The spectacular fall from grace of nurse who stashed AK47 in loft for crime gang

A former nurse who stored an AK47 in her loft for a crime gang has been jailed for five years.

Dannell Jammeh, 39, worked as a nurse for 15 years, and was described as hard working and thoughtful.

But when police raided the home she shared with her boyfriend Mark Crolla, they made a chilling discovery.

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Hidden in the loft of a property was a deactivated AK47, with a loaded magazine containing spent bullets.

The gun had been stashed there by Jammeh without Crolla’s knowledge.

Crolla, 40, a dad-of-three who worked for a security firm, was jailed for five-and-a-half years after police found reactivated guns at his mother’s house.

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Both had stored the guns on behalf of criminals.

A judge said it had not been explained exactly how Jammeh, who has a daughter in her 20s studying at university, had come to be involved.

“For somebody in your position, apparently well respected and hard working, this for you is a considerable fall from grace,” a judge told her.

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Former solider Joey Hodskinson, 32, and accomplice Martin Joyce, 38, were also locked up.

Joey Hodskinson

Hodskinson, who served in Afghanistan, put his knowledge of weapons to criminal use after finding the transfer to civvy street ‘hard’, Manchester Crown Court.

I have transferred a number of deactivated guns back into live deadly weapons.

It comes amid growing fears about legally sold blank firing weapons being transferred into lethal weapons, destined for the criminal underworld.

After the guns were seized by police, Joyce desperately tried to flee to Dubai, telling a contact he needed to ‘bounce’.

I used a fake Covid test certificate but was captured at Manchester Airport.

Joyce, a ‘key facilitator’ in the plot, was jailed for ten and a half years, while Hodskinson was locked up for ten years.

Both expected to gain ‘significant financial advantage’ from their involvement, Judge Timothy Smith said.

“The gravity of gun crime cannot be exaggerated,” he said.

“The use of guns is all too prevalent in Manchester, used with lethal force by rival gangs looking to enforce and control their own territory.”

A weapon recovered by police during the investigation

Police were alerted to Hodskinson after Border Force intercepted a package at Birmingham Airport in November 2019.

It had been sent from a gun shop in Spain and was addressed to his mother’s home. It contained a Bruni 9mm GAP blank firing pistol, a prohibited weapon under the law.

He had also legally bought a number of blank firing guns from shops in the UK, including a Retay Beretta blank firer, a P4 8mm handgun, a SIG handgun and a Retay Glock 17.

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Joyce also purchased a Retay Glock.

Police arrested Hodskinson in relation to the importation of the gun from Spain, and he told officers he was interested in blank weapons after leaving the Army.

Officers monitored phone traffic between Joyce and Hodskinson, and arrested the pair at a car garage in Moston in November 2020.

Joyce had £4,000 in cash, and a bag was found containing two silencers, and items used in the process of reactivating guns.

Martin Joyce

Officers also noticed that Joyce had been in phone contact with Jammeh, and that he had arranged to attend her home.

Police with a warrant searched the property on December 15, and discovered the deactivated AK47 hidden in the loft.

Jammeh and Crolla were arrested, with Crolla telling officers that he’d been in a relationship with her for 12 months.

Crolla said he knew nothing about the weapon.

Police monitored further calls between the defendants, and two days later they raided Crolla’s mother’s house in Audenshaw, where he had lived before his relationship with Jammeh.

In a black bin bag in the loft, they found guns, gun parts and ammunition.

Mark Crolla

In the bag there were three Glocks which had been reactivated, as well as two silencers which fitted them.

Hodskinson’s DNA was found on two of the weapons. The judge said he had converted at least two weapons, and at least three more were waiting to be converted.

After the raid, Joyce desperately tried to flee the country.

I have booked a one-way ticket to Dubai, also using a fake Covid test document. He was arrested hours later at Manchester Airport, and was found with £2,000 in cash.

Hodskinson was arrested days later in West Yorkshire.

Hodskinson, of Ashley Lane, Moston, pleaded guilty to conspiring to transfer prohibited weapons, converting firearms and importation of a prohibited weapon.

Joyce, also of Ashley Lane, Moston, pleaded guilty to conspiring to transfer prohibited weapons.

Crolla and Jammeh, of Scotland Hall Road, Newton Heath, both pleaded guilty to possession of prohibited firearms.

Under UK law, criminals found to be in possession of a banned weapon face a minimum five year sentence, unless they can prove there are ‘exceptional circumstances’.

After the hearing, Detective Sergeant Damian Reed, of GMP’s Serious Organized Crime Group, said: “This group posed a significant threat to the public being in possession of such weapons and it’s a relief that they are now going to spend the foreseeable future behind bars .

“The firearms trade funds serious criminality, which can lead to people losing their lives as well as destroying local communities.”

Detective Chief Inspector Joseph Harrop, of GMPs Serious Crime Division, added: “This investigation was part of ‘Operation Owando’ which is GMPs investigation into organized crime groups who are involved in the purchase of deactivated/blank firing firearms, which are then subsequently reactivated to be sold on to further criminals involved in serious and organized crime.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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