A drug kingpin known as The Headmaster whose hitman gunned down nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel has been jailed for 28 years after police smashed his cocaine gang. 

Vincent Coggins, 58, was the head of Merseyside’s notorious Huyton Firm and ordered attacks on rivals like the one that killed Olivia. The child’s killer, Thomas Cashman, was a hitman for Coggins before he was sentenced to life for her murder. 

Coggins and his older brother Francis built up a powerful organised crime group that was involved in international drug trafficking – aided by connections forged with fellow gangsters in Spain. 

He has now finally been brought to justice after officers intercepted Encrochat messages that show them plotting revenge on men they mistakenly believed were responsible for robbing them. 

On May 23, 2020, a ‘stash house’ in Huyton used by Coggins’ gang was targeted by a group who posed as delivery drivers before launching a machete and axe attack and stealing more than £1 million of cocaine.

Vincent Coggins, 58, was the head of Merseyside's notorious Huyton Firm and ordered attacks on rivals like the one that killed Olivia

Vincent Coggins, 58, was the head of Merseyside’s notorious Huyton Firm and ordered attacks on rivals like the one that killed Olivia

In communications sent on Encrochat, Coggins, who used the handle moonlitboat, expressed a desire to kill those responsible for the robbery, whom he incorrectly identified as Brian Maxwell Junior, Michael Eves and Iyobosa Igbinovia.

Four other men from Salford, Greater Manchester, were later jailed for the robbery.

Messages between Coggins and associates including Paul Woodford, 58; Michael Earle, 48; and Edward Robert Jarvis, 59; showed discussions of plans for revenge.

Police, who were monitoring Encrochat messages after the encrypted messaging network was cracked by police in 2020, became aware of threats towards the men wrongly identified as the robbers.

Threat-to-life notices were issued and the defendants were subject to disruption notices from police.

Those threats led to Maxwell Jr’s father, Brian Maxwell Senior, giving money, property and land worth £1million to the gang in a bid to save his son’s life, the court heard.

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On June 16, 2020, three days after the Encrochat service alerted its users to the hack, the defendants were the first arrested by North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU) officers as a result of the intercepted messages.

Armed Spanish police stormed a villa in the Costa del Sol linked to the brothers in 2017 but they were never charged. Four cannabis farms yielding £6.4million annually were also raided by police. 

Armed Spanish police stormed a villa in the Costa del Sol linked to the brothers in 2017 but they were never charged

Armed Spanish police stormed a villa in the Costa del Sol linked to the brothers in 2017 but they were never charged

A man being arrested during the raid on the property in the Costa del Sol

A man being arrested during the raid on the property in the Costa del Sol 

Large numbers of marijuana plants were also recovered in the raid on the villa

Large numbers of marijuana plants were also recovered in the raid on the villa 

Encrochat messages show the Coggins brothers messaging each other about a cocaine deal worth £16million and paying off a corrupt police officer nicknamed ‘piggy’, the Mirror reports. 

Another message shows Vincent threatening to torture one local businessman, texting in broken English: ‘Then we deside weather we slash him, chop his fingers off or wotever.’

He later boasted about slashing the man with a knife, writing ‘slash across face an smashed his eyes in an took half an ear an tonge’.  

After they were charged, Coggins, Woodford, Earle and Jarvis attempted to have the Encrochat evidence thrown out in a bid which could have impacted hundreds of other cases.

In a legal argument seen as a test case for other Encrochat trials, their lawyers claimed the evidence was inadmissible, but their attempt was eventually dismissed by the court.

Most of the defendants pleaded guilty to offences but Jarvis, of Breckside Park, Liverpool, was convicted yesterday, following a trial at Manchester Crown Court, of two counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and conspiracy to commit blackmail.

Reporting restrictions on the other cases were lifted on the conclusion of Jarvis’s trial.

Coggins, of Liverpool, was jailed for 28 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and conspiracy to commit blackmail.

Woodford, of Liverpool, was jailed for 24 years and six months and Earle, of Huyton, was jailed for 11 years after both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and conspiracy to commit blackmail.

Paul Glynn, 59, of Liverpool, who was minding the stash house where the cocaine was stored and was attacked in the robbery, was jailed for 11 years and two months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Darren Tierney, 46, of Stockport, was jailed for 12 years and nine months; Paul Fitzsimmons, 60, of Liverpool, was jailed for 12 years and six months; Kevin Rimmer, 57, of Huyton, was jailed for 16 years; and Dean Borrows, 39, of Liverpool, was jailed for 16 years after all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Olivia was shot dead in her own house after Cashman burst in chasing drug dealer Joseph Nee

Olivia was shot dead in her own house after Cashman burst in chasing drug dealer Joseph Nee 

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