A MAN has been handed a suspended sentence as part of a shipping container theft involving £769,000 worth of Playstations, writes Peter Magill.

Darren Brown, of Orchard Lane, Leigh was found guilty of handling stolen goods in the case.

The 38-year-old was part of a gang connected with the disappearance of nearly 3,000 Playstation 3 Slim consoles, which were en-route to Felixstowe Docks in Suffolk.

In the late summer of 2016, the consoles had yet to be officially released when lorry driver Christopher Champion was asked to take a consignment of the Playstations from Wellingborough, Northamptonshire to the port.

The consoles were due to be shipped out to Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia, a month before Sony planned to unveil the new version of the console the following September.

Police say the container was intercepted though and delivered instead to an address in Essex, where it was unloaded.

But Champion, 41 of Upland Road, St Helens was caught out when he returned to the docks and his vehicle was found to be considerable underweight, it was said.

Leigh Journal:

Christopher Champion, from St Helens

He was jailed for eight years after being convicted of theft and handling stolen goods.

As well as Brown, Champion's accomplice Keith Williams, 45, of Napier Drive, Horwich was found guilty of handling stolen goods.

Williams was given two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, with a 26-week curfew, a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement order and told to perform 180 hours of community service.

Brown was given the same suspended sentence and curfew requirements, as well as 35 days of rehabilitation activities and 240 hours community service.

Another gang member, Robert Ratcliff, 48, from Staines-upon-Thames, was jailed for three years over the theft.

Another two men, from Chorley and Wigan, were cleared after a jury trial. A seventh man was judged not fit to stand trial.

Det Inspector John Allison, of Suffolk Police's cyber, intelligence and serious organised crime directorate, said: "This was a lengthy and complex investigation supported through a close working relationship with Sony Interactive Entertainment.

"The hard work and tenacity shown by all of those involved is indicative of our commitment to bringing those involved in organised crime to justice."