Man who played a ‘pivotal’ role in a South Tyneside shooting has been jailed for more than five years

A criminal who played a "pivotal" role in the firing of a gun at a rival's house following a fall-out between two gangs has been jailed.
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The masked shooter ran towards the terraced home in South Shields and discharged a Russian made weapon at the property, before fleeing in a vehicle in September 2021.

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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.

Caspian Bhinder was jailed for more than five years.Caspian Bhinder was jailed for more than five years.
Caspian Bhinder was jailed for more than five years.

They enlisted the help of Colin Crawley, who was based in London, 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, two men – shooter Stefan Simpson along with Ashlee McKenzie – travelled 300 miles from London to the North East to carry out the offence.

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

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Bhinder, 33, of Babbington Road, Streatham, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and appeared back at the same court on Tuesday, April 4, via video-link for sentencing.

The court heard that he played a "pivotal" role in the operation and that he was in frequent contact with Crawley before the shooting.

Judge Timothy Gittins acknowledged Bhinder was in contact with Crawley on a "day-to-day" basis and was trusted by him as a right-hand man.

The judge said: "The risk of harm was extremely high given more than one bullet was fired and it was live ammunition aimed in the general direction Mr Rutherford was fleeing.

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"I concede your role was pivotal although below that of the leaders here of Crawley and Momat.

"It's clear you were trusted as a right-hand man by Mr Crawley. He was heard to meet you for long periods of time in the run-up to the incident.

"I reject the suggestion that your role was peripheral."

The judge sentenced him to five years and two months behind bars.

Mark Fraser, mitigating, told the court Bhinder had experienced a tough upbringing which led him into a life of crime.

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Mr Fraser said: "The defendant's mother, who is physically unwell at present, also suffers in relation to mental health.

"He grew up with the childhood having to deal with these issues. He found himself involved in activities that led to the attention of the police.

"The positive side of Mr Bhinder can be said. He had been working in a full-time position as a carer for those in sheltered accommodation.

"He was in essence his mother's primary carer."

The judge also read character references and a letter written by Bhinder himself which expressed his remorse.

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After passing sentence, Bhinder said to the judge: "Thank you sir. Have a nice day."

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