Detective Sergeant Steven Brown said it's a 'minor miracle' that the victim did not die from his injuries
An armed thug has been jailed for 21 years after he tried to kill a man by firing a sawn-off shotgun at his chest – before leaving him to die.
John Dees, 33, pulled the trigger in broad daylight on a busy Washington street in October last year.
The violent offender tailed his victim, of whom he had been in dispute with, in a car before summoning him to the passenger side window.
Dees, of Wensleydale Avenue, Washington, then fired his gun at point-blank range before fleeing the scene and attempting to cover his tracks.
The man suffered life-changing injuries but amazingly survived the blast.
After admitting attempted murder, possessing a shotgun with intent to endanger life and criminal damage at Newcastle Crown Court earlier this year, today (Friday) Dees was jailed for 21 years.
Detective Sergeant Steven Brown, the officer in charge of the case, welcomed the significant sentence handed down by the judge and reiterated it was a ‘minor miracle’ that the victim was not killed in the incident.
“This was a cold and pre-meditated shooting, committed in the heart of our community in broad daylight where families were nearby,” Det Sgt Brown said.
“It is nothing short of miraculous that the victim survived from his injuries – we could so easily have been dealing with a murder investigation.
“John Dees proved that he is a danger to society. There can be absolutely no question that the streets of Washington are safer with him now behind bars.
“I would like to thank the victim in this case who has shown amazing bravery throughout. No sentence handed down today will change the events that unfolded – and he will no doubt live with the horror of what happened that day for the rest of his life.
“However, I sincerely hope this significant sentence can allow him some kind of closure, knowing that the man responsible for his catastrophic injuries faces a long time in prison.
“Today’s sentencing reaffirms our commitment to tackling serious and organised crime, and Dees’ conviction is the result of a fantastic investigation carried out by an experienced team of detectives. They worked meticulously and tirelessly to ensure he was brought to justice for his crimes.
“Wearside is a popular and safe region for residents and visitors, and thankfully incidents involving a firearm are very rare in this area. However, when they do occur, this case proves Northumbria Police will use every resource available to us in order to secure a swift conviction.”
The court was told the victim and two friends were driving in a blue Transit van on October 10 last year when they heard a car horn sounding behind them.
After looking around, they saw an incensed Dees who was acting aggressively and vowed he was going to “smash” his victim.
The trio pulled away but Dees reappeared a short time later in the same vehicle, following them until they pulled over outside the One Stop Shop on Blue House Lane.
As Dees revved his engine loudly, the victim got out of his car and was beckoned to the passenger-side door.
Dees then pointed a sawn-off shotgun at his victim and pulled the trigger, causing severe injuries including a large gunshot wound to his chest, shattered ribs and damage to his liver.
As his victim fell to the ground and fought for his life, Dees then drove off and attempted to cover his tracks by removing his car’s metallic black wrap – changing its appearance to silver – and peeled off vinyl stickers which he discarded in a wheelie bin.
The offender had also shaven his head in an attempt to change his appearance when officers located him.
He was swiftly arrested and police found the shotgun and unspent cartridges hidden in a rucksack left in a vacant address next door to a property belonging to a friend.
Dees refused to cooperate upon arrest, but on January 28 he pleaded guilty to attempted murder, possessing a shotgun with intent to endanger life and criminal damage in relation to his police cell when he appeared at Newcastle Crown Court.
He now begins a long spell behind bars.