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Three men who helped to hide guns and bullets in a children’s playground have been jailed for firearms offences.
Robert Ketley, Reece Williams and Harrison Woods hid a loaded revolver and sawn-off shotgun at the park near Stanley Rise, Chelmsford.
After they were arrested, Williams told officers where they were hidden, along with drugs paraphernalia and shotgun cartridges.
Williams and Woods each admitted two counts of possession of a
prohibited weapon and two counts of possession of prohibited
Ketley and Woods also admitted perverting the course of justice.
All three were sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court today, Thursday 29 August.
Williams, 20, of Brookmans Road, Stock, was jailed for two years and three months.
Ketley, 24, of no fixed address, was jailed for five years.
Woods, 18, of Darlinghurst Grove, Leigh-on-Sea, was jailed for 19 months. He can now be identified after reporting restrictions were lifted.
The three men are the last of seven defendants to be sentenced following an investigation into the murder of John Pordage in Chelmsford on Saturday 5 August, 2017.
The guns hidden at the park were not directly linked to Mr Pordage’s death.
However, they had been hidden on behalf of Saul Stanley, who was present at the shooting and convicted of firearms offences related to the guns recovered from the play area.
Stanley, 20, of no fixed address, was jailed for five years.
Bradley Blundell, 20, of Cromwell Close, Boreham, was jailed for life for Mr Pordage’s murder and must serve a minimum of 22 years.
Ella Colgate, 19, of Aldridge Close, Chelmsford, was jailed for 12 months for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
An 18-year-old boy from Chelmsford – who was aged 15 at the time of his arrest – was given a community order for perverting the course of justice and handling stolen goods.
Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “This has been a long and complex investigation, and highlights the very real dangers of getting involved with gangs.
“The consequences to this behaviour do not exist in a vacuum – they impact you, your friends, your family, and other families whose lives have been changed forever by the people involved in these offences.
“In this case, these weapons would have easily been discovered by children in a play park, and we could have been here telling a very different story.
“My thoughts are with the family and friends of John Pordage today.
“Although the guns found were not linked directly to John’s murder, the presence of Saul Stanley means that John’s name has continued to be used in courtrooms across the county since his death in 2017.
“Today marks the end of a long journey for his loved ones and I hope that these sentences will mark a significant milestone and allow them to start rebuilding their lives.”
Det Supt Leighton Hammett, investigations and intelligence lead for the north local policing area, said: “Fortunately very few people in Chelmsford will be a victim of violence with injury or come into any contact with people involved in such serious crimes as those involved in this court case.
“Tackling violent and organised crime is a top priority for us and we’re working hard every day to do this.
“Some of this is visible through officers being on patrol, making arrests, speaking to the public gathering intelligence, using stop and search powers and executing warrants. Some of it you will not see as it will be done covertly to gather evidence and identify offenders”
“We carry out regular operations to target gangs and organised crime groups, and use stop and search powers as appropriate to remove weapons and drugs.
“We’ve disbanded two organised crime groups in Chelmsford and four people have been the subject of a strict gang injunction.”
Essex Police has also been given funding by the Home Office to tackle serious violent crime, in particular knife crime, which means we can do even more work in areas identified as having problems, and targeting offenders.
But arresting and charging criminals is only part of the solution. Det Supt Hammett said: “We have to educate our young people about the reality of being involved in gangs and crime, identify people who may be at risk of being exploited by criminals and intervene at an early stage.
“We do that through our partnerships with charities, schools, community groups, local authorities and other organisations that work with young people.
“We are committed to protecting and serving the people of this city, but we can’t do that without your help.
“If you see crime happening in your neighbourhood or have information to help us identify criminals, it’s really important that you tell us so we can act on it.
“If you don’t want to speak to us directly, you can contact the Crimestoppers charity anonymously.”