms and ammo; and two gang members involved in three brutal stabbings.

DS Powell said the unit's ability to gather enough intelligence to secure an 80% guilty plea rate had given most criminals little choice but to admit offences in the face of overwhelming evidence.

The county-wide team was launched to tackle 'high threat and harm' crime, including drug supply and robbery, while being available to assist investigations into domestic abuse, child sexual abuse and serious sexual offences.

Rhys Burroughs was sentenced to eight years in prison for robbing a 79-year-old woman as she walked to bingo  Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARYRhys Burroughs was sentenced to eight years in prison for robbing a 79-year-old woman as she walked to bingo Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

It aimed to fill a gap between CID teams and the region-wide remit of the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit - with a 'cradle to grave' approach to seeing cases through to conviction.

Under DI Pollikett, supported by DS Powell, the team comprises two detectives, four trainee detectives, two police staff and a digital media investigator.

DI Pollikett said: "We're a force resource, assisting other teams while taking on new investigations - some more protracted than others.

"We're not exclusively a drugs team, although a lot of work is around that.

Rhyone Hinkson, Mohamed Abdullahi and Michael Martin were all jailed for their part in a county lines drug-dealing operation  Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARYRhyone Hinkson, Mohamed Abdullahi and Michael Martin were all jailed for their part in a county lines drug-dealing operation Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

"It's all about risk and harm. If it's considered a serious crime, it can fall within our remit."

DS Powell added: "Achieving 80% plus guilty pleas at the first opportunity has saved time and money for the criminal justice system. It's a measure of the quality of work being done.

"In some investigations, and in partnership with the joint major investigations team, we've been able to use organised criminals' own Youtube videos and other digital evidence against them - to good effect.

"Intelligence from communities is also a big driver.

Nik Easey, of Bonny Crescent, Ipswich, jailed for eight years and six months at Ipswich Crown Court for drugs and firearms offences Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARYNik Easey, of Bonny Crescent, Ipswich, jailed for eight years and six months at Ipswich Crown Court for drugs and firearms offences Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

"Sometimes it comes from our safer neighbourhood teams and regional resources, but members of the public are also key."

Rhys Burroughs - Jailed in April 2019

Rhys Burroughs was jailed for eight years for robbing a 79-year-old on her way to play bingo.

Easey also admitted possessing cocaine worth £15,000 and of cannabis worth more than £4,000 with intent to supply  Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARYEasey also admitted possessing cocaine worth £15,000 and of cannabis worth more than £4,000 with intent to supply Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Burroughs, 32, of Colchester Road, denied the November 2017 robbery but was convicted by majority verdict.

The investigation won DS Powell and DC Nick Shirley a Certificate of Merit.

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DS Powell: "The job was initially concentrated in one area, but we decided we could aid the investigation, despite there being no witnesses and no forensic evidence.

Photographs of a Rolex watch and a suitcase containing £20 notes were also said to have been found on Nik Easey's mobile phone  Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARYPhotographs of a Rolex watch and a suitcase containing £20 notes were also said to have been found on Nik Easey's mobile phone Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

"Without the expertise of the team, we might not have achieved that success.

"It was our first use of 'fly-over' technology of the scene to present to the jury - showing where the victim's phone had been dumped, close to a bag belonging to Burroughs.

"We had many pieces of evidence pointing in one direction.

"It's one of the best examples of going from nowhere to a guilty verdict - and the satisfying result I've had since joining the police."

Nik Easey was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court in March  Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARYNik Easey was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court in March Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Rhyone Hinkson, Mohamed Abdullahi and Michael Martin - Jailed in June 2019

Drug dealers Rhyone Hinkson, Mohamed Abdullahi and Michael Martin were jailed for a total of fifteen-and-a-half years for their part in a county lines supply operation.

The trio were caught using the same hire car to deal crack and heroin twice in a week - first in Macaulay Road, Ipswich, and then in a Clacton car park, kept under observation until the defendants approached.

Among evidence against Nik Easey was a photo showing his own name tattooed on his wrist  Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARYAmong evidence against Nik Easey was a photo showing his own name tattooed on his wrist Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Their arrests were the outcome of many weeks of carefully coordinated planning and groundwork.

All three were linked to the 'Marlow' drugs supply line, which was impacting on Suffolk and Essex.

DI Pollikett: "We stopped them and arrested them for possession of a large amount of class A drugs.

"The evidence from both investigations was strong - and it meant we had disrupted a county line.

"We took away their drugs, put them in jail and sent out a message that it's not tolerated in this county."

Nik Easey - Jailed in March 2019

Nik Easey was jailed for eight-and-a-half years after being caught with a stash of drugs and guns.

Easey, 32, of no fixed address, Ipswich, admitted possessing a prohibited Webley revolver with a barrel less than 30cm, and possessing a Ruger pistol, a CZ 455 rifle, and more than 80 cartridges without a firearm certificate.

He also admitted possessing 138g of cocaine worth £15,000 and 300g of cannabis worth more than £4,000 with intent to supply.

Text messages on Easey's phone included requests from customers for cocaine and cannabis, and vague threats about what would happen if debts were not promptly paid.

Easey had been addicted to class A drugs in his 20s; enjoyed a period of stability when he became the father of three and was in full time employment, but relapsed after being the first on the scene of a car accident, resulting in him losing his job, his relationship, and becoming addicted to gambling as well as drugs.

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