'Revenge' shooting trio locked up for almost 40 years after gunshots were fired at a house in Leeds
Three men who were behind a 'revenge' drive-by shooting in which shots were fired at a house in Leeds have been locked up for a total of almost 40 years.
Seven bullets were fired from a self-loading pistol at a house in Beeston as people were inside the property on November 3 last year.
A court heard how one of the bullets went through the kitchen window and embedded into a wall but no one was injured.
A Judge told Junior Coley, Haroon Murtza and Cameron Mason that they were fortune not to be facing a murder charge.
Coley, 38, fired the shots at the house on Longroyd Crescent after being hired to do the "dirty work" by Murtza and Mason.
Leeds Crown Court heard Murtza was the "leading mind" behind the shooting, which may have been arranged as revenge after Mason, his step-son, was the victim a violent attack
James Lake, prosecuting, told the court how the occupant of the house on Longroyd Crescent was at home with his friends at the time of the shooting, which took place shortly before midnight.
It was only by good fortune that none of them were in the kitchen at the time Coley fired the shots from the driver's side window of a Vauxhall Corsa.
One of the bullets went into the house, three hit the outside wall, two struck the window sill and one struck a mattress in the garden.
Mr Lake said: "The Crown say it was a determined and premeditated attack "
The Corsa had been bought on the day of the attack and was then fitted with number plates stolen from a similar vehicle parked outside Marlborough Towers, near to Leeds city centre.
Coley and Mason travelled together in a taxi to buy the vehicle but made a "fatal mistake" when purchasing it which eventually led to them being brought to justice.
Mr Lake told jurors: "You may all have your own experiences from buying or selling motor vehicles.
"Part of that process is the completion of a V5 document by the new keeper. The police recovered the V5 document from the sale of the Corsa.
"Not only had a false name been used and a date of birth very close to Coley's, but they had also used Longroyd Crescent as their current UK address.
"It was, the Crown says, a quite outrageously basic error. Longroyd Crescent was the address Coley was later to fire seven bullets into.
"It is clear, the Crown says, that the vehicle was being purchased as part of the plan to endanger the lives of the occupants of that address."
Mobile phone evidence showed all three defendants had been in touch with each other in the hours leading up to the shooting.
Mr Lake said it is thought that Coley met up with Murtza at around 10.25pm and was given the weapon, a 9mm Makarov self-loading pistol.
An investigation was launched two days later when a housing officer contacted police after seeing the damage to the property in Beeston.
CCTV footage of the shooting was recovered and was played in court.
When the police seized the Corsa, gunshot residue was found in the vehicle which was similar to residue in the spent cartridges found at the scene.
Coley was also caught on camera with the vehicle at Marlborough Towers.
He was arrested but denied involvement in the shooting,
Coley was homeless at the time of the incident.
Police searched a tent in which he was living near to the tower block and a bullet was found.
It was a live 9mm Makarov calibre Bulgarian military cartridge.
The police fired the bullet so that they could obtain the gunshot residue.
The residue they obtained was the same type found in some of the spent cartridge casings from Longroyd Crescent and the same type found in the Corsa.
The court heard Mason had made attempts with another man to source a gun around the time of the shooting.
On March 18 this year, builders working on Spen Lane in Leeds discovered two firearms and contacted the police.
One of the firearms was the weapon used in the shooting at Longroyd Crescent.
Murtza, 36, of Beckhill Approach, Meanwood, and Mason, 20, of King George Avenue, Horsforth were found guilty of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.
Murtza was jailed for 15 years and Mason was locked up for 12 years.
Coley, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to the same charge on the first day of the trial.
He was sentenced to 12 years and seven months.
Sentencing, Judge Penelope Belcher said: "Had there been someone in the line of fire, it is likely you would have been standing there charged with murder.
"You Haroon Murtza, through probation, now admit your part in this.
"You tell them that you organised this to avenge a knife attack or threats to Cameron Mason.
"People who take the law into their own hands end up in a mess, as you now realise."
Ricky Holland, mitigating for Murtza, described the defendant as a hardworking family man.
He said: "He has caused the most enormous shame and humiliation for his family.
"He is going to miss the better years of his children growing up.
"It could be said, with justification, that that is something he should have thought of.
"There is plainly another dimension to Haroon Murtza, but today he falls to be sentenced for a grave offence."
John Batchelor, for Coley, said his client had been "manipulated" into committing the offence.
He said: "He was acting, he would say, under the direction of others.
"At the time of the offence he was gripped by a long-standing drug habit."
Sean Smith, for Mason, asked the Judge to take his client's young age at the time of the offence into account.
Detective Chief Inspector Fiona Gaffney, of West Yorkshire Police Firearms Prevent and Investigations Team, said: “This was a really serious incident where several gunshots were fired at a house in a residential street without any consideration of the serious harm that could have been caused to the occupants of that address or other residents.
“A detailed and comprehensive investigation by specialist detectives built up a clear evidential trail that led to the convictions of these three men for firearms offences.
“The criminal use of firearms on our streets can never be tolerated and will always attract the highest level of investigation by the Programme Precision teams to bring those responsible to justice.
“We hope the conviction and imprisonment of these men will help to reassure the community and serve as a stark reminder of the serious penalties that others can expect if they involve themselves in this type of offending.
“Information from the community is a vital element in our investigations, and we encourage anyone who knows or hears anything about the illegal use of firearms to contact us directly or pass their information anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers.”