Dad said his 10-year prison sentence was “the worst,” but now he is serving 21 years

A father who called his 10-year prison sentence “the worst” is now starting a sentence of more than 20 years.

Gary Moffatt traded wholesale quantities of heroin, cocaine and cannabis using the handle “Smart Royal” on the encrypted communications platform EncroChat. The father, of the Spinney in Stockbridge Village, was exposed after saving a man’s life and through photos taken during his stag do in Bilbao.

The ECHO previously reported that he was locked up in 2011 as part of a gang that committed a series of violent robberies across Merseyside, including in the West Derby, Croxteth and Huyton areas. The thugs, who covered their faces with masks and balaclavas, are said to have forced their way into homes and shouted for car keys and jewellery, threatening their terrified victims with knives, swords, sledgehammers, machetes, chisels and a shotgun.

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In just two months they carried out 27 burglaries and stole a powerful Opel, a top of the range Volkswagen Golf, an exclusive Audi, 4x4s, a BMW and a fast Honda. They even stabbed victims who did not respond to their demands and threatened to cut off a pensioner’s hand if his wife did not take them to their safe.

Houses in Woolton, Childwall, Gateacre, Bootle, Prescot, Maghull, St Helens, Whiston, Lancashire and North Wales were also targeted during the crime wave, which started in December 2009 and lasted for around two months.

Moffatt and four other members of the crew – 21-year-old Jason Nee, of Lynstead Road in Dovecot, 19-year-old Craig Murphy, of Stockbridge Village, 19-year-old Anthony Akins, of Aylton Road in Huyton, and De 18- year-old Jamie Williams, of Woodlands Road, Huyton, was given a total of 40 years behind bars at Liverpool Crown Court after pleading guilty to aggravated burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary. Jamie Nee, aged 23 and also from Dovecot, was jailed for a year after admitting perverting the course of justice after reporting his Mazda 3 stolen when his young brother had actually used it to commit burglaries to commit.

A then 22-year-old Moffatt, Akins, Williams and Jason Nee were arrested on February 5, 2010 while hiding in a closet in the ladies’ room of the Granada Bingo Hall, also known as Bugsy’s, in Dovecot. Officers discovered a ‘burglar’s uniform’ consisting of balaclavas and masks on the ground around them after a high-speed chase involving the police helicopter and a stolen VW Golf R32.

Sentencing Judge John Roberts said: “This was a widespread conspiracy in which young men went out of control, went on the rampage and came to terrorize their victims at home. It was done in the belief that they could do whatever they wanted with impunity – these burglaries were truly shocking.”

The same court heard on Monday this week that data showed when French police infiltrated EncroChat in 2020 showed the now 35-year-old’s contacts had saved the username ‘SmartRoyal’ as ‘Moff’, ‘Gary Moff’ and ‘Gaz Moff’ . on their devices, while also providing his initials in messages. Moffatt, meanwhile, sent his associates photos of the interior and exterior of his home, a photo of his son and an image of his toy box with his name on it.

Henry Riding, prosecuting, described a conversation on April 20 in which the account holder referred to a crash that had occurred “outside his mother”. On this date, the suspect allegedly provided CPR to a motorist after experiencing a medical episode behind the wheel on the same street.

Other photos taken during SmartRoyal’s bachelor party in Bilbao were also shared via the service. Records showed Moffatt had previously traveled from Manchester Airport to the Spanish city via Dusseldorf.

Meanwhile, he indicated in his communications that he was driving a black Nissan Qashqai and referred to “tearing up the garden” and having artificial grass installed as such work had been completed at his home. Photos of a hand holding quantities of cannabis and prescription drugs were also found, which matched his fingerprints.

Another message, sent on May 20, stated that the sender had been “away from the kids for ten years,” and read: “He was the worst boy. He killed me, my ten.”

This is said to have been a reference to Moffatt’s 2011 sentence. Overall, his communications showed discussions about the supply of 12kg of cocaine, 3kg of heroin and up to 63kg of cannabis and cannabis resin.

Mr. Riding also referred to an exchange with “GrandFisher” in which he appeared to be attempting to sell or trade his 1892 Colt revolver and obtain .357 and .3 caliber ammunition. In these messages, SmartRoyal asked, “Can you get slugs for 357?”

The unnamed other user then replied, “I have a Colt 357. Want to trade?”

Moffatt then responded that the gun was “too big for me” and described it as “like Dirty Harry”. He added, “I might sell it if I can get a trade for it.”

Grand Power told him “I’ll buy it,” after which SmartRoyal said, “It’s a beast companion, but just too big for me. I like to just keep it on a little bag around my neck.”

Moffatt has a total of five previous convictions for twelve offenses dating back to 2007. Matthew Buckland, defending, told the court: ‘The upstream element is handled by his partner.

“They both offer brokerage services and sell for a little more than they buy for. Their margins are small and the profit margin is not what you might think at first glance.

“As for the firearm, it was not financially motivated. It was later found in an unworkable condition.

“References reveal something of a different side of Gary Moffatt. There was an emergency situation where a man was driving a motor vehicle and unfortunately went into cardiac arrest.

“Mr Moffatt was the first member of the public to stop. He dragged him out of the car for his own safety and began CPR.

“It was a long road to recovery. But before that intervention, his prognosis would not have been as good as it is now and the outcome might even have been the worst possible outcome.

“There are also generous references from boxing clubs he has given his time and expertise to, people from the community who need help. These clubs often attract people who are having problems, and it deters them from harmful use.

“He has dedicated his time and skills to helping others avoid the pitfalls he fell into. He sits at the top of his wing as a link between the staff and the prisoners.

“He’s a mentor and he’s a listener. There is one man in that prison who would not be here today without his intervention.

‘He had attempted suicide. Mr Moffatt straightened him out and got his life back on track.

“When he gets out, his only priorities are himself and his son. He doesn’t want to be in a prison cell anymore.”

Moffatt admitted conspiracy to supply heroin, cocaine, cannabis and cannabis resin, conspiracy to supply a prohibited weapon and conspiracy to possess ammunition. He was sentenced to 21 years and two months in prison.

His mother left the courtroom in tears just before this verdict was pronounced. Judge Robert Trevor-Jones told Moffatt: ‘It is clear that the effect will be most substantial as far as your young son is concerned.

“Several documents have been submitted confirming your positive aspects. It is clear that they indicate a different side of you.

“The mitigating material must be seen in the context of the last conviction you had in 2011, when you were again involved in very serious crimes. That clearly didn’t deter you.

“You wanted to sell or trade in your Colt pistol for a less cumbersome, portable and modern weapon. It can only be assumed that the potentially lethal weapon was intended for use in your drug trafficking.”

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