Burglars targeted a rented Heywood unit with counterfeit cigarettes resulting in the death of a man

A BUSINESSMAN has died trying to protect a storage unit he rented – which contained £800,000 worth of counterfeit cigarettes – after a violent gang targeted it in a burglary.

On the evening of October 28, 2020, a security officer at Callop Gate Farm in Heywood told police that eight men had attempted to break into one of the secure storage containers, which later contained a large amount of cigarettes inside.

Businessman Peter Cordwell, 49, leased the storage units to businesses.

The gang removed the locked farm gates and drove two vehicles.

Alerted to the break-in, Peter went to the scene to try to thwart the attackers.

Also present was Peter’s son who blocked the exit from the unit before he and the security guard were violently attacked.

They sought refuge in Peter’s car, which was also attacked, with the defendants smashing the windshield with weapons.

Fearing for their lives, Peter drove away from the scene where he tragically suffered a heart attack and died nearby, while the defendants fled the scene.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have launched Operation Orchid to investigate Peter’s death.

Following a number of investigations by a team of detectives from GMP’s Challenger and Major Incident Support Units, including telephone enquiries, ANPR checks, media calls and ID parades, four men were arrested and later charged.

Four men appeared at Manchester Crown Court yesterday afternoon, Wednesday, where they were jailed after all pleading guilty to aggravated burglary and conspiracy to burgle.

Ahmad Mirza, 37, of Norris Street, Lincoln, was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Ahmad Mirza

Kurdistan Hamid, 40, of Norris Street, Lincoln, was sentenced to 11 years and eight months in prison.

Burial hours:

Hamid from Kurdistan

Saman Ali, 31, of Belmont Avenue, Blackpool, was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Burial hours:

Saman Ali

Ali Karimi, 38, of Fir Grove, Blackpool, was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Burial hours:

Ali Karimi

Senior Investigator Duncan Thorpe, of the Major Crimes Division, said: ‘This was a burglary gone wrong which tragically ended with the death of an innocent man and our thoughts are with many to Peter’s loved ones today.

“The defendants were part of a nationwide organized crime group that sold counterfeit cigarettes before locating where they had been stored by the buyer and repossessing them.

“The violence they used towards the victims that evening was deplorable and shows their ruthless and dangerous state of mind.

“We have been committed from day one to ensuring these people are brought to justice and we will continue to crack down on organized crime in Greater Manchester.”

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