Five jailed after Beeston turf war gunfire leads to ‘secret’ safe

A secret safe containing nearly £1 million in cash was uncovered at a house in Beeston after a gun was fired at the address during a drugs turf war.

Drug dealer Damien Ali was charged with concealing criminal property after the huge haul of cash was found at his address in March 2022.

His father Hamid Ali was also charged with the same offence. He had approached officers on a scene guard in Beeston on March 1 and reported that unknown suspects had set fire to his home in Town Street, Beeston, earlier that evening. He also told them that a few days previously a firework had been thrown at the property.

Officers went to the address and found damage that was consistent with a firearms discharge.

A scene was put in place to undergo forensic examination and Hamid Ali consented to a search of the property.

On 5 March, police search specialists discovered two safes side by side secreted beneath the sawdust-strewn tiled floor of an outbuilding where a dog was kept.

The ‘secret’ safes at Town Street

A locksmith was called in to open the safes which were found to contain a large amount of cash.

One safe had 365 bundles of Bank of England notes and the other contained numerous bundles of notes in bag-for-life carrier bags along with two shortbread biscuit tins stuffed with cash. The total amount recovered was just short of £1 million.

A bag stuffed with cash found at Town Street

Damien Ali and Hamid Ali were arrested on 7 March and interviewed about the money.

Their fingerprints were found on a carrier bag from one of the safes.

A prescription type label was found in an empty carrier bag in one safe with another man’s details on. This led officers to search an address in Northcote Green, Beeston, on 6 April 2022.

In the one-bedroom flat officers discovered large amounts of cash and Class A drugs.

This included a cupboard full of cash and large amounts of suspected Class A drugs, confirmed as being 1.14kg of cocaine and 743g of heroin and a total of £329,636 cash and £224,000 of watches.

Another cupboard contained a compressed block of white powder, later forensically confirmed as being 689g of cocaine, and another contained a compressed block of brown powder, later confirmed as 497g of heroin. A JD bag containing £61,020 in bank notes was found next to it.

Officers recovered further amounts of cash totalling more than £200,000 along with various other amounts of Class A drugs, including some in a large trunk in the living room with the word ‘drugs’ written across it. A money counting machine, scales, gloves and other dealing paraphernalia were also found.

Fingerprints linked both Damien Ali and Hamid Ali to items in the address and they were subsequently charged with being concerned in the supply of cocaine and heroin.

The occupant of the flat, Alan Vessey, aged 53, was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison in October 2022 after being convicted of possession of heroin and cocaine with intent to supply and possession of criminal property in relation to the cash.

Damien Ali was again the subject of a proactive investigation by specialist officers from Leeds District Programme Precision Team, which targets serious and organised, crime in October 2022.

Enquiries by the team led to a search warrant being executed at an address in Green Lane, Beeston, where cash and Class A drugs were recovered, and four men were arrested. A vehicle linked to the investigation was subsequently stopped by roads policing officers and half a kilo of cocaine was recovered after Ali attempted to flee the scene.

Ali was charged with drugs offences including conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and possession with intent to supply Class A drugs.

Also charged in the same investigation were Jordan Staten, Jason Pallas and John Collett. All pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

At Leeds Crown Court yesterday (29 January 2024), Damien Ali, aged 42, of Town Street, Beeston, was sentenced to 10 years and two months.

Hamid Ali, aged 61, of Waverley Garth, Beeston, was sentenced to five years.

Jordan Staten, aged 34, of Normanton Place, Beeston, was sentenced to 28 months.

Jason Pallas, aged 46, of no fixed address, was sentenced to four years and three months.

John Collett, aged 37, of Bismarck Street, Beeston was sentenced to five years and 10 months.

Detective Inspector Michael Herbert, who heads Leeds District Programme Precision Team, said:

“Damien Ali has played a very significant role in the organised supply of Class A drugs in Leeds for some time and is responsible for a large amount of the serious harm that this illicit trade creates in our communities.

“His drug dealing activities have been linked to a number of violent incidents in south Leeds, including where firearms have been discharged, which illustrates the wider dangers that it brings.

“The huge amounts of money that have been uncovered during our investigations show just how much people like him profit from the human misery that Class A drugs bring to individual users, their families and to local communities where they fuel crime and anti-social behaviour.

“We will be continuing to proactively target individuals like him, and we hope the significant sentences he and his associates have received will provide some reassurance to our communities.”

 

This post is based on a press release issued by West Yorkshire Police

Main photo: the crime scene on Town Street on 2 March 2022.  Photo: Jeremy Morton

 

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