A man accused of killing a South Tyneside businessman has appeared back in court – charged with possessing a firearm in the days leading up to the killing.
Father-of-two Tipu Sultan was gunned down outside his family-run takeaway, Herbs & Spice, in Lake Avenue, South Shields, on April 7.
I would invite you to send this matter to Newcastle Crown Court.Jeanette Smith
The tragedy sent shockwaves through the community and sparked a major police hunt for his killers.
Michael McDougall, 47, of Hylton Avenue and Michael Mullen, 24, of Hawthorne Avenue, both South Shields, were jointly charged with the 32-year-old’s murder at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on June 25.
During a hearing at Newcastle Crown Court last week, both men – who appeared via video link to separate prisons – pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The pair also pleaded not guilty to a joint charge of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.
Mullen faces a further charge, of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, which he denies.
Both remain remanded in custody ahead of a trial date set for February 23.
But McDougall was brought to the dock at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday to be charged with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life between April 1 and August 6 of this year.
He spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth during a brief hearing and was not asked to enter a plea.
Jeanette Smith, prosecuting, told magistrates: “I would invite you to send this matter to Newcastle Crown Court.”
Kevin Smallcombe, defending, said: “You will be aware of the background of an ongoing murder case.
“This charge should be sent to the crown court to marry up with other matters.”
Magistrates sent the case to Newcastle Crown Court, for a hearing on November 24.
Mr Sultan was shot at close range at the rear of the Herbs & Spice takeaway just before 10pm on Tuesday, April 7.
Two men were seen speeding away from the area on a motorbike after the shooting.
Police seized more than 2,000 hours of CCTV footage from the area where Mr Sultan was killed and visited more than 1,000 homes as part of a wide-ranging investigation. Northumbria Police Detective Chief Inspector John Bent made an appeal on the BBC’s Crimewatch show in May as part of the force’s murder probe.
Two women arrested at the same time as Mullen and McDougall were released by police in June, one with no further action being taken, while a 35-year-old man arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder in the days after the incident was released without further action.
Hundreds gathered at Sunderland’s Bangladeshi Community Centre, in Tatham Street, Hendon, on April 22 for the funeral of Tipu, who lived in the city’s Millfield area.