All eight men involved in a South Shields gun plot have been jailed for a total of more than 51 years
All eight men involved in a shooting in South Shields have been jailed as the final two are sentenced.
Paul Momat, 36, and his right-hand man, Joseph Millward, 29, initiated the plot in an effort to lay down a warning to a rival.
The shooting was carried out shortly after 3pm on September 16, 2021, at Heaton Gardens, moments after the victim had stepped outside his front door.
The pair enlisted the help of London-based criminal Colin Crawley, 46, and his associate, James Townsend, 45, to be the architects of the daylight shooting, with Caspian Bhinder, 34, acting as the middle man.
After weeks of planning, shooter Stefan Simpson, 24, and Ashlee McKenzie, 33, travelled 300 miles from London to South Tyneside to carry out the offence.
Simpson and McKenzie were given access to accommodation on Rayleigh Grove in Gateshead, as well as use of a stolen car which was arranged by Tyran Baglin, 24.
Following the incident, officers pored through hundreds of hours of CCTV footage which showed the suspects’ movements, as well as thousands of calls and encrypted messages sent between the defendants.
When police searched the address in Gateshead, they found a set of car keys that had been concealed behind the television.
The keys opened a stolen VW car that had been discarded on a nearby street and inside the vehicle’s glove box, officrs found the handgun that had been used in the offence.
Northumbria Police supported by the Metropolitan Police carried out a series of dawn raids across South Tyneside and London with a number of suspects arrested.
In 2022, four of the men, Millward, Crawley, Bhinder and Baglin, all admitted to being part of the plot when they appeared at Newcastle Crown Court.
The remaining four, Momat, Townsend, Simpson and McKenzie, all denied their involvement but were found guilty following an 11-week trial in January this year.
In March, Momat, Crawley, Simpson, McKenzie and Baglin were all jailed for more than a combined total of 32 years at Newcastle Crown Court.
The following month, Caspian Bhinder was jailed for more than five years for his “pivotal” role in the plot.
On Friday, May 12, Millward and Townsend became the final two to be jailed at Newcastle Crown Court.
Millward, of Davy Close in Hebburn, was jailed for five years and 11 months after he admitted to conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and failing to disclose the key to protected information.
He was also handed a Serious Crime Prevention Orders (SCPOs) to deter further offending.
Townsend, of Hawksmoor Road in Oxford, was jailed for eight years after he was found guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
Detective Superintendent Jane Fairlamb, of Northumbria Police, led the investigation and she has praised the combined work of various police forces and other partners to bring all eight men to justice.
She said: “This was an appalling shooting that was the result of weeks of careful planning by the co-conspirators, with each defendant trusted to play their part in its execution.
“While nobody was ultimately hurt, this behaviour is totally unacceptable and we hope these sentences send a strong message. We will not tolerate serious violence on our streets.
“I am pleased that all eight co-conspirators have been put behind bars. This outcome was possible thanks to some outstanding teamwork between Northumbria Police, Metropolitan Police, Thames Valley Police, North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU) and our criminal justice partners.
“While incidents involving firearms are rare in Northumbria, when they do occur, we are prepared to use all tactics at our disposal to deliver effective justice against those involved.”
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