Three men jailed after local drug war led to arson attacks

Three men from Tameside have been jailed after a series of arson attacks, related to an ongoing criminal dispute involving the supply of cannabis.

28-year-old Grant Leigh, of Marler Road in Hyde, pleaded guilty to arson, conspiracy to produce cannabis and conspiracy to supply cannabis.

Today, he was sentenced to three years and two months in prison, which is additional to a ten month sentence, after Leigh pleaded guilty to the production of cannabis at an earlier hearing.

Daniel Matley, 24, of Highfield Close, Hyde, was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to arson, conspiracy to produce cannabis and conspiracy to supply cannabis.

And 25-year-old Jake Hulme, of Anglesey Close in Ashton also received a four year sentence at an earlier hearing. He pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cannabis and possession with intent to supply heroin and crack cocaine.

The first arson attack took place in the early hours of Christmas Day 2017 on Clayton Street, Dukinfield. The house was set alight again the following day, causing £110,000 worth of damage to the property and a vehicle parked outside.

A few weeks later, on January 13 2018, there was a deliberate car crash and violent confrontation between a group of men on Mottram Moor. Earlier that same day, a gunshot was fired in the Hattersley area before the third arson attack occurred a short distance away on Callington Drive.

The incidents were believed to be as a result of an ongoing criminal drugs dispute where a drug debt was owed.

Leigh and Matley were arrested on January 23 2018 in connection with the Christmas arson attacks.

Leigh was arrested at his home, where officers found 19 cannabis plants in his loft, as well as two mobile phones he’d tried to destroy. Matley was also arrested at home, with officers recovering petrol canisters and a document detailing how to set up a cannabis farm.

A dedicated group of detectives identified that Leigh and Matley were heading up a criminal group heavily involved with producing and supplying cannabis on a large scale, with Hulme supplying the drugs on the street and maintaining the crop.

They discovered that Leigh and Matley previously had a cannabis farm stolen from them by a rival group, which is believed to have led to the retaliatory arson attacks.

Telephone evidence revealed messages between the men discussing the attacks, as well as the production and handling of the cannabis farm.

On May 18 2018, officers arrested Hulme and searched his home address. They found £100 worth of cannabis bush, a large quantity of empty snap bags, digital scales and over £700 in cash.

Hulme was released on bail but then later arrested again in a stolen car and found to be in possession of several hundred pounds worth of heroin.

Detective Inspector Joe Harrop, of GMP’s Serious and Organised Crime Group, said: “It is thanks to the hard work of all the officers in this investigation, that these criminals have been stopped from overrunning our streets with such drugs.

“These men went to carry out the arson attacks with the intention of putting the lives of the occupants and others at risk. Thankfully no one was injured but the consequences could have been much worse.

“Drugs destroy relationships and ruin our communities, causing considerable damage not only to drug users, but also to those caught up in criminal supply groups. I hope this sentencing sends a clear message that we will pursue those who supply harmful drugs and we will go to great lengths to bring them to justice.”

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