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10 men including John ‘Goldfinger’ Palmer’s son-in-law jailed for roles in extortion, drug dealing and blackmail gang.

A relative of Bristol gangster John ‘Goldfinger’ Palmer was jailed today for conspiracy to blackmail local businessmen as part of an extortion racket by an organised crime group operating in the south west.

Andrew ‘Ginge’ Wylde, 50, was described by the prosecution as “the pleasant face” of the conspiracy with two others. But he also threatened victims that “geezers from London” would pay them a visit if they didn’t cough up.

Ginge, a second-hand car dealer, is married by common law to Palmer’s daughter Elle, who cried as he was sentenced to 26 months at Bristol Crown court.

The couple were about to move to Essex where Palmer lived, when he was assassinated in the garden of his mansion in 2015. The murder remains unsolved, and is the latest in a long line of killings of key figures associated with the iconic £26m Brinks Mat gold bullion robbery in 1983. Palmer ran a gold smelting business, Scadlyn Ltd, in Bedminster, Bristol which the police suspected was used to disguise the gold bars from the heist at Heathrow Airport.

Palmer moved to Tenerife and was later convicted for running a crooked multi-million pound timeshare business built on terror and fraud. He also had well established links with Russian organised crime.

Ginge told the Cable that after Palmer’s murder there had been a major falling out between Elle and her mother and they no longer spoke.

“Geezers from London”

Ginge traded on his father-in-law’s reputation to bolster an illegal debt collection “business” run by two associates, Andrew Baker, 52 and Adam Hoddinott, 48. The court heard that Ginge acted as the peacemaker, urging victims to pay his co-conspirators to avoid a beating.

Andrew Wallace, one of the victims of the blackmail conspiracy, told the court that Ginge had gatecrashed his birthday celebrations in July 2017 at the Kendleshire golf club demanding money on behalf of a subcontractor.

Wallace refused to come off the golf course and meet Ginge’s co-conspirators who were waiting nearby. Wallace told the court that Ginge approached him at the golf club’s car park and said, “You know I’m married to Palmer’s daughter.”

At the time of his arrest, Ginge had a car garage in the Cheltenham New Road, which he claimed turned over £320,000. During the trial Ginge claimed the reference to “geezers from London” was not about gangsters but a suggestion that the businessman could bring lawyers from the capital.

He said:

“I was just asked [by Baker] to have a word and I had a word, nothing to do with [threats]’.

However the prosecution ranked Baker as “the organiser”, Ginge “the face” and Hoddinott “the muscle.”

Ginge and prosecutor David Scutt locked horns during a testy cross-examination. Afterwards, Ginge told the Cable that he “tore him a new arsehole”. But Ginge’s barrister tried to repair the damage describing her client as “larger than life”. Anjali Gohil told the jury, “Wylde may not be wise, he may not chose his friends with care. He chose not to grass on them, he was simply used by them.”

Avon & Somerset detectives mounted a covert operation in 2017 after businessmen reported threats.

The jury were told that Ginge had a previous conviction in 2006 for blackmail. He had recovered a businessman’s company papers and threatened to pass them to the Inland Revenue unless he was paid £15,000. Ginge pleaded guilty and received 200 hours community service.

The businessman, rogue landlord Alan Dykes, was later jailed for healthy and safety offences at the tower block known as ‘The Office’ Speedwell, Bristol.

A covert operation

The surveillance operation also uncovered a conspiracy to supply cocaine from London and an ecstasy factory in Bristol. Hoddinott pleaded guilty to both conspiracies. Baker denied all criminality and was convicted of the conspiracy to blackmail and supply cocaine.

Image of pills made by confiscated press

In all, ten men were convicted of offences following two trials held at Bristol Crown Court – which can be reported now after legal restrictions were lifted.

Sentencing for the first trial took place in October, with nine men receiving more than 70 years for their roles in conspiracies to supply £70,000 worth of cocaine and nearly £500,000 worth of ecstasy to Bristol.

Cocaine seized from Newton Road

Jon Gordon of Croydon, London, a long-time associate of Andrew Baker, supplied the cocaine to Hoddinott after Andrew Baker agreed to act as guarantor.  Matthew Sellars worked closely with Hoddinott, while Carl Newman’s Warmley home was used to both store the cocaine, brought from London by Justin Green and Danny Bond, as well as manufacture wholesale amounts of ecstasy pills. Liam Waugh and David Woolley acted as onward distributors.

DI Paul Catton, who led the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit’s investigation into the drugs conspiracies, said: “Securing these convictions against a group of organised criminals who were very alive to the prospect that they were under investigation was a challenge, but ultimately the evidence we gathered against both the ‘hands on’ members and those who opted to keep their distance, was compelling.

“As such, four of the group pleaded guilty – including the primary organiser of both conspiracies, Adam Hoddinott.  His ‘guarantor’, Baker, and right-hand man Sellars, as well as David Woolley, all found recordings, phone and surveillance evidence gathered by my team stacked up against them in court.”

DI Adam Bunting, lead officer for Avon and Somerset Police, said: “This crime group used bully-boy tactics to obtain money as part of an illegal debt-collection service.

“They threatened and intimidated in order to make their victims fear for their own safety and the safety of their families.

One victim was told, “his house and family would be ‘burned down’ if he didn’t pay a substantial sum of money.”

The convictions

Drugs and blackmail conspiracies

  • Adam Hoddinott, 48, formerly of The Circle, Bath – sentenced to 12 years after pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy to supply class A (cocaine and ecstasy). Further jailed for 30 months for conspiracy to blackmail.
  • Andrew Baker, 52, formerly of Stoke Gifford, Bristol – sentenced to eight years after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply class A (cocaine). Found not guilty of conspiracy to supply ecstasy. Further jailed for 42 months for conspiracy to blackmail.

Drugs conspiracies

  • David Woolley, 54, of Valletort Rd, Plymouth – sentenced to 12 years after being found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to supply class A (cocaine and ecstasy).
  • Carl Newman, 38, of Newton Road, Cadbury Heath – sentenced to nine years and four months after pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy to supply class A (cocaine and ecstasy).
  • Liam Waugh, 30, of Withywood, Bishopsworth – sentenced to nine years and eight months after pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy to supply class A (cocaine and ecstasy).
  • Jon Gordon, 47, of Kynaston Road, Thornton Heath, London – sentenced to eight years after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply class A (cocaine).
  • Matthew Sellars, 40, formerly of Kingswood – sentenced to six years after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply class A (cocaine). Found not guilty of conspiracy to supply ecstasy and not guilty of one count of conspiracy to blackmail.
  • Justin Green, 45, of Sawyers Gove, Brentwood, London – sentenced to five years and four months after pleading guilty of conspiracy to supply class A (cocaine).
  • Danny Bond, 46, of Church Rd, Wadingham, Surrey – sentenced to four years and four months after pleading guilty of conspiracy to supply class A (cocaine).

Blackmail conspiracies

  • Andrew Wylde, 50, of Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, has been found guilty of one count of conspiracy to blackmail. Jailed for 26 months (116 days served on tag already).
  • Matthew Newman, 33, of Temple Cloud, Bristol, was found not guilty of one count of conspiracy to blackmail.

Read more on: avon and somerset police, crime...

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