A painstaking two-year murder investigation has been brought to a close with the end of a court case involving the last of three defendants arrested in connection with our enquiries.
John Pordage, 34, was shot in Baddow Road, Chelmsford, in the early hours of Saturday 5 August, 2017 and died in hospital a short time later.
Saul Stanley, then aged 18, was arrested in connection with the police investigation and charged with various firearms offences, perverting the course of justice and handling stolen goods.
Stanley, of no fixed address, was convicted in February 2018 and jailed the following month for five years.
In the hours after Mr Pordage’s murder, he had made arrangements for a revolver, sawn-off shotgun and bullets to be removed from a house where he had been staying in Chelmsford.
They were put in a wheelie bin and Robert Ketley, Reece Williams and a 15-year-old boy arrived at the house the next day to take it away.
But the occupants of the address called police.
The bin was later found in an alleyway. There were no firearms or ammunition inside, but there were bags of household waste and half a bin bag of cannabis. A plastic bag was found to have Ketley’s fingerprints on it.
Ketley, Williams and the teenager were arrested that afternoon. While in custody, Williams told officers where the firearms had been hidden. In the early hours of Monday 7 August, 2017, they were found wrapped in carrier bags hidden in a children’s playground near Stanley Rise.
Officers recovered a revolver loaded with five rounds of ammunition and a sawn-off shotgun that was in the locked position ready to be fired and loaded with two live cartridges. There were also shotgun cartridges and drugs paraphernalia.
Williams, 20, of Brookmans Road, Stock; Ketley, 24, of no fixed address; and the teenager, now aged 17, of Leigh-on-Sea, were charged in January this year.
They were each charged with two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon, two counts of possession of prohibited ammunition, and one count of perverting the course of justice.
The teenager, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, admitted the charges at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday 12 July.
Ketley initially denied the offences but changed his pleas to guilty on the first day of his trial on Wednesday 24 July.
He was found not guilty of that charge yesterday, Thursday 1 August.
All three are due to be sentenced later this month, at a date yet to be decided.
Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “This case highlights once again the risks of getting involved with criminal groups.
“These individuals were asked to recover firearms and drugs.
“They are now facing the possibility of imprisonment.
“It is incredible to think they hid guns in a children’s play area.
“Both were loaded with live ammunition. The possible consequences of a child finding these weapons is chilling.
“Although the guns subject of these convictions were not directly linked to the murder of John Pordage, the case itself was linked via Saul Stanley, who was present at the shooting and convicted of firearms offences related to the guns recovered from the play area.
“This brings to a close a painstaking investigation involving three court cases and seven defendants.
“My thoughts are also with John’s family and friends.
“We await the sentences but I hope it brings them some comfort that the judicial proceedings are now over and that justice has been achieved for John.
“We are committed to getting guns off our streets and we continue to work tirelessly to tackle such serious crime.
“I appeal to anyone who knows of any unlawful possession of firearms to contact us so that we can get them off the streets and bring offenders to justice.”
This court case brings to a close a two-year investigation into the death of Mr Pordage.
Bradley Blundell, 20, of Cromwell Close, Boreham, was convicted of his murder in December 2018.
He was jailed for life to serve a minimum of 22 years in January this year.
Ella Colgate, 19, of Aldridge Close, Chelmsford, was convicted of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in December 2018 and jailed for 12 months in January this year.
Saul Stanley, 20, of no fixed address, was convicted in January 2018 of two counts of possession of a prohibited firearm, one count of possession of ammunition without a certificate and perverting the course of justice. He was jailed for five years in March 2018.
An 18-year-old boy from Chelmsford who was aged 15 at the time of his arrest admitted perverting the course of justice and handling stolen goods in January 2018.
He was sentenced in March 2018 to a 12-month community order and 40 hours of unpaid work.