Members of a gang linked to organised crime in Newcastle have been convicted for their involvement in two shootings across the city.
The six men were today (Tuesday) found guilty of their involvement in the violence after a 12-month investigation by Northumbria Police into an ongoing feud between two rival gangs.
It was launched in January 2018 after shots were fired at three houses in Benwell, Cowgate and Brunswick. A petrol bomb was also thrown towards the house in Cowgate.
A court was told how the shootings had followed a spate of violent exchanges between two rival gangs that included a burglary and numerous reports of vandalism.
Police trawled CCTV, spoke to hundreds of residents, deployed high visibility patrols and made dozens of arrests as part of their investigation.
In November last year, one side of the factions were convicted and jailed after being arrested in a police sting led by detectives at Northumbria Police.
And now their rival gang have been convicted in relation to two shootings.
Darren Appleby, Jamie Moran, Kenny Moran, Michael Conroy, Bailey Wilson and Sean Ree have been remanded into custody and are now facing jail when they are sentenced.
Following the conviction, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Woods said it was fantastic that a "dangerous and violent criminal gang" had been taken off the streets.
He said: "These are two rival organised crime gangs who have no respect for the law or for the members of the public who were caught up in their reckless behaviour.
“Our streets are a safer place today because a team of detectives, officers and police staff worked day and night to gather the evidence needed to secure these convictions.
"Under the banner of Operation Sentinel that hard work continues and we will not let organised crime groups put lives at risk.
"This should send a strong message to all organised crime gangs across our region - if you take the law into your own hands then we will take your freedom."
Police have not been able to establish what sparked the feud that led to the violence between the two rival gangs in 2017 and the beginning of 2018.
However, following the spate of incidents, an investigation was launched by Northumbria Police and detectives used intelligence from the local community to identify a huge list of suspects.
They trawled CCTV, spoke to hundreds of witnesses and carried out forensic enquiries on bullet casings left at the scenes of the violence.
That resulted in a police raid on an address on Wingrove Avenue in Fenham on February 14, 2018, in which police found a sawn-off rifle and ammunition hidden under the floorboards.
During the raid, Appleby and Jamie Moran were arrested attempting to flee the address.
Michael Conroy’s DNA was later found on bags containing ammunition found at that address. Detectives were able to prove the recovered firearm was used in the shooting in Benwell.
Mobile phone information, ANPR data and witness testimony later put Kenneth Moran, Bailey Wilson and Sean Ree in Brunswick in the minutes before that shooting took place.
All six men were arrested and charged with firearms offences linked to the violence and now they have been convicted after a trial at Newcastle Crown Court.
They are Darren Appleby, 23, of no fixed address, Jamie Moran, 28, of Whickham View, Newcastle, Kenny Moran, 27, of Caroline Cottages, Slatyford, Michael Conroy, 36, of Heathfield Crescent, Cowgate and Bailey Wilson, 21, of no fixed abode.
Sean Ree, 25, had pleaded guilty to the alternative of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence but was found guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life.
Ree, of Henniker Point, Stratford, London, was acquitted of a charge of criminal damage after damage to a café on the West Road.
Rival gang members were jailed in November 2018 after detectives linked them to a sawn-off shotgun found hidden in shrubbery in Denton Burn.
This weapon could not be forensically linked to the violence but it did match the specification of a weapon known to be used in an attack on an address in Cowgate.
The men weren’t convicted in relation to the shooting but they were jailed for a total of 23 years and two months at Newcastle Crown Court after admitting a string of firearms offences last year.
Timeline of violence:
• Officers believe the feud began in July 2017 with a burglary on Whitbeck Road in Denton – the home of Paul Scott, 31, of Whitbeck Road, Newcastle, who was jailed as part of the case in December.
• In the months that followed a cafe on the West Road owned by Scott was damaged four times, including on one occasion where masked men entered and smashed up the property.
• The violence escalated and on January 4, 2018, Kenny Moran, Bailey Wilson and Sean Ree attended an address on Drysdale Court in Brunswick. Shots were fired at the address – officers believe the attack was meant for a property where Paul Scott was staying – but it was in fact the neighbour’s property. Nobody was injured.
• Three days later an address on Deepdale Crescent in Cowgate that was linked to the family of Michael Conroy was targeted with a petrol bomb. Again nobody was injured, but the very next day the address was targeted in a second shooting while Darren Appleby, 23, was inside.
• A jury at Newcastle Crown Court were told how Appleby, Conroy and Jamie Moran then conspired to fire shots at a property on Oakfield Gardens in Benwell the very same evening. Two firearms were discharged at the address in a suspected revenge attack before the offenders fled the scene. A motorbike similar to one belonging to Appleby was captured on CCTV in the area at the time of the shooting.