NEWPORT SHOOTING TRIAL: Murder plot four jailed for 48 years
Updated 9:30am Tuesday 1st July 2014 in News
SCENE: The crashed Ford Ka outside the Crosshands pub on the corner of Somerton Road and Chepstow Road in Newport
FOUR men found guilty of conspiracy to murder two people in a revenge street shooting were today jailed for a total of 48 years.
The four, who were all jailed for 12 years each, were arrested after Michael Wall and John Jnr Phillips were shot at and rammed by a jeep while travelling in a Ford Ka in Chepstow Road, Newport, a court heard.
The Ford crashed into the Cross Hands pub and Mr Phillips needed a shotgun pellet surgically removed from the back of his head, Newport Crown Court heard.
The revenge attack took place after Mr Phillips and Mr Wall robbed one of the defendants, Brogan Hooper, at gunpoint of drugs and money at his home two days previously, the court was told.
The court heard the defendants made "careful attempts" to dispose of evidence and cover their tracks after the attack on September 3 last year.
The shotgun and jeep were never found.
Police intelligence also revealed Mr Wall and Mr Phillips had links with drugs and drug crime but they did not cooperate with the police investigation, the court was told.
Ryan Battersby, 25, of no fixed abode, Lewis Bridge, 23, of Nash Drive, Newport, Brogan Hooper, 21, of Feering Street, Newport, and Gary Rabjohns, 25, of no fixed address, had denied being involved in the murder plot.
The four were found guilty of conspiracy to murder on June 5 by majority verdicts in respect of Mr Wall and Mr Phillips, but cleared of the same charge in respect of the Ka driver, Shanice Francis, who was unharmed.
Meanwhile, Rabjohns was found guilty by unanimous verdict of attempting to pervert the course of justice by writing a letter urging his co-defendants Bridge and Hooper not to tell the truth and threatening the safety of their families if they did.
Judge Laura Cox DBE jailed each defendant for 12 years for each count of conspiracy to murder, to be served concurrently.
She also gave Rabjohns six months for perverting the course of justice, to be served concurrently.
She told the court: "It was purely fortuitous that none of the occupants of the Ka was killed or seriously injured.
"It is clear on the evidence that what happened that night was a revenge attack - the Newport boys on the Cardiff boys as it has been described - and that it was carefully planned.
"Since each of you had an intention to kill, the level of culpability of each of you is very high."
Both Rabjohns and Battersby had denied being in the 4x4 Grand Jeep Cherokee on the night of the incident, the court heard.
Rabjohns' barrister, Paul Lewis, today said there was an element of "provocation" to the incident as he had received texts from Mr Phillips indicating he was coming to Newport "looking for trouble".
Harry Baker, for Battersby, said in mitigation his client had a partner and two disabled children together.
Bridge had admitted being in the car, but claimed he was unaware there was a gun in it, the court was told.
His barrister, Sarah Waters, indicated today that he was as involved as the other defendants in the plot and stressed he had got into the vehicle at a late stage.
Ms Waters added that he had spent a lot of time looking after his grandmother and may have the opportunity to volunteer at a friend's gym upon his release from prison.
Hooper had admitted being in the car, but declined to name those who were with him, a jury heard.
He also denied knowing there was a gun in the car or that the plan was to ram the Ka, the court was told.
His barrister, Andrew Morse, stressed his client was younger than his co-defendants having been 20 at the time of the shooting.
Judge Cox also ordered each defendant to pay a £120 victim surcharge during their time in prison.
Musician pleads guilty to intimidating witness
A MUSICIAN who intimidated a witness in the trial was handed a four-month custodial sentence yesterday.
Jermain Smith, 22, contacted Ryan Milton via Facebook then called him on his mobile to discuss his statement to police, Newport Crown Court heard. Smith, of Caerleon Road, Newport, had previously been given a suspended custodial sentence for cannabis possession with intent to supply, the court heard.
But Judge Cox ruled it was not “directly relevant” to the shooting trial and decided to ignore it.
Judge Cox gave him a four-month custodial sentence but because of the time he had spent on remand he was immediately freed.
He had been in custody since January and pleaded guilty to one count of witness intimidation.
His barrister, Matthew Cobbe, said his music career had been "put on hold" because of the court proceedings but stressed he had used in time on remand to re-engage with his Christian faith.
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