Five men jailed after gunman fired "warning" shot during gangland fall out

Others are still awaiting sentencing.
Newcastle Crown Court.Newcastle Crown Court.
Newcastle Crown Court.

Five men are starting prison sentences after this gunman fired a "warning" shot from a semi-automatic pistol at a rival's house during a fall out between two criminal gangs.

The masked shooter is caught on camera as he runs from a car parked in South Shields, towards a terraced house and fires the Russian made weapon at the property, before fleeing back to the vehicle.

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Nobody was hurt in the terrifying incident, which happened in broad daylight in a residential area but five men have now been jailed over the shooting, which was organised in a UK-wide firearms conspiracy.

Three are still awaiting sentence.

Newcastle Crown Court was told Paul Momat and right-hand man Joseph Millward initiated the plot in a bid to "lay down a warning" to a rival group.

They enlisted the help of London-based criminal Colin Crawley, who has served time for attempted murder, and associate James Townsend to be the architects of the daylight shooting, with Caspian Bhinder tasked with being the middle man.

Following weeks of planning by the co-conspirators, two men – shooter Stefan Simpson along with Ashlee McKenzie – travelled 300 miles from London to the North East to carry out the offence.

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They executed their plan on the afternoon of September 16, 2021, at Heaton Gardens, with Simpson discharging a handgun at an address just moments after the victim had stepped outside of his front door.

The sophisticated plot saw Simpson and McKenzie given access to accommodation in Gateshead as well as use of a stolen car, which was duly arranged by Tyran Baglin.

Prosecutor Nick Dry told the court: "The offences happened within the context of a North East gangland fall out between Momat's organised crime group and acompeting group, who counted Joseph Robinson among them. He appears to be a one time associate of Momat, now turned rival.

"That rivalry reached such a level Momat recruited Colin Crawley to assemble a team who were to travel north with a firearm to put Mr Robinson in fear of violence.

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"The plan began late July, early August but increased following an arson at a garage which Momat was associated with.

"On September 14, Bhinder recruited McKenzie and Simpson, who travelled north with a semi automatic pistol."

Mr Dry said the pistol had been picked up in Oxford. He added: "It was a busy residential street in the early afternoon.

"Footage shows McKenzie driving up and down Heaton Gardens before parking up and laying in wait for Joseph Robinson, against a background of incessant calls and messages between the parties.

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"Simpson then, heavily disguised, left the car upon the arrival of Mr Robinson, ran towards him and discharged the firearm in the direction of his address.

"He was then driven away from the scene by McKenzie.

"Mission successfully completed, there were numerous communications thereafter concerning payment which was resolved at a meeting in York on September 18."

Mr Dry said Momat wanted to "maximise fear and distress" to intimidate Mr Robinson and was "calling the shots" in setting out what was wanted when he outsourced the contract to Crawley.

Crawley, Millward, Baglin and Bhinder pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and Momat, Townsend, McKenzie and Simpson were convicted of the offence.

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Crawley, Millward and Baglin also admitted a non-disclosure offence in relation to their phone, which Momat was found guilty of.

Momat, 36, of Owen Drive, West Boldon, was jailed for nine years.

Crawley, 46, of Woodall Court, Croydon, was jailed for six years and fivemonths.

Simpson, 24, of St Matthew’s Road, London, who also faced an unrelated affray charge, was jailed for seven years and three months.

McKenzie, 33, of Wandsworth Road, Lambeth, got six years.

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Baglin, 24, of no fixed abode, was locked up for three years and eight months.

Millward, 29, of Davy Close, Hebburn, Townsend, 46, of Hawksmoor Road, Oxford, and Bhinder, 33, of Babbington Road, Streatham, will be sentenced later.

The court Crawley was jailed in 2003 for attempted murder and possessing a gun but his defence team say he went on to run a legitimate business and has a family.

Momat has previous convictions, including conspiracy to rob and conpsiracy to burgle, which involved bogus police officers obtaining cash from victims.

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Paul Rooney, defending, said Momat plans to move away for a fresh start and added Mr Robinson was not injured or left in fear.

Leon Lynch, for Simpson, said: "He discharged two shots towards the floor of that building. There was no intention to cause injury. He is susceptible to influence from older individuals."

Ignatuis Fessal, defending McKenzie, said he was not a planner or organiser and has vowed to never offend again.

Sean Routlede, for Baglin, a "runner" who sourced the car and booked accommodation, said he played a limited role.