Today (Friday 1 July 2022), at Preston Crown Court, 10 members of the same gang were jailed for a total of 131 years. After being found guilty, at an earlier hearing, of conspiracy to murder, Harry Oni (15/05/03) of Mythorn Walk, Manchester was sentenced to 21 years imprisonment; Jeffery Ojo (27/01/01) of Newick Walk, Manchester 21 years, Gideon Kalumda (21/01/02) of William Lister Close, Manchester 21 years; and Brooklyn Jitobah (30/08/03) of Bluestone Road, Manchester 20 years.
For conspiracy to commit Section 18 assault, Simon Thorne (25/03/03) of Rhine Drive, Manchester was sentenced to eight years imprisonment; Martin Thomas (14/02/03) of Broadoak Road, Manchester eight years; Ademola Adedeji (01/06/03) of Beehive Road, Bolton eight years; Raymond Savi (27/01/03) of Droylsden Road, Manchester eight years; Omolade Okoya (24/02/03) of Whitecar Avenue, Manchester eight years; and Azim Okunola (10/10/02) of Silvercroft Street, Manchester eight years.
The court was told that the 10 defendants were all members of a gang called the ‘M40’ or ‘40’, named after the postcode of the area in which the gang originated. The gang also called themselves ‘2×2’, ‘4s’, ‘Lane Boys’ or ‘Laners’.
In Autumn 2020, the gang ‘had beef’ with one or more rival gangs called ‘PMG’, ‘RTD’ or ‘706’, who were based in Oldham and Rochdale. The conflict came to a head on Bonfire Night 2020 when, in one of three acts of violence, ‘M40’ gang member Alexander John Soyoye was cornered in his gang’s ‘territory’ before being stabbed and beaten to death.
Within days if not hours of the murder of Alexander John Soyoye, the defendants were plotting to avenge his death by violently targeting one or more of the rival gang members whom they believed to be responsible. Adedeji aka ‘Stormzy’, Savi aka ‘RS’, Okoya aka ‘O1’ and Okunola aka ‘Y’ or ‘Y Hushpuppi’ identified the targets and sought out information about their movements and wherabouts. Oni aka ‘BP’, Ojo aka ‘B9’, Kalumda aka ‘Jamie Trapp’, Jitoboh aka ‘Striker’, Thorne aka ‘SJ’ and Thomas aka ‘MJ’ acquired weapons and went out to locate and attack.
The plot was foiled when Oni was arrested for violent disorder in connection with the incidents on the evening of Alexander John Soyeye’s death. During analysis of his mobile phone, officers broke the encryption of a messaging service, revealing messages between the defendants regarding attacks which had been carried out and others in planning.
The court was shown CCTV footage of M40 gang members carrying out a number of attacks on individuals. Detective Superintendent Nat Dalby, of GMP’s Rochdale district, said: “Today is the culmination of a lengthy investigation by Rochdale’s Serious and Organised Crime Team. After utilising the skills of specialist colleagues to break the encryption of a messaging service, the investigation team found hundreds of thousands of communications proving that these ten men had entered in to an agreement to kill or seriously injure a number of individuals.
“Their plans, some of which had been executed and others which remained in planning, posed a serious threat of harm to their targets as well as a very real risk to members of the public. “This case shines a light on the type of work which is ongoing, often behind the scenes, to prevent and reduce violent crime across Greater Manchester – ultimately keeping our communities safe. This positive outcome should reassure members of the public and warn offenders that those involved in both the planning and execution of acts of violence will be prosecuted and brought to face justice, where they should expect to feel the full force of the system.”