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Jail for shotgun gang who brought terror to streets.

Byline: SEAN SEDDON Reporter sean.seddon@reachplc.com

FIVE thugs who brought gun terror to the streets of Newcastle were put behind bars for a total of almost a century for their part in a shotgun conspiracy.

A feud between warring factions from Tyneside's underworld spilled out into the open in 2017, with houses shot at and innocent lives put at risk. Michael Conroy, Darren Appleby, Jamie Moran, Kenneth Moran, Bailey Wilson have all been locked up for their part in the vicious dispute.

A sixth man, Sean Ree, will be sentenced next week.

The six were found guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life in March after a trial at Newcastle Crown Court shone a light on gun crime in the North East.

Judge Batiste told the defendants: "Society needs protecting from people willing to use firearms. I will today provide that protection for the citizens of Newcastle."

The sentences prompted disruption in the public gallery, as family members erupted in protest.

Police officers and security personnel were needed to drag screaming onlookers out of the chamber while at least one defendant was heard to make a threat from the dock.

Prosecutors revealed how what started as a petty spat "quickly escalated" into a potentially deadly war. Two masked men ransacked a cafe on the West Road owned by Paul Scott on October 13, the first in several attacks on the business.

Prosecutor Matthew Donkin told Leeds Crown Court it happened in front of members of the public "including school children".

On another occasion, a car deliberately rammed the shutters of Cafe West and the home of the owner was sprayed with graffiti.

Scott responded by moving his wife and children to a house on Drysdale Court in Brunswick, the scene of the first shooting on January 4, 2018.

Prosecutors say the target was Scott - but the hapless triggerman shot at the wrong house, shattering a window just feet from an innocent woman who was doing her knitting.

Four days later, somebody fired at the window of a home in Deepdale Crescent, Cowgate. Nobody has been convicted of that offence.

When police attended the Cowgate shooting, they found the address which had been fired at belonged to Michael Conroy Snr, his wife and children and Appleby.

The court heard how there was evidence of a petrol-bomb attack by unknown assailants at the same address but no information was offered to the police as the "matter was being taken into their own hands".

The same night, five bullets were fired at a home in Oakfield Gardens, Benwell.

Detectives established a shotgun was used to fire at the house in Brunswick and at least two weapons were used in Benwell - a .22 rifle and a .410 shotgun.

Detectives identified who had been involved in the violent conspiracy using CCTV, DNA and phone data and narrowed in on a "safe house" on Wingrove Avenue in Fenham.

A dramatic armed raid was carried out and Jamie Moran and Appleby were detained and officers uncovered a pump action rifle, ammunition, balaclavas, PS5,000 in cash and cannabis stuffed under the floorboards.

In mitigation, Mr Hunt, who was representing Conroy, said there had been "no attempt to obtain" the kind of "military-grade weapons" used in gang feuds in other cities.

He held up an empty cartridge similar to the ones used in the Newcastle shootings to demonstrate they are easily obtainable.

Appearing on behalf of Appleby, Mr Walker pointed out his client has no history of violence and is a "relatively lightly convicted man".

Mr Wilkinson and Mr Bloomfield, speaking for Jamie and Kenneth Moran respectively, also pointed to their clients' light conviction histories.

Judge Baptiste accused Bailey Wilson of "showing no empathy" and his counsel Mr Mitchell said "there's nothing a lengthy period of custody to drill empathy into a young man".

Sean Ree pleaded guilty to a lesser offence at an earlier hearing but the other five men maintain their innocence.

Sentencing Conroy, Judge Batiste said: "You were at the heart of the conspiracy. You are the oldest and most heavily convicted of the gang. You tried to distance yourself from the shootings but you were a controlling mind."

All six men were found guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life in relation to the Brunswick shooting. Appleby, Conroy and Jamie Moran were also found guilty of the same charge in relation to the Benwell shooting.

Michael Conroy, 36, of Heathfield Crescent, Cowgate, Newcastle, was jailed for 22 years. He had also been found guilty of possessing ammunition, namely a .22 bullet, without a certificate.

Darren Appleby, 23, of Deepdale Crescent, Cowgate, was jailed for 24 years. Jamie Moran, 29, of Whickham View, Newcastle, was jailed for 21 years.

Kenneth Moran, 28, of Caroline Cottages, Slatyford, Newcastle, was jailed for 19 years.

Bailey Wilson, 21, of Cartmell Green, Slatyford, was jailed for 22 years.

Previously, Appleby and Jamie Moran were found found guilty of possessing a firearm without a certificate - a pumpaction rifle - and guilty of possessing ammunition without a certificate, namely .22 bullets during the March trial.

The judge did not sentence Sean Ree, 26, of Coach Road, Wallsend, as his counsel was not able to attend but he has been told to expect a prison sentence too. Ree was cleared of a charge of criminal damage at a cafe on the West Road in October 2017.

Paul Scott, his brother Steven, and Steven Melvin all admitted conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and were jailed earlier this year.

CAPTION(S):

A house in Oakfield Gardens in Benwell, Newcastle, which had gunshots fired at it

Darren Appleby

Michael Conroy

Jamie Moran

Kenneth Moran

Bailey Wilson
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 29, 2019
Words:959
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