Drug dealer jailed after escaping prison

A CRIMINAL has been sent back to prison after being caught in a manhunt – with a man named named as being shot in a murder.

Gavin Phythian was tracked down after failing to return to HMP Thorn Cross in Warrington on Tuesday, June 21.

Intelligence led to reports of the 33-year-old travelling in a blue Volkseagen Golf that was sighted by a plain-clothed police officer on Friday, July 22 on Manchester Road.

Gavin Phythian

The driver, Anton Verigotta, of Failsworth, however spotted police and began to drive dangerously through the town centre in an attempt to evade being detained.

A pursuit took place until the vehicle was intercepted and brought to a stop.

Phythian, and 31-year-old Verigotta – who the National Crime Agency as being shot in a 2018 incident that saw Luke Graham killed in broad daylight in Ashton – then abandoned the vehicle on Richmond Street and fled.

A search of the car resulted in crack cocaine and heroin being seized along with large amounts of cash.

Verigotta was located by police a short time later and arrested.

However, Phythian remained on the run. An investigation into his whereabouts continued until he was arrested at the Premier Inn hotel, in Hattersley on Thursday, August 25.

On Monday, March 13, Phythian and Verigotta appeared at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court to be sentenced after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing.

Phythian, of no fixed address, was sentenced to three years and one month for escaping lawful custody and being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine.

Verigotta was sentenced to four years and eight months for dangerous driving, money laundering and possession with intent to supply crack cocaine and heroin.

PC Dan Metcalfe, of Greater Manchester Police’s Tameside Challenger organised crime team, said: “Phythian knew he was wanted by police when he failed to return to HMP Thorn Cross yet was determined to do all he could to prevent being caught.

“With assistance from Verigotta, he was quickly back in the organised crime game, supplying class A drugs for a profit.

“Another drug dealer has been put behind bars, however it also serves as a warning to criminals already serving a sentence.

“If you flee, do not think you will simply go back to prison to serve your current sentence, you will receive extra jail time for escaping lawful custody.”

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