Criminals from Manchester and Liverpool plotted to have an enemy “carved up” inside prison. Details of the conspiracy emerged at a court case earlier this week.
Lewis Fitzpatrick was jailed on Monday for 26 years after Liverpool Crown Court heard that he was involved in the shooting of a 56-year-old man on his own doorstep. Fitzpatrick, 25, drove gunman Aaron Bretherton to carry out a shooting on Poplars Avenue in Warrington, the Liverpool Echo reports.
Bretherton, posing as a pizza delivery man, fired three rounds at innocent David Barnes, causing his life changing injuries. Anthony Morris, aged 24, drove the van back to Liverpool.
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The court heard how Fitzpatrick, Bretherton and Morris followed the orders of a Manchester based gang boss. Liverpool drug dealers Alan and John Tobin also helped organize the violence.
But the prosecution also revealed a separate plot to attack a man who was serving out a prison sentence. Alan Tobin asked a Manchester gang boss to organize an attack on a man named Alvin who was inside the prison system.
Phil Barnes, prosecuting, said the Manchester man asked Alan Tobin which jail Alvin was in. Alan replied: “He’s put me and our kid in this f****** hole were in and caused us so much shit. I will owe you the world bro carve the c*** up.”
The Manchester man replied by promising to have Alvin attacked. He said he would ‘take his eyes from him’ and ‘kill his mum from him.’ The Manchester man cannot be named for legal reasons.
Liam Byrne Junior was the intended target of a gang who traveled from Liverpool to Poplars Avenue in Orford, on the evening of April 24, 2020. But convicted heroin dealer Byrne Jr – believed to be an associate of notorious gun and drug crooks Anthony and Leon Cullen – was not at the property.
His stepdad, David Barnes, 56, opened the door instead. He was suspicious because he had n’t ordered a takeaway and his stepson from him had been warned by police of a threat to his life from him. As he tried to close the door, Everton soldier Bretherton fired up to four shots. The court heard one gunshot hit the floor, while another bullet traveled through the door and hit Mr Barnes in the lower right leg – shattering his tibia and fibula.
The Tobins and their associates were in dispute with a rival drug gang led by Leon Cullen. Fitzpatrick, Bretherton and Morris targeted the home of Leon’s dad after the Poplars Avenue shooting. They left after being told Mr Cullen didn’t live there. The underworld plot was exposed after police penetrated the EncroChat phone network which the criminals used to communicate with each other.
Fitzpatrick, of Eldersfield Road, Norris Green was found guilty of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm following a three-week trial at Liverpool Crown Court. He was also found guilty of conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to endanger life, conspiracy to supply a controlled drug of cannabis, conspiracy to supply a class B drug (cannabis) and possession of a prohibited firearm.
Judge Stuart Driver, QC, told Fitzpatrick: “There was significant planning and you played a leading role in a group activity. The incident involved a very high level of violence, endangering life – planned and done for money. You knew your group had shot an innocent man, but you showed no remorse.”
Judge Driver found Fitzpatrick was “dangerous”, as defined in law, and jailed him for 26 years, with an extended five years on license. This means he must spend at least two thirds of the sentence – just over 17 years – behind bars, before he can apply for parole.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Murray, from the Cheshire Police’s serious and organized crime unit, said: “Fitzpatrick’s role in the conspiracy was to arrange the shooting. He acted as the middle man between those who were directly involved in committing the attack on the night and the person who is believed to have orchestrated it. We suspect Fitzpatrick was in connect with the orchestrator throughout the journey to Poplars Avenue.
“The shooting shocked the local community and left a man to undergo several operations meaning he will never be able to walk the same again. Fitzpatrick is heavily associated with and involved in serious and organized crime from organizing the shooting to the supply of firearms and ammunitions as well as class B drugs for illegal profit.”
Bretherton, of Netherfield Road South, Everton, was jailed for 22 years, with an extended five years on licence, in September. Morris, Fifth Avenue in Fazakerley, was jailed for 14 years.
Alan Tobin, 52, formerly of Regency Park, Widnes, was jailed for eight years for his role in the plots, consecutive to the 20-year prison sentence he is serving for his drug dealing. John Tobin, 41, formerly of Manor Road in Prescot, was handed two and a half years in prison, consecutive to his existing 19 years and eight months term for drug offences.