Eight men are facing long jail sentences after they were convicted over two gangland shootings at Manchester Crown Court on Thursday following a startling seven-week trial which lifted the lid on Salford’s gangland.
Seven of the men went on trial over the shooting of seven-year-old Christian Hickey and his mum on their own doorstep in Salford. An eighth defendant denied an earlier shooting, targeting a man called Jamie Rothwell.
John Kent, Carne Thomasson, Aldaire Warmington, John Thomasson, Christopher Hall, Lincoln Warmington, Dominic Walton and James Coward denied a string of charges relating to the shooting.
John Thomasson, 50, of Wakefield Crescent, Stockport, was cleared of conspiracy to murder; conspiracy to cause GBH with intent; and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
The Manchester Evening News has covered the whole trial since it started on January 30. Here’s what happened, day by day.
Before the trial starts, the prosecution ask the judge to impose reporting restrictions which would prevent the press from identifying Christian Hickey, a boy of seven who had been shot on his own doorstep, and his mother.
The Manchester Evening News and the Press Association argue their names, and pixilated pictures of Christian in his hospital bed, had already been widely reported and that such an order would make it impossible to report on the case meaninfully.
The judge, Mr Justice Popplewell, agrees to vary the order so that their names, and the image of Christian in hospital, can be published although other restrictions apply preventing details of any workplace or current address being published.
The jurors are told that a ninth defendant, Jacob Harrison, has admitted a charge of GBH with intent in connection with a shooting at a car wash. He is no longer in the dock.
Prosecutor Paul Greaney QC opens the the case for the Crown, telling a jury panel of nine women and three men how a boy of seven and his mother were shot on their own doorstep.
Christian Hickey and his mother Jayne were blasted in the legs by a gunman with a Heckler and Kock P7 handgun moments after she had answered a knock on the window of their home in Eccles, jurors were told.
The court heard the same weapon had been used to gun down career criminal Jamie Rothwell six months earlier.
Mr Greaney said: “Both mother and son had been shot in the legs, causing serious injuries and both required extensive hospital treatment, but survived.
“The prosecution case is that what happened that night was a plan to kill – in all probability Chris Hickey was the target – but something went wrong.”
Mr Hickey is a friend of a Michael Carroll, who the jury heard was the leader of a Salford gang which had been involved in a war with a rival outfit known as The A Team led by a man named Stephen Britton.
The shooting at the Hickeys’ home came as violence between the two factions spiralled.
Chris Hickey was at home with his wife and son when there was a knock on their window just before 9.25pm.
The QC said: “Jayne Hickey went to the door and opened it. Her son was behind her. A man was there, down the drive. He shouted, ‘is your husband in?’
“Jayne Hickey replied, ‘one sec’, at which she heard the man say something like ‘nah nah’.
“A second man then appeared. He was armed with a gun. Indeed, he was armed with the same Heckler & Koch self-loading pistol that had been used to shoot Jamie Rothwell. The second man started shooting. Jayne Hickey slammed the door.
“Looking around, she saw that Christian had been shot. Then she realised that she too had been injured.”
The prosecutor tells the jurors the shooting of the Hickeys was part of a botched gangland execution to avenge the murder of Paul Massey three months before.
Mr Massey, said to be a mentor for the alleged leader of the A Team Stephen Britton, was shot dead with a sub-machine gun on the doorstep of his home in July 2015.
The QC told the jury two men had gone to the house and the role of one of them, said to be alleged A Team member Carne Thomasson, was to ‘flush out’ their target by asking Jayne Hickey for her husband, according to the Crown.
The second man was the gunman who fired at the mother and her son Christian, who was standing behind her, with a Heckler and Koch P7 semi-automatic pistol, it was said.
The boy’s father and Jayne Hickey’s husband, Chris Hickey, who was inside the home, was a ‘natural target for the Britton gang, not his wife or child’, said the QC.
The court heard the reason he was a target was that the alleged leader of the rival gang, known as the Anti A Team, Michael Carroll, was a friend of Mr Hickey. Carroll was said to be the best man at Chris Hickey’s wedding.
Mr Greaney added: “Paul Massey had been the mentor to Stephen Britton and so this was very much an attack on the A-Team. Paul Massey was killed and so, as we have argued, this marked an escalation in the violence.
“The prosecution case is that the murder of Paul Massey raised the stakes. Whereas previously the violence used had been non-fatal, although sometimes fortuitously, now it had become exceptionally serious.
“The prosecution suggest that it was this background that led members of the A-Team to the door of Chris Hickey’s home on the night of 12th October 2015, hoping for retribution and intending to kill someone they associated strongly with Michael Carroll on his own doorstep just as Paul Massey had been killed on his.”
Jurors were shown CCTV of the moment a ‘career criminal’ was gunned down at a car wash amid a spiralling gang war.
The footage shows Jamie Rothwell clutching his stomach after a masked gunman blasted him with a Heckler and Koch P7 handgun before scampering away.
The same weapon was used to shoot the Hickeys.
The jurors heard more details about the shooting of Mr Rothwell, said to be a member of a rival gang.
He was shot moments after being dropped off at Express car wash on Bolton Road in Ashton-in-Makerfield at 5.15pm on March 30, 2015.
A white Seat Ibiza pulled up outside the car wash and a masked man got out of the passenger seat and shot Mr Rothwell over the roof of car.
CCTV played to the jury showed him clutching his stomach and then scampering into a waiting room at the car wash.
Moments later he is seen bare-chested, with something wrapped around an arm, and getting into a Landrover Discovery which took him to hospital. He survived.
Motorists who were in Bolton Road have told the jurors of their shock at witnessing the shooting.
Penny Rowbotham was with her children when she saw a car come to a halt in front of her before a man got out, stood on the sill of the door and then fire shots over the roof of the vehicle towards the car wash.
In a video interview played to the jury, she said she saw the gunman was wearing a balaclava and she also saw one black trainer.
Asked by the interviewing officer what she felt at the time, the witness said: “Am I alright to swear? My initial thoughts were ‘f***ing hell he’s going to f***ing shoot me!’ I screamed at the kids ‘get down, get down’.
Mr Rothwell had surgery and a fragment of a bullet was removed from his arm but he refused to co-operate with police, the jurors were told.
The jurors were told about the previous convictions of Jamie Rothwell, an alleged member of Michael Carroll’s gang. Mr Rothwell was twice convicted of robbery with an imitation firearm and also once of attempted robbery with an imitation firearm.
He was also said to have been convicted of taking a vehicle without consent in 2005, a drugs offence in 2007 as well as possession of drugs and possession of an offensive weapon in 2009. In 2010 Mr Rothwell was convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine and he was also convicted of handling and money laundering in 2015.
A ballistics expert told the jury that the semi-automatic weapon used to shoot mother and son on October 12, 2015, had been also been used to shoot Jamie Rothwell.
He was shot at least three times moments after being dropped off at Express car wash.
A white Seat Ibiza pulled up opposite the car wash and a masked man got out of the passenger seat and shot Mr Rothwell over the roof of car. CCTV played to the jury showed him clutching his stomach and then scampering into a waiting room at the car wash.
Forensic science expert Sharon Fowler told the jury she had examined a series of bullet casings and fragments as well as the fragment of a bullet removed from Jamie Rothwell’s forearm when he was taken to hospital.
The court heard she agreed with another ballistics expert who had concluded the weapon used to shoot Jamie Rothwell had also been used to shoot Christian Hickey and his mother Jayne.
She said three bullet casings were found at the car wash and their position suggested the gun had been fired from pavement.
The bullet casings were 9mm parabellum calibre which had been manufactured by Winchester, said Ms Fowler. She concluded that the weapon which had discharged these casings was a Heckler and Koch P7 handgun.
The jurors heard that a substantial number of bullet fragments were found at the scene which had been fired and which were damaged.
These bullet fragments were of a 9mm parabellum calibre as was a silver bullet which was also found.
The calibre of other damaged bullet fragments found at the scene could not be established and so it was not possible to establish whether they had been fired from the same barrel although it could not be ruled out either, the jurors heard.
Ms Fowler said the evidence suggested just one gun had been used. The discovery of three bullet cartridges suggested at least three shots had been fired. The gun used was a Heckler and Koch P7 self-loading pistol which also known as a semi-automatic, according to Ms Fowler.
Most commonly such guns, she said, had eight cartridges in the magazine.
The jurors watched a series of police video interviews conducted with Mrs Hickey as she lay injured in her hospital bed.
She said she thought she was ‘going to die’ and could see blood pouring from her wounded, motionless son.
In the first interview a day after the October 12 shooting in 2015, an unseen police officer is heard saying Jayne Hickey is on a list for emergency surgery and could be called into theatre at any time. She said she had been to her mum’s and then to Asda in Trafford Park to get her son a phone as he was starting to play out with friends.
When she got home, her son did his maths and literacy homework and excitedly went to the front door following a knock, thinking it was his returning sister who had gone to swmming.
Christian looked through the window blinds and told his mum: “Mum, mum, there’s a postman stood at the end of the drive.”
Mrs Hickey looked and saw ‘a young lad leaning against my car’.
She opened the door and heard the man shouting but didn’t understand what he was saying at first
She said ‘pardon’ and then asked if her husband was in before saying ‘naaah, naaah’.
She went on: “I said just a minute and the next thing somebody came from the side of the van and started shooting.
“I tried slamming the door and the next thing I look and there’s blood pouring out of my son’s leg. I looked at me and seen I have been injured as well.”
She added: “I just slammed the door and started screaming for Chris. I started screaming for Chris to come. I told him to sort Christian and lock the front door so nobody could get in. I was just telling him to sort Christian, sort Christian and leave me. He took Christian into the living room and he was on the phone to the police and the ambulance and whatever else.
“She said the police had to secure the area before the ambulance was allowed in.
“It was probably the longest six minutes of my life,” said Mrs Hickey.
She recalled neighbours coming over ‘trying to help’.
The jurors saw how the interview had to be cut short when Mrs Hickey was called into theatre.
In a second hospital interview four days later Mrs Hickey told officers: “I opened the door and he’s shouted ‘is your husband in?’ I didn’t understand him properly. I said pardon and he shouted ‘is your husband in?’ I don’t know whether he’s talking to me or somebody else.
He’s saying ‘naaaah, naaaah’. Before I knew it, someone else has come from the back of my husband’s (car) door and I slammed the door and looked at my son and realised he had been shot. He had it pouring from his leg. I started screaming for my husband to grab Christian, put pressure on the wound.
“Christian wasn’t crying, he wasn’t screaming. He wasn’t reacting to it in any way. And then I saw blood pouring from his legs. I was saying to Chris to sort Christian out. I collapsed to the floor. I remember I phoned the police and phoned the ambulance and the neighbours were pouring from the street over the road to help us and help me.
“Mrs Hickey described the man she had spoken to as of medium build, not very tall and stocky. He had ‘really rough lumps on his skin’.The man was wearing a jacket which was ‘zipped right up’ while the baseball cap had been pulled down, she said. She could see part of the eyes but ‘not clearly enough’.
She told the officer: “Every time I shut my eyes after it happened he was there.”
Asked why she thought the shooting had happened, she said: “I have no idea. I don’t know at all. The only thing I can think of, I keep thinking it was because Chris was sent to prison for manslaughter. That’s the only thing.”
She said that after Chris and his cousin Philip had been sentenced there had been something overheard in a chippy in Little Hulton that ‘the cousins are going to get it when they get out’.
When Philip had got out he had been threatened, she said.
“I just think somebody (was) threatening Philip,” she said. Asked why they would be after Chris, she went on: “I don’t know. I don’t know whether it’s revenge.”
More of Mrs Hickeys police video interviews are played in court.
Mrs Hickey said the face of the man she had spoken to at the door was ‘etched on my brain’ and that she saw him in nightmares and every time she closed her eyes.
And she said her husband blamed himself.
Mrs Hickey, asked if her husband felt a bit guilty, said: “He blames himself but he lives in hindsight for ages (saying) I should have answered the door blah-de-blah-de-blah. It’s never going to change it. He will end up living in a rut, just hanging onto it.”
Chris Hickey, said to work in the building trade, and Michael Carroll had been school friends who had been in prison together, according to Mrs Hickey.
In another police interview played to the jury from her hospital bed, Mrs Hickey said she couldn’t believe her husband was ‘involved in anything’.
She said she always understood that Michael Carroll worked as a scaffolder and owned or part-owned a company.
“Chris told me he owned different businesses and kind of potted about. I just kind of assumed it was to do with that,” said Mrs Hickey.
In a later police interview almost five months after the shooting, Mrs Hickey revealed she had clicked on a story about ‘what happened in Spain’ and saw two pictures, and she said one of them was the man she had spoken to at the door.
“I felt sick when I first saw him, just kind of completely overwhelmed. I felt physically sick when I saw it. Then it turned to upset and then anger and I threw the iPad across the room,” said Mrs Hickey.
She said the story named the man as Carne Thomas.
Carne Thomasson was among the people held following a raid by Spanish police in Marbella where a loaded Browning pistol, ammunition, a baseball bat, mobile phones and cash were found.
Pictures of the seizures have been shown to the jury.
The alleged boss of The A Team, Stephen Britton and others were said to have flown to Spain to follow his rival Michael Carroll.
Asked if she had ever met the man she saw in the picture before, Mrs Hickey said: “Only at the front door.”
She added: “His face and features are etched on my brain, in my nightmares if you like. Every time I close my eyes I see him.”
Mrs Hickey said the names Carne and Armo had been mentioned to her previously as the people responsible for the shooting.
It had been ‘a bit of a shock’ to learn Her husband’s link to Michael Carroll was behind the attack but their association ‘just doesn’t warrant’ the shooting, she said.
The jury heard evidence from Christian Hickey snr, also known as, Chris.
He was drinking beer and watching football on TV in the living room when his son, who had been doing his homework, went to answer the door with his mother.
Giving evidence behind screens, Mr Hickey told the court his daughter was out and he was expecting her grandfather would bring her home.
He went on: “There’s a knock at the door and my son thought it was his sister. It was about the time she would be home. Whenever anyone knocks on the door he always asks who is it? At this point I thought his sister was going to come in. I didn’t think anything else.”
His son reported he thought it was the postman and mother and son went to the door while he carried on watching the football, said Mr Hickey.
He went on: “I heard loud bangs, I think there was three. At first I thought it was fireworks and (thought) whats going on? I heard my wife screaming ‘Chris I think I’ve been shot’. I was just in disbelief really and saw my wife on the floor.”
He added: “There was a lot of blood on my wife’s legs. I couldn’t really see much blood on my son. As I went over I saw blood on his leg but I thought it was from Jayne.”
Mr Hickey was heard to become upset in the witness box as he recalled that his son had told him: “Dad I’ve been shot.”
He continued: “I just slammed the door shut and my wife was just screaming to get Christian out of the way.”
He said he picked Christian up and layed him down where he had been watching football.
He noted his son ‘seemed very calm’.
“At that point I didn’t think he had been shot,” said Mr Hickey.
He said he checked the back door was locked and made a 999 call.
It was ‘a very long time’ before police and ambulance came, according to Mr Hickey.
Under-cross examination by Simon Csoka QC, representing Carne Thomasson, Mr Hickey was grilled about his links to Michael Carroll, said to be the leader of the rival gang to the A Team.
Mr Hickey, who admitted he had served time for manslaughter, insisted he thought Mr Carroll had worked as a scaffolder and wasn’t ‘a ganster’. He denied he had been used by Mr Carroll to put Mr Thomasson in the frame.
He confirmed Michael Carroll had given him the name of Carne Thomasson, saying it was a rumour, but he could not recall telling his wife.
In the middle of the grilling the QC asked the witness: “Are you able to tell the truth?”
“Yes, I am,” replied Mr Hickey.
The jurors are sent home while the barristers are engaged in legal argument about CCTV footage of the Audi said to have been used as a getaway car.
The jurors hear from Detective Sgt Paul Reece who gives evidence about the CCTV coverage and vehicle identification expert Martin Weightman about the movement of the getaway car.
Roy Tench was a neighbour and lived across the road from the Hickeys.
He told the jurors in a statement: “I had a clear view of the house. I know the occupants as they have lived there for several years.
“On October 12, I was at home with my wife, it was after 9pm and I was watching TV. I decided to go to the toilet and paused the TV.
“Almost immediately after I heard two explosions in close succession. At first I thought they were fireworks due to the time of year.
“I made my way to the front door 30 seconds after and I could hear a faint wailing sound.
“I got the impression it was a woman. Within 10 seconds I saw a dark coloured focus pull up outside the address.
“I am familiar with the vehicle so shut the door and went back inside.”
“A short while later I went back outside.
“As I did their daughter came over and said her mum had been shot. I could hear screaming that sounded painful.
“As I looked into the house Jayne was lying in the hallway and screaming in pain. Her husband was running around frantically saying we needed an ambulance. I could see her leggings were stained with blood and there was a pool of blood on the floor.
“On the sofa I could see the son lying down. He was white in a state of shock and said ‘don’t leave me’.
“I could see a bullet hole about half an inch in the front door.”
In a statement read to the court, Roy Tench’s wife, Marie said: “I was sat on the computer and I heard two bangs which sounded like fireworks given the time of year.
“Within seconds of hearing the second bang I could hear a wailing which sounded like a female.
“I was stood behind Roy as he opened the front door, it was dark outside. I heard no other noises and couldn’t see anyone else on the street.
“The next thing their daughter came to the door saying, ‘my mum has been shot, my mum has been shot’.
“She was in a real state and told me her younger brother had also been shot. I was trying to calm her down as she was in a hysterical state crying.”
Days 10 and 11 and 12 and 13
Phone and car evidence
The jurors hear detailed evidence about the phone contact between Carne Thomasson and Christopher Hall, who was said to have stored the gun and then driven the getaway car to Scotland to be disposed of. The movement of others phones is also explored with cell-site expert Darren Greener.
The phone evidence suggested some of the defendants co-ordinated the disposal of the Audi from Manchester and that a few days later Carne Thomasson was dropped off in Scotland.
The jury is played Christian Hickey Snr’s panicked 999 call following the incident.
The recording starts with screams in the background as Mr Hickey said: “I think my son has been shot. Please, please. Quickly please. My son has been shot he is only seven years old. Quick. I’ve locked the door, I’ve locked the door. Please send someone quickly.
He continues: “Please, please. It’s okay, don’t worry, don’t worry, you’re okay, you’re okay. Jayne where are you hit?”
More screaming was heard as he said: “My son has been shot in the leg and my wife has been shot in both legs. Oh hurry up please. Hurry up.
“Hurry up my wife has been shot in both legs. They opened the door – my wife thought it was our daughter. I didn’t see I’ve been sat inside.
“My wife answered the door Hurry up please, please. There is lots of blood, there’s lots of blood. I’m helping darling, I’m helping. My son is going white now please hurry up. I don’t know. He is going white.
“My wife is type 1 diabetic. They are conscious but my wife is losing a lot of blood. My son’s on the couch. Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up.”
In a second call made at 9.38pm by Mr Hickey asks when the ambulance will arrive.
The emergency call handler tells him it’s on his way and the call is ends.
Agreed facts are read to the jury.
The jurors hear that Aldaire Warmington had peaded guilty to possessing two prohited weapons previously, a Baikal and Heckler and Koch, on a basis. The Heckler and Koch was used in the shootings of the Hickeys and Jamie Rothwell.
That basis stated that he participated in the transporting of two unloaded firearms from Salford to north Cheshire. He said he had no long term control over these weapons and was to have no further involvement with them had they been successfully transported.
He said he had no knowledge of any previous incidents in which these weapons had been used. Aldaire Warmington said his involvement in the weapons began shortly before 7pm on December 15 and was restricted to the transportation of the firearms and included providing a mobile phone to someone assisting Christopher Hall.
He said that when Christopher Hall did not arrive at his planned destination and contact was lost, he was asked to go to Mobberley to assist in establishing what had happened.
The jurors are told that the prosecution in this trial did not accept this basis of Aldair Warmington’s plea was an accurate account of his crime.
The jurors were told that Michael Carroll was in contact with Chris Hickey’s employer on October 15.
The next day Chris Hickey was video interviewed by police and he said that Michael Carroll had not yet made contact with him.
Mr Hickey told the officer he was unaware of anyone that Michael Carroll had spoken to. He went on: “I believe my wife’s been looking on Facebook and I believe that… well it’s not known whether he’s in Spain but his Mrs is in England. She’s seen that on her Facebook but I don’t think she knows Michael’s Facebook.”
Mr Hickey went on: “But I’m trying my hardest to get my head round and help you in any way and my wife’s doing the same. Yeah we did pass some information on about some camera that points down Slater Street, as I say we’re working every angle because Jayne knows the area so well and people from the area on Facebook, who are contacting her friends, just any little thing we’re passing on.”
The jurors were told that a police family liaison officer had been in touch with the detective leading the case on October 27, 2015, to report that Chris Hickey had been in contact with Michael Carroll who wanted to speak to the officer.
Mr Hickey also reported that Michael Carroll had told him that ‘Armo’ and Carne Thomasson were responsible, the jurors were told.
The following day Michael Carroll himself contacted Salford police. The call was put on speaker phone and notes were made of the call.
Detectives visited the Hickeys on January 5, 2016, and the couple told the officers how they had conducted their own internet research into the two arrested men, and had identified the business address of Christopher Hall’s parents, the jurors heard.
The court heard Michael Carroll telephoned the police incident room and told a detective constable he believed the A Team was responsible for the shooting and that ‘Carne’ was involved.
A senior detective asked the witness protection team on February 26, 2016, to obtain the iPad on which Jayne Hickey was said to have captured an image of Carne Thomasson.
The jurors have previously heard her give evidence that she she saw an image of the man she spoke to at the door in a story on The Sun website.
Jayne Hickey told police on March 1, 2016, that she had not spoken to Michael Carroll since November, the jurors were told.
The witness protection team told detectives on April 14, 2016, that efforts to retrieve the iPad from Mrs Hickey had failed and two weeks later a warrant was obtained to seize it, the court heard.
The iPad was obtained on May 4, 2016, by prior appointment through a police family liaison officer, it was said. It was handed over voluntarily and the warrant was not executed.
The jurors heard that the browsing history of the iPaid was deleted about 90 minutes before it was handed over. The ‘cookies’ had not been deleted nor had the iMessages or chat histories.
There was no cookies from the Sun website, it was said.
The jurors were told that Carne Thomasson was arrested in Spain on February 16, 2016. With him were Stephen Britton and Declan Gorman.
Carne Thomasson was returned to the UK on August 8, 2018 where he was arrested and charged with the offences with which he is now being tried, the jurors were told.
When Aldair Warmington was arrested on March 23, 2016, he made no comment to questions in interview. He made no comment when he was charged on June 27, 2018.
The court heard that when John Thomasson was charged he told officers: “It’s got nothing to do with me. It might have something to do with my family, but it’s got nothing to do with me.”
When Christopher Hall was arrested, he made no comment to questions except for when he was asked about the murder of Paul Massey.
Then, he told officers: “He was a wonderful man.” He said nothing when he was charged.
Lincoln Warmington answered no questions when arrested and interviewed, and made no comment when he was charged.
Dominic Walton declined to answer questions when he was arrested and interviewed. He declined to have legal advice. He made no reply when charged.
When James Coward was arrested and interviewed he didn’t answer questions but offered a prepared statement denying he was a member of The A Team or any organised crime group. After a later arrest, he made another prepared statement saying he had nothing to do with the disposal of the Audi in Scotland. When he was charged, he said: “I am not guilty of this offence.”
The prosecution’s case is closed.
Giving evidence, John Kent, 54, insisted he had warned his ‘son-in-law’ Aldair Warmington – allegedly one of the gang’s ‘prominent’ members – never to involve his daughter in ‘whatever he did’.
Mr Kent told the jury he had been attempting to collect a £1,500 debt for his boss at asbestos clearing firm UK Environmental when he was stopped and ordered from his van before it was then used in the shooting of ‘career criminal’ Mr Rothwell.
He said he recognised one of the men, Jacob Harrison, who has admitted his part in the shooting.
Mr Kent, who admitted to a number of previous convictions including possessing shotgun cartridges in his youth, denied he had told the court a ‘pack of lies’, insisting he had not been able to reveal his defence for fear of reprisals until Mr Harrison had admitted his guilt.
Mr Kent, whose daughter is the partner of one of the men in the dock Aldair Warmington, told the jury he had never heard of the A Team until after the car wash shooting when he found out ‘from the press’.
As he was cross-examined by Paul Greaney QC, the defendant insisted he had ever spoken to Aldair Warmington about The A Team and he said he had ‘not got a clue’ whether the car wash shooting was an A Team attack on Jamie Rothwell.
He agreed he was aware Aldair Warmington didn’t work, and also agreed with the prosecutor’s suggestion he was ‘into something illegitimate’.
When the QC asked if Aldair Warmington wore nice clothes, Mr Kent said a lot of youngsters wore nice clothes.
He agreed he had not asked Mr Warmington what he did for a living and also agreed he was worried for his daughter, Aldair Warmington’s partner.
Mr Kent, pressed on what conversations he had had with his ‘son-in-law’ Aldair Warmington, said: “That’s the one thing I have said to him (that) is never involve my daughter in whatever he did.”
The QC accused the defendant of ‘ambushing the prosecution’ with a ‘misleading’ version of events. The defendant denied this and said: “It’s me telling the truth. It’s me being able to tell the truth.”
He said he was fearful of Jacob Harrison, who was ‘not a nice man’, and insisted he did not recognise the two other men with him when he says he was forced from his van.
Pressed on the identities of these men, he said: “I don’t want to know because that means grassing them up and I don’t want to do that… I don’t want to know… I have never seen them before and I’ve never seen them since.”
Mr Kent became agitated in the witness box as he said he had nothing to do with the shooting.
“To go out and hurt someone, no chance mate,” he told the QC.
Mr Kent had claimed he been trying to collect a debt from a man called Rob at The Triangle snooker club for work to remove asbestos but the jurors heard enquiries had shown that the boss was actually called Darren and he had reported no such work was carried out.
When it was suggested he had told a ‘pack of lies’ Mr Kent replied: “No, no.”
The defendant suggested Darren should be brought to court to see if it was the same man.
Carne Thomasson, 28, gave evidence and said he was a big-time cannabis dealer earning up to £5,000-a-week but denied he was ‘a monster’ and insisted he had nothing to do with the shooting of little Christian Hickey and his mother.
He claimed to be a cannabis dealer known as Tuna (from a drug dealer in the film Blow) and claimed he had been partying the night before and then had been involved in organising a shipment of drugs to Edinburgh at the time of the shooting.
He told the jury he became aware of the shooting on the radio at his father’s house and learned that ‘a son’ had been hit.
The defendant recalled his father saying ‘if that ever happens to you’.
“That’s why it sticks in my mind,” said Mr Thomasson as he was questioned by his QC Simon Csoka.He agreed it was ‘massive news’ in Manchester. He agreed people were talking about it in Salford and the police presence was ‘quite big’.
He said police had been to his house while he was away to issue him a threat to life notice but he said he never learned why.
Mr Thomasson claimed he was unwittingly involved in the movement of the Heckler and Koch gun and another weapon, only realising what they were later. He denied orchestrating the weapons’ movement.
He told the jury he felt ‘pretty nervous’ and it was ‘pretty bad’ when he realised in news reports that one of the guns had been used for the shootings of Jamie Rothwell and the Hickeys.
Mr Thomasson said: “I wouldn’t want my son to grow up thinking I was part of anything like that.”
Mr Thomasson said he ‘needed to get out of England’ and went to Spain where Stephen Britton had already moved with his family.
The prosecution has said Mr Britton was on a mission to kill Michael Carroll but Mr Thomasson said: “It didn’t look to me like he was going to Spain to kill somebody.”
The allegation that his enemies had travelled to Spain to kill Michael Carroll ‘was a load of s**t’, according to Mr Thomasson.
He said he spent nine months in custody in Spain and then moved to Alicante where he said he worked in construction. His girlfriend Jess moved over to Spain too, he said. They now had a 14-month-old son who was born in Spain, the court heard.
Extradition proceedings then brought him back to the UK, the jurors were told.
Mr Thomasson said the case in Spain had now been dropped and he wanted to ‘clear my name’.
The defendant, under cross-examination by Paul Greaney QC for the Crown, conceded he was associated with the A Team but said his involvement was only financial and he wasn’t involved in violence.
The QC accused the defendant of ‘deliberately and cynically’ downplaying his role in The A Team and of trying to confuse the facts.
Under questioning, Mr Thomasson interrupted the Crown barrister and told him: “You are trying to paint me as a monster but I’m not. I was not at Chris Hickey’s door.”
He added: “At the end of the day a little kid has been shot but the wrong people are in the dock.”The defendant was questioned about his suggestion that he was paid £400 for what was being moved in the taxi when he was earning up to £5,000 a week or £260,000 a year without paying any tax.
Mr Thomasson admitted he had ‘lived a good lifestyle’ which included going to restaurants like San Carlo, and buying nice clothes but he said at Christmas time he was suffering losses.
“I had a lot of police following me so little bits of money was helping me out,” he said.
Carne Thomasson continues to give evidence.
He said he had been framed over the shooting because he had dated a rival gang leader’s girlfriend. Carne Thomasson claimed it may have been ‘a bit of an ego crusher’ for the alleged leader of the rival outfit.
He alleged he was in the dock at Manchester Crown Court because the leader of the A Team’s rival, said to be Michael Carroll, had told a ‘full blown lie’, allegedly persuading the mother of the boy to implicate him in the shooting.
He said Michael Carroll had ‘pushed her’ into identifying him as the person on the doorstep.
The jurors heard that Mr Carroll fled to Spain as the war intensified later to be pursued by Mr Thomasson, another defendant Jacob Harrison and Stephen Britton, the alleged leader of The A Team, along with others.
“Michael Carroll has thought ‘he’s come to Spain to kill me – let’s set him up’. He’s said that scruffy Carne Thomasson has come to kill me,” Mr Thomasson told the jury.
He alleged Mr Carroll must have told Jayne Hickey: “Go on, say it’s him.”
Asked why Michael Carroll had wanted to frame him, the defendant said it might have been because he had seen Mr Carroll’s then ex girlfriend Lauren Murchie. He suggested Mr Carroll wore flash clothing while he was regarded as ‘scruffy’.
“It might have been a bit of an ego crusher for him,” said Mr Thomasson, who denied he had travelled to Spain on a violent mission with Stephen Britton.
The father of a 14-month-old said he had traveled to Spain to start a new life. He said he had learned to speak Spanish and had worked as a handyman in Alicante.
Mr Thomasson said he could not explain why there were knives in the car when he and two others were arrested in Spain, adding that he had been staying in another room in the apartment to the one where Spanish police found the Browning gun.
The jury was told the defendant was extradited back to the UK but he says he has returned to clear his name.
Mr Thomasson, who has admitted he was a drug supplier, says he was involved in organising a kilo of cannabis destined for Scotland at the time of the shooting.
He denied a suggestion that he must have been earning £1m-a-year supplying cannabis.
After he completed his evidence, a witness who cannot be named for legal reasons told the jury Mr Thomasson was at his mother’s home watching football in his bedroom on the night of the Hickeys’ shooting.
Aldaire Warmington, 32, gives evidence admits he made hundreds of thousands of pounds dealing cocaine and cannabis but insisted he was visiting his poorly aunt at the time the mother and son were shot.
He claimed he had been ‘naive and stupid’ by getting involved in the movement of the semi-automatic pistol used in the shooting two months later.
He said he had been involved in supplying large quantities of cannabis and cocaine across the north west and in Edinburgh but denied he had conspired to murder Chris Hickey.
The defendant admitted a string of previous convictions including one possessing of possessing two guns including the one used in the shooting in December, 2015, for which he was jailed.
He said he had been ‘naive and stupid’ to get involved and vehemently denied he had been involved in sourcing the weapon on the day of the shooting.
Refusing to name others who had been involved in moving the gun, he said he wasn’t a grass or a police informant.
Mr Warmington said he had never heard of the Hickeys and was visiting his poorly aunt in Boothstown with his partner and their daughter at the time of the shooting.
Asked to explain a flurry of telephone exchanges the following day, Mr Warmington said he was organising a kilo of cannabis destined for Edinburgh and denied he had been involved in moving an Audi getaway car said to have been used by the gunman to Scotland to be disposed of.
He denied he was a senior member of The A Team although he admitted he associated with people who had been photographed doing the gang’s hand gesture, forming the later A.
Under cross-examination by Paul Greaney QC, for the Crown, admitted he and his twin brother Lincoln, a co-defendant, were known in Salford.
He agreed he had a reputation as a criminal but denied he was known for ‘sorting things out’.
He said he was polite and nice to everyone ‘whether I’ve got five pence or five million’.”I’m a nice guy,” he said.
John Thomasson gives evidence. He admitted he had taken his nephew Carne on a series of trips that day but he denied he had been involved in helping his nephew to collect the gun or help dispose of the alleged getaway car.
Describing the shooting, he said: “It was just another shocking local incident which happens quite regularly in Salford.”
Asked by his QC Stephen Meadowcroft if he had anything to do with the shooting of Jayne Hickey and her son, he said: “Definitely not.”
When he learned of the shooting he said he ‘felt sick’.Earlier in the trial Carne Thomasson also denied inolvement in the shooting but admitted he was a major supplier of cannabis and cocaine.
Under cross-examination by Paul Greaney QC, for the Crown, he said he had believed at the time his nephew was unemployed.
The defendant said: “I didn’t get involved in that side of his life. That was up to him.”
But he conceded later he now realised he was a criminal.
The defendant said he was unaware his nephew was using him to drive him around for criminal activity.
“I wouldn’t expect him to involve me in his criminal activities, if you want to say that. I’m just giving him a lift,” said Mr Thomasson.
Pressed further, he went on: “I’d like to think he has got a bit of respect for me.”
The jurors heard that, while he made no comment during his police interviews, when he was charged John Thomasson said: “It’s got nothing to do with me. It might have something to do with my family but it’s got nothing to do with me.”
Mr Thomasson denied he had made a slip and said he couldn’t recall making the comment.
Pressed further on his nephew’s alleged role on the shooting, he said: “I didn’t think he would the type of guy to do such horrible things.”
He said he had given his nephew a lift to Edinburgh – where the prosecution allege an Audi S3 getaway car was taken to be destroyed – after the shooting as it was ‘something to do’.
He said Carne Thomasson had asked him for a ‘massive favour’ in taking him to Scotland but the defendant said he had been told by Carne it was to visit friends.
Another agreed fact states that another man perceived to be a member of the A team, Dylan Whitehead, was arrested at Manchester Airpprt on February 5, 2016 and he had a passport belonging to a man named as David Moran.
Mr Whitehead’s luggage was searched and full face balaclava was found wrapped in boxer shorts, the court heard.An airline ticket was also found for a flight for David Moran to Malaga.
Cairns Nelson QC, defending John Kent, then stands to read out agreed facts on behalf of his client.He confirms that name of the man who had driven Jamie Rothwell from the Express car wash, after he had been shot, was Stuart Baldwin, who owned Bryn Hall Farm.
The jurors were told that from January 2014 Jamie Rothwell rented an apartment on the farm from Mr Baldwin.
The court heard that in 2013 and 2014 Mr Baldwin had been having problems with members of the travelling community said to have been trespassing and intimidating people.
After Mr Rothwell moved into the apartment, Mr Baldwin asked Mr Rothwell to provide security and the jurors heard there were no more problems after 2014.
The jurors are unaware that the judge dismisses an application by Dominic Walton’s defence to dismiss the case against him.
Days 25, 26
Barristers start making their closing speeches.
After six weeks of evidence, prosecutor Mr Greaney began his closing address to the jury, telling them: “This trial has exposed you to world you have probably only experienced reading newspapers or watching TV and that the world is of serious and organised crime.”
The feud seemed to start when the roof of a car owned by Mr Carroll’s girlfiend was sawn off and his gang’s response was ‘savage’, the court was told.
Alleged A Team members were attacked, it was said, with one shot in his car, another slashed with a machete and a grenade being thrown at the home of two other supposed gang members.
“This was developing into a medieval style feud although the weaponry was more sophisticated,” said Mr Greaney.
The gang responded by shooting an associate of Michael Carroll,Jamie Rothwell, who survived despite being blasted at Express car wash in Ashton-in-Makerfield on March 30, 2015, he said.
The shooting of the Hickeys was a ‘botched’ A Team revenge mission to avenge the murder of Paul Massey three months before, according to the QC.Of Massey’s death, he said: “He was ambushed on the doorstep of his own home by Mark Fellows and Mark Fellows was armed with a sub-machine gun. His attack left no scope for anything to occur than the death of Paul Massey. Paul Massey was executed. He was assassinated. Mark Fellows was responsible for that shooting and there’s a proper basis for believing that the A Team was aware of that and so weeks later Mark Fellows was himself shot. But he survived. It was botched.”
Then the QC moved on to the shooting of the Hickeys ‘with the same gun that had been used to shot Jamie Rothwell’.
It provided ‘a strong basis for concluding that that attack was also carried out by the A Team’.The QC said it was ‘clear’ that the intended target of the attack at the home of the Hickeys was Christian Hickey senior.
He pointed to the ‘closeness’ of Mr Hickey to Michael Carroll, who had been the best man at the wedding of the Hickeys. Mr Hickey had also helped Michael Carroll purchase a holiday home, the jurors were told. There had also been a ‘shady side’ to the relationship between Carroll and Mr Hickey, said Mr Greaney.
Carne Thomasson’s QC Simon Csoka suggested the boy’s parents had lied to implicate his client.
He blasted Christian Hickey snr’s actions, who he had said had shown more loyalty to his friend Carroll than his wife, and said Jayne Hickey had wanted to do the right thing but suggested she had been ‘put upon’.
Mrs Hickey has previously told the trial she recognised Carne Thomasson as the man who came to her door and asked to speak to her husband from a story she saw in The Sun after Thomasson and others were arrested in Spain.
Mr Csoka said it had been an ‘appalling event’ but he urged the jurors not to let emotion dictate their deliberations as this would ‘bring about rough justice and not British justice’.
“That appalling horror, you put that out of your mind and you just think about it in terms of the evidence,” said the QC.
He said anyone who had been shot would be ‘desperate’ to tell the truth and he asked the jurors to consider whether the Hickeys had lied and, if they decide they had lied, why they had done so.
The QC added: “What on earth’s going on? Who’s pulling the strings in the background? Who’s manipulating people? Who’s loyal to who? Who’s answering to who?”
Mr Csoka said it had been ‘shocking’ that even in the most basic part of the case where police had recorded details of conversations with the Hickeys that the couple had denied the accuracy of the records and had said ‘well the police must have just said that’.
He described as ‘bizarre’ that the parents of a boy who had been shot would deny police records of what they had said.
The QC asked the jurors to consider ‘how absurd’ was the Hickeys’ constant claim that they thought Michael Carroll was ‘just a humble scaffolder, the godfather to their child and the best man at their wedding’.
Chris Hickey had been to prison with Michael Carroll and had known him all his life, said Mr Csoka.”Just a humble scaffolder driving around in 50 grand cars? It was just getting more and more absurd,” said the QC
Mr Csoka said: “Why not just say ‘we know he’s a gangster, I knew his mates and felt loyal to him’. Why not just tell the truth?”
Any sense of loyalty should have gone ‘out of the window’ and the QC questioned why they hadn’t told the truth.”The only explanation is some sort of agenda, an agenda of fear, intimidation and loyalty,” he said.
Of the two parents, Mr Csoka suggested to the jurors they were ‘obviously sympathetic to Jayne Hickey’.She already had an older child and ‘probably had a happy life’ before meeting Chris Hickey when he got out of prison, said Mr Csoka.
Mr Hickey ‘gets her pregnant, gets her married, brings his mates round, brings Michael Carroll round’, he said.
They were ‘gangsters’ suggested Mr Csoka who added: “And that’s where it all goes wrong doesn’t it? That’s where everything goes wrong for her. You could imagine she could be quite put upon. We saw what Chris Hickey was like and the way he behaved when he was giving evidence. You can imagine what he would be like at home.”
“You could imagine how she might end up doing what Michael Carroll has asked to bring about. Obviously you are going to be sympathetic to her her but much less sympathetic to Christian Hickey snr.”
Mr Csoka reminded the jurors of the trips Chris Hickey admitted he had made to visit Michael Carroll in Dubai and Thailand after the shooting.
He said: “When you think about what Jayne Hickey had been through and what her lad had been through, what his lad, his seven-year-old boy had been through, and then it’s ‘off you go Chris’ for a holiday in Dubai with Michael Carroll, and to Thailand. ‘Why don’t you have another holiday wth Michael Carroll? You probably need the rest after all you’ve been through’.”
The QC asked: “Is that the way somebody would have behaved?”Mr Csoka suggested it had been an ‘absolutely disgrace’ for Christian Hickey snr, at a time when his family had been relocated, ‘to go swanning off on holiday twice with Michael Carroll’.
He went on: “What kind of man does that other than a man who’s completely and utterly loyal to Michael Carroll? More loyal to that gangster Carroll than to his wife and to his son who was shot.”
The QC added: “It’s a gangster’s agenda. It’s a gangster’s justice. And if you think about what a gangster does, it’s about what you want yourself and making other people do what you want them to do. Isn’t that how gangsters operate?”
Mr Csoka said: “Isn’t that what Michael Carroll is doing? He’s getting them to do what he wants to happen.”The QC referred to his client’s evidence in the trial where he alleged Carroll may have been angry that he had been asked on a date with Carroll’s ex.It had provided a ‘powerful motive’ for Michael Carroll, said Mr Csoka.
Aldaire Warmington’s QC Mark George, in his closing speech, urged the jury not to be ‘deflected’ by the repeated assertions in the trial that his client was a leading member of the A Team.
“He isn’t on trial here for being a gang member,” said the QC.
Mr George went on: “The case against Aldair Warmington is in truth a thin case based plainly on wishful thinking and speculation.
“The case against his client was that he was orchestrating, and ‘pulling strings’, from Boothstown, the jurors were told, but his barrister said the evidence fell ‘far short’ of proving his client’s guilt.
Mr Warmingon is accused of ‘pulling the strings’ from Boothstown but Mr George said the prosecution had not proved the Audi S3 getaway car had been to Boothstown on the day of the shooting.
The QC said the jurors could not be sure images of a car captured in Boothstown were the same car seen Dover Street near the scene of the shooting.Around the time of the shooting his client, he said, was visiting his poorly aunt in Boothstown after she had had a liver transplant.
During his evidence, Mr Warmington admitted he had been a big-time drug dealer, trading in cannabis.
Mr George asked the jurors to think about how Aldair Warmington came across in the witness box.
“Did he come over as shifty, uncooperative or unwilling to explain or did you think in fact that considering the circumstances he’s in he gave his evidence very well?” said the QC.
“It must be a strain on anyone on trial for a very serious charge like to stand up in the witness box in front of all these people in court under pressure to explain themselves.
“But he answered questions and we invite you to consider that he was very impressive. If his account is true or may have been true then he’s not guilty because it’s the prosecution who must prove the case against him.”
He went on: “He makes his living as a drug dealer and I don’t suppose that impresses you greatly but we need to be realistic because from day one of this case the prosecution say these men are part of a criminal gang.
“You may think that Greater Manchester Police must know a great deal about the people on trial but Mr Warminton has not tried to hide that from you. He’s been straight with you.
“If he had gone into the witness box and claimed to be a carer ‘I don’t suppose you would have believed him’, said Mr George.
“But he’s admitted making a living selling drugs and no doubt that won’t impress you and it doesn’t commend him to you,” said the QC.
“But that doesn’t make him, does it, a would-be murderer just because he’s someone disgraceful for what he does. That doesn’t make him a murderer or a would-be murderer.”
The QC reminded the jurors that his client had denied being a member of the A Team and pointed out they had seen no pictures of him doing the A Team hand gesture as with other defendants.
His client’s trip to Scotland the day after the shooting wasn’t to ensure the disposal of the Audi but to deal in drugs.
Mr Warmington had been involved in the movement of two guns, including the one used to shoot the Hickeys, two months later but he had admitted that and had received ‘proper punishment’ for it, according to Mr George.
“But where is the evidence that Aldair Warmington took part in a conspiracy to kill or to cause GBH or to pervert the course of justice? Where’s the evidence that proves that?” he asked.
The QC told the jurors ‘you have to be sure’ before they found his client guilty and stressed that it was for the prosecution to prove guilt.He said the case had not been proved against a case his client, adding: “Maybe he was involved but how can you possibly say for sure.”
Day 29, 30 and 31
The judge, Mr Justice Popplewell, sums up the case and gives the jury legal directions.
The jury is sent out to consider verdicts late in the afternoon.
“Take as long as you feel you need. You are under no pressure of time. These are very important decisions. Take as long as you want,” the judge tells them.
Deliberations continue. The jurors are sent home early as they say they have reached an impasse.
The jury foreman reveals they ‘not yet’ reached verdicts on each count for each defendant.
After reading a note from the jury, the judge tells the jurors to continue to strive for unanimous verdicts but he will now accept majority verdicts on which at least ten are agreed.
The jurors are sent away again to resume their deliberations.
They return after lunch, following deliberations across three days lasting less then ten hours, to deliver their verdicts.
The foreman stands to deliver the verdicts.
John Kent: is found GUILTY of conspiracy to cause GBH with intent in connection with the shooting of Jamie Rothwell. He is found GUILTY of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Carne Thomasson: is found NOT GUILTY of conspiracy to murder but GUILTY of the alternative of conspiracy to cause GBH with intent in connection with the Hickey shooting. He is found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the couse of justice in connection with attempts to dump the getaway car
Aldair Warmington: is found NOT GUILTY of conspiracy to murder but GUILTY of the alternative of conspiracy to cause GBH with intent in connection with the Hickey shooting. He is found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the couse of justice in connection with attempts to dump the getaway car.
John Thomasson: is found NOT GUILTY of all the charges he faced.
Christopher Hall: is found NOT GUILTY of conspiracy to murder but GUILTY of the alternative of conspiracy to cause GBH with intent in connection with the Hickey shooting. He is found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in connection with attempts to dump the getaway car
Lincoln Warmington: is found GUILTY of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in connection with attempts to dump the getaway car.
Dominc Walton: is found GUILTY of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in connection with attempts to dump the getaway car.
James Coward: is found GUILTY of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in connection with attempts to dump the getaway car.
John Thomasson’s daughter, in the public gallery, burst into tears when his guilty verdict was read out. The verdicts were greeted in silence from the defendants in the dock.
Carne Thomasson puffed out his cheeks when his guilty verdicts were read out.
The defendants were then led out of court.
Sentencing was adjourned until April 12.
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