Dopey crime dad rumbled by eagle-eyed cops as he watched Spider-Man with feet up

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    A photo of a dad with his feet up watching Spider-Man put an end to his stint as a cocaine trafficker.

    Darren Ablett was rumbled after EncroChat messages were infiltrated revealing chatter about "blowing wigs off," luxury cars and "making millions."

    Detectives delved into the network – used by the criminal underworld to trade in drugs and illegal weapons – and combed through communications of the service user "HonestMallet" and "IvyHound" who had been connected to the supply of 27.5kg of cocaine, the Liverpool Echo reports.

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    A whole host of clues led them straight to Ablett's door in Melling.

    In one of the messages, he said he'd made warnings to one of his debtors, in which he was said to have threatened that he was "gonna blow his and his dad's wigs off".

    One early hint came in a message Ablett had sent to "AcidChest" – later revealed to be his "very close associate" Craig Gallagher, from Childwall, from his Honest Mallet handle on April 3, 2020.

    Gallagher was locked up for 24 years earlier this month after the 36-year-old gang boss admitted conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy to supply cannabis, conspiracy to convert criminal property and assisting an offence of conspiracy to transfer firearms –

    In the message, he gave detailed instructions of a location on Station Road, only metres away from his address on Waddicar Lane, for a handover of cash.

    Then, on April 22, "FierceCrow" – described as an "international drug trafficker" whose identity is unknown – agreed a deal to sell him cocaine at a price of ยฃ37,000 per kilogram. Ablett would provide the postcode of a street "immediately adjacent" to his road for a subsequent drop-off.

    But even bigger giveaways came in the form of pictures he had sent to other EncroChat users. One, posted to Fierce Crow on April 16, showed him with his feet up on a sofa underneath a blanket.

    A television in the background beyond a pool table displays what appear to be the opening credits of the 2002 Spider-Man film, featuring Tobey Maguire. Tellingly, the image also shows a "luxury extension" to his house – including its "distinctive glass roof".

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    Another photo, sent to "FrostyWater" – whom he had spoken of "making millions together" with – on April 26, showed Ablett's white Mercedes-AMG C43 on the driveway of the same property.

    A trial at Liverpool Crown Court heard that he had used his daughter's name and birthday as his password, while Fierce Crow made a reference to his child having previously made a cameo appearance in Hollyoaks.

    Further evidence came via communications between Fierce Crow and "AtomicMantis" – who would ultimately be unmasked as James Duckworth, jailed for 16-and-a-half years in February 2021 after the then 42-year-old, of Langdale Close in Kirkby, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs, conspiracy to convert criminal property and possession of criminal property.

    Their chat on May 27 2020 centred on Ablett's arrest over other matters after handing himself in at Copy Lane Police Station.

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    Police later executed a search warrant at Ablett's home early on June 16 2021. The 40-year-old attempted to escape via skylight window in order to avoid being arrested, climbing onto the roof of his rear extension.

    At his trial, Ablett was found unanimously guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine and was jailed for 20 years.

    Sentencing, Judge Stuart Driver KC said that he had been "convicted on overwhelming evidence".

    Detective Sergeant James Boardman said following his conviction: โ€œAblett, like many offenders before him, thought he was hiding behind a secure communications system. Instead, he collected damning evidence of his own drug supply and will face a long spell in prison."

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