Merseyside gangsters who plotted revenge over theft of £1 million cocaine stash convicted

Video report by Zoe Muldoon

Members of a drugs gang who plotted revenge on men they mistakenly believed had stolen their £1 million cocaine stash have been convicted after their plan was discovered in encrypted messages.

Vincent Coggins, 58, was head of the high-ranking Merseyside crime gang whose "stash house" was targeted by a group posing as delivery drivers on 23 May 2020.

They then launched a violent machete and axe attack, leaving many seriously injured, before making off with £1 million of cocaine.

Coggins then used encrypted messaging service Encrochat - which had been intercepted by international law enforcement in April 2020 - to express a desire to kill those responsible for the robbery.

Manchester Crown Court heard Coggins, who was known as the “headmaster” and used the handle moonlitboat, wrongly identified those responsible as Brian Maxwell Junior, Michael Eves and Iyobosa Igbinovia.

Four other men from Salford, Greater Manchester, were later jailed for the robbery.

  • The moment the armed men, dressed as delivery drivers, loaded the stolen £1 million of cocaine into their van

Messages between Coggins and associates including Paul Woodford, 58, Michael Earle, 48, and Edward Robert Jarvis, 59, showed discussions of plans for retribution.

Police, who were monitoring Encrochat messages, became aware of threats towards the men wrongly identified as the robbers by the Coggins organised crime group.

They issued threat-to-life notices, and attempted to warn off gang members with disruption notices.

But, as officers guarded those under threat, the gang still discussed revenge over messages.

The threats led to Maxwell Junior's father selling his home, to give money, property and land worth £1 million to the gang in a bid to save his son's life, the court heard.

  • Body cam footage shows the aftermath of the attack at the "stash house" on the Coggins gang

On 16 June 2020, three days after the Encrochat service alerted its users to the hack, the defendants were the first arrested by North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU) officers as a result of the intercepted messages.

After they were charged, Coggins, Woodford, Earle and Jarvis attempted to have the Encrochat evidence thrown out in a bid which could have impacted hundreds of other cases.

In a legal argument seen as a test case for other Encrochat trials, their lawyers claimed the evidence was inadmissible, but their attempt was eventually dismissed by the court.

Most of the defendants pleaded guilty to offences but Jarvis, of Breckside Park, Liverpool, was convicted following a trial at Manchester Crown Court, of two counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and conspiracy to commit blackmail, on Thursday, 9 May.

Reporting restrictions on the other cases were lifted on the conclusion of Jarvis’s trial.

Eight members of the Coggins organised crime group have been jailed. Credit: NWROCU

Coggins, of Woodpecker Close, Liverpool, was jailed for 28 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and conspiracy to commit blackmail.

Woodford, of Marl Road, Liverpool, was jailed for 24 years and six months and Earle, of Wallace Drive, Huyton, was jailed for 11 years after both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and conspiracy to commit blackmail.

Paul Glynn, 59, of Croxdale Road West, Liverpool, who was minding the stash house where the cocaine was stored and was attacked in the robbery, was jailed for 11 years and two months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Darren Tierney, 46, of Chatham Street, Stockport, was jailed for 12 years and nine months; Paul Fitzsimmons, 60, of Birch Tree Court, Liverpool, was jailed for 12 years and six months; Kevin Rimmer, 57, of Blacklow Brow, Huyton, was jailed for 16 years; and Dean Borrows, 39, of Ledson Grove, Liverpool, was jailed for 16 years after all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.