Former Leeds gang boss Dennis Slade released from prison after collapse of murder plot conviction

Dennis Slade, pictured left, and Michael Baxter pictured in the Yorkshire Evening Post coverage of the collapse their 2015 re-trial.
Dennis Slade, pictured left, and Michael Baxter pictured in the Yorkshire Evening Post coverage of the collapse their 2015 re-trial.

A former Leeds crime boss has been released from prison after a conspiracy to murder conviction against him was quashed.

Dennis Slade and his two “loyal henchmen” - Richard Pearman and Michael Baxter - have been released from custody nine years after they were given life sentences over a murder plot and a series of robbery offences.

Slade, left, Baxter and Pearman pictured in Yorkshire Evening Post coverage of the 2010 trial

Slade, left, Baxter and Pearman pictured in Yorkshire Evening Post coverage of the 2010 trial

All three men - once described as “Premier League” criminals - were found guilty following high-profile trials in 2009 and 2010.

Over a three-year period their daring crimes included the robbery of a Securitas van which netted them over £1m.

The murder conspiracy convictions were quashed in 2015 after the Court of Appeal ruled them to be unsafe and ordered a re-trial.

Prosecutors accused Slade, Pearman and Baxter of plotting to kill a rival by arranging for “assassins” to shoot him dead in the East End Park area of Leeds.

The re-trial collapsed when prosecutors took the decision to offer no evidence against the men midway through the hearing.

The decision meant the minimum terms they each had to serve in custody was significantly reduced.

Slade’s minimum term was reduced to ten years - making him eligible to apply to the Parole Board for release on licence in March last year.

A Parole Board panel recommended Slade’s release from jail at a hearing last month.

He has now been released with strict conditions which include wearing an electronically-monitored tag.

A Parole Board summary, seen by the Yorkshire Evening Post, states: “Evidence was presented regarding successful completion of accredited programmes to address offending behaviour.

“These courses had addressed areas including unhelpful thinking, understanding the effect of his actions upon victims, and the use of violence.

“The panel heard how well Mr Slade had demonstrated application of relevant skills and learning while in custody.

“Witnesses described good behaviour in prison, achieving trusted positions through hard work, being motivated to live an offence-free life in future, and that his risk factors and risk of future harm had been addressed through treatment programmes.

“All witnesses recommended Mr Slade’s release.”

Pearman was released from custody following a Parole Board panel hearing in July 2017.

A summary of the hearing states: “Witnesses had some concerns about his attitude and bending the rules but did not consider that his risk of causing further serious harm was likely or imminent.”

The Parole Board confirmed that a direction for Baxter’s release was made in 2016.