A gunman jailed for life for the murder of a popular South Tyneside takeaway boss is appealing his conviction.
Michael McDougall was convicted of the murder of Tipu Sultan by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court last month.
The 32-year-old was shot dead at his business, the Herbs & Spice Kitchen takeaway, in South Shields, last April.
McDougall, 47, of Hylton Avenue, South Shields, was found guilty of murder and two charges of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.
He was jailed for life and told he must serve at least 34 years behind bars.
Michael Mullen, 24, of Hawthorne Avenue, South Shields, who had taken McDougall to and from the murder scene on the back of a motorbike, was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter. He was jailed for 12 years.
Now McDougall has submitted an appeal against his conviction.
Solicitor Kevin Smallcombe told the Gazette an appeal had been submitted last week and a decision was expected shortly.
He said: “I am able to confirm an appeal has been lodged to the Court of Appeal through Newcastle.
“The procedure involves seeking permission for a single judge to proceed to a full hearing.
“This follows advice from senior counsel and relates to concerns regarding aspects of the conviction.”
McDougall joked from the dock as his life term was passed, asking if his sentence could be suspended for 12 months.
He had been caught on a covert recording device, confessing to the killing during a prison visit with pals.
It was claimed he told getaway driver Mullen that the shooting happened during a “robbery gone wrong”.
But during the three-week trial, no real reason was revealed as to why anyone would target Mr Sultan. The motive behind the murder remains a mystery.
Prosecutor Richard Wright QC told the court robbery appeared to be an unlikely motive behind the murder and it may have been a case of an unknown grudge or even mistaken identity.
Mr Wright said while Mr Sultan had had money worries and enjoyed gambling in the past, there was nothing in his background to suggest he would become a target.
He told the jury: “There does not appear to have been any clear motive for any person to want to harm Tipu Sultan, let alone kill him.
“Whether they bore him a grudge, whether they acted on instructions of others, whether they killed the wrong man or something altogether else lay behind the shooting matters little, perhaps.
Sentencing McDougall, Mrs Justice Thirlwall said: “In early April last year you got hold of a sawn-off shotgun, you were going to use it to kill a man.
“What reason you had for that, I don’t know, I doubt you will ever say. You planned the killing and recruited Mullen as your getaway driver.
“The killing took place at 10pm. Very young teenagers were out playing, a lot on their bikes, playing team tig. Some were scarcely feet away.
“What they witnessed will stay with them for the rest of their lives. He had no prospect of withstanding that lethal attack.
“He died at the scene. His father, who was standing close to his son when he was shot, witnessed his killing. No words can adequately describe the terror and horror he experienced.”
The judge said McDougall would be an old man before he was eligible for release and added: “whether you are ever released is a matter for the parole board”.
Mr Sultan’s father Amin Miah told jurors he, his son and their chef had been cleaning the kitchen when someone wearing a helmet that revealed only his eyes kicked in the back door.
Speaking through an interpreter, Mr Miah said: “At first he didn’t say anything, then after a few second he said ‘you, you, you’.
“Then he targeted his gun towards Tipu and bang, the shot. He said ‘hey you’ and just fired. Next he targeted towards me, to shoot at me.”