Dopes in the dock: Greater Manchester’s dumbest criminals

It is the stupid criminals whose foolish actions made them end up in the case.

Whether it was the woman who drove away from the court minutes after getting a driving ban, or the villain who led the police to not one but two huge hash farms, their poor judgment brought them before a judge.

Manchester courts often encounter sophisticated criminals who do everything they can to keep the law at bay.

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But the officers did not have to work too hard to bring these villains to justice.

Here, the Manchester Evening News look back at some of the dumbest criminals who appeared in Manchester courts.

The woman who drove home from court … minutes after being banned from driving



Simara button

Simara Knopka was initially dragged before a judge for driving the wrong way down the M60 and driving head-on into a car.

As part of her sentence, she was given a driving ban.

Despite that, the 39-year-old Knopka, a few minutes after leaving the court, was caught driving away by a MEN photographer.

Prosecutors described it as a “cheeky, if not mere breach of orders from the Crown Court”.

She was later brought back before the same judge and given a suspended prison sentence and a hefty fine at a court hearing last November.

“I told you specifically that before you can drive again, you must pass an extended driving test,” said recorder Nick Clarke QC.

“Yet you reaped the grace I showed by immediately driving home.”

The stupid villain who led the police to two large cannabis farms



Chadley Smith

Chadley Smith accidentally helped police uncover £ 3m and £ 750,000 cannabis farms in Blackley and Hyde.

The farm in Hyde was discovered after Smith approached a PSCO in the town center and complained about having been attacked and had his van stolen.

When he could not find the van, the officer went to look for Smith, who had disappeared.

Smith, 32, had been seen breaking into the former Astoria bingo hall, which had been uninhabited for years and had been converted into a cannabis farm.

The officer entered the bingo hall and fell over the yard at £ 750,000.

More than a year later, Smith was discovered by police at Sovereign Mill in Blackley.

When they realized he was wanted on a court order, officers followed him and they discovered an even larger ‘extremely sophisticated’ cannabis farm.

In July, Smith was jailed for three years and two months for conspiracy to produce cannabis. Four other men were jailed for their part in the cannabis farms.

‘Doomed to fail’ … the man desperate to meet a ‘girlfriend’ who made a boarding pass



Yann Ilunga

“He was doomed to fail – he should have given up and left the airport the right way,” said Yann Ilunga’s lawyer.

Ilunga was desperate to meet a ‘girlfriend’ in Dubai, and tried to board a plane using a boarding pass he had been dealing with.

He had changed the airport code on the electronic ticket on his mobile phone, from LHR (Heathrow) to MAN (Manchester Airport).

Ilunga, 25, was due to fly to Dubai from London, but bad weather meant he could not get to the capital by train.



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After failing to get through the security check, he then tried to use personal information about another passenger and was given a duplicate card after the staff had “delayed” check-in.

His fraud came to an end when he tried to board the plane at the gate and had to show his own passport, proving that the details on the boarding pass were false.

A probation report said the ‘foolish’ offense was due to ‘poor planning, third-rate actions and lack of consequential thinking’.

Ilunga from Liverpool received a suspended prison sentence in June.

The banned driver who ‘almost killed’ himself after trying to escape the police



Jordan Farrell

“Mr. Farrell does not present himself as the sharpest knife in the block,” Jordan Farrell’s own lawyer said in court.

Farrell, 22, was out driving an Audi while banned when police caught him driving too fast in Salford.

After the ensuing chase, Farrell lost control and ‘was almost killed’ after crashing into a tree.

He had driven at 60 km / h in 20 and 30 zones.

In August, Farrell of Eccles was jailed for 12 months after pleading guilty to dangerous driving, failing to stop, using an uninsured vehicle, driving while disqualified and obstructing a police officer.

“If that tree had not been there, you would have gone straight through to someone’s front lounge,” the judge told Farrell.

“The risks were significant, although I have no doubt that you simply did not consider the risks at the time.

“Fortunately, no one was injured or killed.”

The scammer who ended up being scammed himself



Ian Muschamp appeared at Bolton Crown Court

Ian Muschamp stole £ 33,000 from a church and spent money on adult websites chatting with women.

But he was later himself cheated by a man who pretended to be one of the woman who threw most of the money.

Muschamp, 67, was treasurer of Bolton’s St Helen’s Road Methodist Church.

He forged signatures on checks to withdraw cash from church accounts every month for two and a half years.

‘Jessica’, one of the ‘women’ he talked to and who swallowed most of his cash, turned out to be a man.

“There is a saying that goes ‘there is no fool like an old fool’ – and you are living proof of that,” a judge told him.

Prosecutors said his crimes caused a lot of problems for the church as future construction plans had to be put on hold,

At Bolton Crown Court last November, Muschamp was sentenced to a suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to three counts of fraud.

Drug dealers revealed after being caught in dozing in a car



Jonathan Hopkinson and William Thompson

Police officers who encountered William Thompson and Jonathan Hopkinson sleeping in a car ended up with schoolmates being exposed as drug dealers.

The couple, both 28, claimed they could not find a place to live, so they had decided to sleep in a rented gray Mercedes.

Officers left the scene after talking to them, but their suspicion was aroused again after they saw Hopkinson talking to a woman.

After searching the Mercedes and a Vauxhall Vectra parked nearby, which belonged to Thompson, officers found 13.6 grams of cocaine, digital scales, several phones and drugs with debtor lists as well as a meat mincer.

Both Hopkinson of Middleton and Thompson of Heywood pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply Class A drugs and were both jailed.

“He was in a dark place at the time and he made a very bad decision,” Thompson’s lawyer said.

“You took this on yourselves,” the judge told them.

“Class A drug trafficking is a serious offense.”

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