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FITZGIBBON 'JOINED GUN GANG AFTER SHOOTINGS' Court hears of 'revenge conspiracy'.

Byline: CHLOE GRIFFITHS

JURORS have heard of two shooting attacks which are alleged to have sparked a man into joining a team's "campaign of violence".

Five men are alleged to have carried out a two-year crime-wave involving terrifying grenade attacks, close-range shootings and an abduction.

Liverpool Crown Court has heard the "team" of Tony Downes, Kirk Bradley, both 25, Gary Wilson, 26, Craig Riley, 24, and 22-year-old Joseph Farrell were all prepared to "endanger lives" using lethal explosives and firearms.

During their alleged plot an innocent paramedic was blasted in his own home, another man had to have his leg amputated after a daylight shooting and a grandmother and young boy were forced to flee their home after a grenade was thrown through their window.

The jury of seven women and five men were yesterday told of two incidents that prosecutors claim triggered a sixth man, Colin Fitzgibbon, 40, to join the gang's firearms plot for revenge.

Richard Pratt QC, prosecuting, first played a clip which he said showed three men getting out of a car and blasting at Fitzgibbon's mum's house on West Oakhill Park, Old Swan, on September 1, 2009. He also read a statement from Merseyside Police's Det Con Anthony Malcolm, who said: "At 2.43am a dark coloured vehicle arrived at the scene with three males on board, all of them are in full disguises. The driver alighted with a handgun, the rear seat passenger alighted with a full-length shotgun."

DC Malcolm told how the men walked towards the house before firing their weapons. The officer detailed how about three months later, Fitzgibbon's family were again targeted. DC Malcolm told how officers were called to the Rocket interchange by the M62 motorway entrance on November 27, 2009, following reports of a shooting.

When he arrived the officer said he found two badly damaged cars. One - a black Ford Focus - was being driven by Fitzgibbon's younger brother Brian, 27. His two-year-old son was also inside the vehicle.

DC Malcolm said: "I examined the vehicle and was shown a number of bullet holes on the near side of the Ford Focus by armed response officers. I then spoke to Brian Fitzgibbon who stated he had been driving the vehicle at the time it was attacked by an unknown male. He said he had been shot at through the nearside of the vehicle by an offender who was in a black three-door Vauxhall Astra which pulled up alongside him in the road way."

Mr Pratt then read a statement from PC Andrew Aspell, who said that about an hour after the attack Colin Fitzgibbon was seen at the scene of the shooting with co-accused Gary Wilson and a third man. The PC said the men were paying "close attention to the police activity".

In the hours after the shooting, Mr Pratt alleges mobile phone evidence shows Fitzgibbon was in regular telephone contact with Wilson, who in turn repeatedly contacted fellow accused Tony Downes.

The barrister has previously told the jury: "This (shooting) coming as it did on the back of another firearms attack on his family home, we say, persuaded Colin Fitzgibbon to take retributive action. He effectively recruited the others in the conspiracy to arrange firearm attacks on his enemies.

"That was done on December 2 and a further attack was planned for December 3, but at that stage the police intercepted a car carrying a group of men and significantly a Browning luger pistol - it was cocked and ready for action."

He added: "The case against him is somewhat different from his co-accused in terms of his role, but recruiting the others to assist him to carry out revenge attacks, we say he joined the conspiracy and plainly intended to play his part in it."

Fitzgibbon, of West Oakhill Park, denies conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to endanger life between January 2009 and January 2011.

His co-accused - Downes, of no fixed address, Gary Wilson, of The Promenade, Southport, Riley of Boodecroft, Bradley, of Altfinch Close, Farrell, of Brandearth Hey, all Stockbridge Village, all deny that charge and a further offence of conspiring to damage property with intent to endanger life.

(Proceeding)

CAPTION(S):

ATTACK: The Rocket junction after the shooting TRIAL: Colin Fitzgibbon is accused of joining the conspiracy after a gun attack on his mother's house and his brother's car
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 27, 2011
Words:725
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