FOUR gang members have been jailed after loaded firearms were seized from a “safe house” in Leeds on a night when guns were being openly carried on the streets of the city.
Police believe the men were about carry out a revenge attack when armed officer descended on the property in the Chapeltown area of the city.
West Yorkshire Police took swift action after being contacted by frightened members of the public who reported seeing a man carrying a gun in public.
In a connected incident 40 minutes earlier, people had fled in terror after a man pointed a handgun at a group of men in a car outside a nightclub.
Leeds Crown Court heard Marlon James, Mosiah James, Marcus Kaye and Rayon Hamilton-Craig were arrested when officers went to a house on Cowper Street in the early hours of June 27 this year.
Officers found a semi automatic Luger pistol, loaded with a magazine containing five bullets, inside a manbag in a bedroom washing basket.
The barrel of a sawn off shotgun was also spotted sticking out from underneath the living room sofa. That weapon was also loaded. A further five cartridges were discovered in a kitchen freezer compartment. Drugs were also found in the property
Marlon James’s phone was seized and found to contain a video of him wearing a balaclava while his singing a “gangster rap” song in which he referred to shooting others and using a Luger.
Hamilton-Craig’s phone contained texts which contained messages which referred to “standing strong” and “firing first”. The messages were described in court as being a “call to arms.”
Earlier in the evening a man was caught on CCTV camera pointing a handgun at a car connected to the men as it was parked outside Rhythms Bar in Chapeltown Road.
The court was played footage of the incident which showed the car sped off and pedestrians run away when the weapon was produced.
Jailing the men to total sentence of 31 and a half years, judge Tom Bayliss, QC, said: “All of that leads me to conclude that you were part of a gang. This was a gang culture and this was a safe house being used to store weapons.” The judge added: “These were loaded firearms with no lawful purpose. Guns kill. Guns Maim. Guns intimidate the community. They have an insidious, corrosive impact on society.” All four men pleaded guilty to possession of a prohibited weapon. Marlon James, 22, of Spencer Place, Chapeltown, Mosiah James, 22,of Hamilton Avenue, Chapeltown and Marcus Kaye, 21, of North Carr, Dalton, Huddersfield, were jailed for eight years, one month.
Rayon Hamilton-Craig, 18, of De Lacy Mount, Kirkstall, also pleaded guilty to three offences of possession of a class A drug with intent to supply, linked to a separate incident.
He was sent to a young offenders institution for seven years, three months.
After the hearing, Det Insp Jaz Khan, from Leeds District Quartz, a specialist team tackling gun and drug crime, said: “We strongly believe these men had come together and armed themselves to take retaliation against a rival criminal gang.
“The weapons and ammunition they had with them were capable of inflicting deadly violence and had they not been stopped by the swift intervention of armed police officers there could have been very serious consequences.
“Weapons and ammunition such as these have no place in our communities and can only cause harm in the hands of criminals. We hope people will be reassured to know they have now been taken off the streets.”