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Monday, 10 July, 2000, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
The day the bullets flew
Police in Greater Manchester
Police say they have never witnessed such scenes of violence
It was a routine police check which sparked a dramatic car chase and shooting spree the like of which had never been before on the streets of Rochdale.

The drama began to unfold when three men were spotted by plain clothes police in two cars on the hard shoulder of the M6 near Lancaster in Lancashire on 23 April 1999.

Two uniformed officers later called to pull the car over as it sped along the M61 near Bolton, Greater Manchester, could not have anticipated what happened next.

Neither Lancashire nor Greater Manchester police had ever had to deal with anything of this magnitude before

Detective Superintendent Dave Brown

Three men were jailed on Monday for a total of nearly 200 years.

Their seven-week trial at Manchester Crown Court had heard about a spree of violence described as "one of the most remarkable episodes in our recent criminal history".

From his passenger seat in the car driven by Andrew Dennis, Olatunde Adetoro opened fire repeatedly on the unsuspecting PC David Bentley, wounding him in the leg.

'Bullet parted my hair'

The 34-year-old Lancashire police officer later described how one of the bullets "parted his hair".

If he had not have ducked, it could well have hit him squarely in the chest.

But the two officers had no time to waste, as the car then continued on a course that was to lead them and other officers on a mad 50-mile chase through the streets.

Police take chase
The chase continued for 50 miles

A total of five people were shot, there were attempts to kill police officers with a Kalashnikov rifle, a woman was taken hostage and cars hijacked in a tale of events more fitting for Los Angeles than Greater Manchester.

After taking the first shots at police, the car left the M61 near Bolton, turning into a side road before stopping again.

Adetoro appeared with a handgun and fired two further shots at the policemen.

Brandishing a Kalashnikov

He then got out of the car and pulled terrified motorist Melanie Williams from her Ford Fiesta, threatening to shoot her.

Lorry driver, Ronald Carr, saw the whole unbelievable scene and acted quickly to try to stop the rampaging duo.

Mr Carr reversed to block the road to prevent them driving away in the Fiesta, but this caused an angered Adetoro to get out of the car brandishing a Kalashnikov.

He aimed it at the lorry's cab, but fortunately for Mr Carr the gun misfired.

Undeterred, the two men continued on their way, trading in the Ford Fiesta for a faster BMW by hijacking a woman at traffic lights in Bolton.

Not content with terrifying motorists, they then kidnapped a 27-year-old pedestrian, Amanda Ryan, at gunpoint before firing at police again.

The chase continued and five innocent people were shot and injured in the space of just a few minutes.

Incredible chase

The high speed drama finally came to an end about a mile from Rochdale town centre when Dennis finally lost control and the car hit a lamp post.

The would-be getaway driver of the second car, Francis Dixon, had earlier been arrested by police.

Andrew Dennis
Dennis was the driver of the car

After the three men were sentenced, Detective Superintendent Dave Brown praised the courage and bravery of police who took part in last year's incredible chase.

"Neither Lancashire nor Greater Manchester police had ever had to deal with anything of this magnitude before. It tested our resources, but we dealt with it," he said.

One of the police officers involved in the chase, 24-year-old PC Alex Challenor, who served for six months in Bosnia with the Royal Engineers, said outside court: "I have seen levels of violence in Bosnia, but I have never witnessed, and never want to witness again, in the police service the level of violence I saw there last year."

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10 Jul 00 | UK
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