This is the moment armed police swoop on a man as he unwittingly cycled away from a crime scene with hand grenades in his rucksack.
Cops forced Graham Wellings, 56, off his bike, pinned him to the ground and found two hand grenades in his bag.
The army’s bomb disposal squad had to be called to make the two grenades safe, and almost 400 residents of Gorse Hill in Stretford had to be evacuated as part of a huge police operation across two days which smashed a cocaine, heroin and cannabis supply racket.
Mr Wellings was cleared of all charges after a trial, after he told jurors he thought he had been handed cannabis, not grenades.
Others face lengthy sentences after admitting their roles in the drugs and guns gang.
Mr Wellings’ trial heard how the police operation had started with a search of garages beside Milton Court on Tuesday January 26, last year, and continued for the rest of the week, with raids in some of the flats themselves.
As the police activity continued, Minshull Street Crown Court heard how Nathan Morgan, the outfit’s boss, had become increasingly paranoid.
Morgan, 37, called a member of his drugs gang, Gary Davies, on the nearby Lakes estate. Davies’ flat at Derwent Road boasted an industrial drugs press and he was a central figure in the class A drugs supply operation.
At the behest of Morgan, Davies summoned Mr Wellings, who at one time lived at Davies’ flat, and handed him an empty rucksack and a bike, the court had heard.
Mr Wellings cycled across Stretford to Milton Court, where Morgan gave him a package containing two live hand grenades, despite the heavy police presence in the area.
In his defence during his trial, Mr Wellings said he had been duped into smuggling the grenades away from Milton Court, insisting he believed the package contained just cannabis.
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A user of heroin and cocaine, he claimed he had reluctantly agreed to move the package to wipe out a £400 drugs debt.
During trial, Mr Wellings said he ‘would have been absolutely insane’ to agree to smuggle the grenades.
“I was taking a risk. I just thought it was only a couple of hundred pounds of class B, you know,” he said.
But, as Mr Wellings cycled away, he was unaware he was being watched by undercover cops – and moments later armed police swooped in a nearby residential street. The grenades were found inside a bag which was inside a drawstring bag within the rucksack.
The discovery prompted a huge evacuation of much of Gorse Hill, with some of the 400 residents forced out of their homes and taken to Stretford Leisure Centre.
A jury found Wellings, of Church Road in Stretford, not guilty of conspiracy to possess explosives, namely two hand-grenades.
He was also acquitted of conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine.
Cops found grenades and gold pistol during raids
Morgan controlled the operation from his and a number of other flats at Milton Court, an unassuming block at the junction of Talbot Road and Chester Road in Gorse Hill.
The gang leader was said to be amazed police hadn’t come though his apartment door when they raided an adjacent flat of another member of his gang, mother-of-two Sarah Tervet, 42, at 2am on January 28 last year.
In her cupboard, cops found two grenades, a pistol with a gold-coloured trigger with a bullet-laden magazine, and a video cassette box stuffed with ammunition.
Tervet told cops at the time she had no idea about the weaponry in the cupboard, which she said she used to store a Christmas tree. But actually she was a member of the gang and had allowed the items to be stored there.
After reading updates about the police operation in live coverage on the M.E.N. website, Morgan became ‘increasingly concerned and paranoid’, a court heard.
He wrote a series of increasingly panicky messages – later uncovered by police – to his associates.
The messages were heard in court and in one, he wrote: “They are back creeping about. It’s madness… Seen two heading this way. F*** knows what’s going on.”
In another he said: “Game over g!”
Morgan previously pleaded guilty to possessing the grenades and ammunition found in the cupboard, and conspiracy to supply class A drug.
The jurors have been told Mr Davies had died in custody before his trial.
On the eve of Mr Wellings’ trial, Tervet pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess prohibited firearms and conspiracy to possess ammunition.
Another member of the gang, Brian Day, 49, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess prohibited firearms and two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs. Two guns were found in a cupboard of his flat at Milton Court. His DNA was found on the weapons.
The four will be sentenced at a future date alongside another member of the gang, Gareth Curtis, 44, also of Milton Close.