Wigan car wash shooting linked to gangland murders

The terrifying shooting at a Wigan car wash was part of a savage gang war which ultimately ended with a double killing.

Gangland hitman Mark Fellows is facing life behind bars after being convicted of the double murder of Paul Massey and John Kinsella.

The scene at the car wash off Bolton Road, in Ashton, following the shooting

The scene at the car wash off Bolton Road, in Ashton, following the shooting

Fearsome gangland reputations could save neither "Mr Big" Massey or his friend, gangland enforcer Kinsella, from the extreme savagery of a Salford gang war.

A split within the dominant self-styled A Team gang, led by Stephen Britton - who Massey acted as a mentor for, began in the summer of 2014.

A separate faction, led by Michael Carroll, included Kinsella's killers Mark Fellows and Steven Boyle, both life-long serious criminals.

Both sides were said to be involved in drugs, robbery and extortion.

Boyle grew up with Fellows and Britton on the streets of Ordsall in inner-city Salford. He was arrested in a stolen car aged 15 with Michael Carroll and went to school with Massey's daughters.

The spark to the war involved a drink being thrown in a club, according to police, where a woman was punched or "banged out" - a serious mark of disrespect for some in gangland.

In January 2015, the month Boyle was released from jail after serving seven years for cocaine dealing, the A Team came under attack from their upstart rivals.

The first incident saw a Stihl saw used to cut the roof off a woman's car, and a month later a masked man used a shotgun to open fire on a car, injuring three men.

On March 21, 2015, two men were leaving a party in Salford when they were attacked by another group of masked men, one suffering "horrific" injuries from a machete.

And nine days later, the home of a member of the A Team was attacked with a hand grenade thrown at the living room window, the projectile exploding outside the house.

Just 17 hours later, the A Team hit back. A man named Jamie Rothwell who was associated with the splinter group - Carroll is godfather to his daughter - was shot three times at a car wash in Ashton.

That same month, Fellows was warned informally his life was in danger from the A Team and on June 2, he was given a formal "threat to life" warning by police.

A month later, Fellows acted. Armed with an Uzi semi-automatic machine gun, he blasted Massey to death on his doorstep on July 26.

Three weeks later, Fellows himself was injured outside his home in Weaste, Salford, after being shot and hit in the hip, but survived.

He joked to one police officer, he "could have been like Paul".

Massey's funeral on August 28 brought around 2,000 mourners on to the streets of Salford.

Kinsella acted as a pall bearer and launched the brutal graveside attack on Stephen Lydiate, the brother of Paul Massey's partner, Louise Lydiate and another significant Salford gangster.

He had acid thrown on him and was battered with put-poles, the wooden beams the coffin is placed on before it is lowered into the ground.

Lydiate was arrested and interviewed by police as a "person of interest" in connection with the murder of Massey. He refused to co-operate.

He has now been recalled to jail as he was out on licence from prison for arranging the kidnap and torture of several men he believed had shot him in a Salford pub.

Lydiate has never been charged with any offence relating to Massey's murder.

Two months after Massey's funeral, in October 2015, seven-year-old Christian Hickey, and his mother Jayne, were caught in the crossfire of the gang war, both shot on the doorstep of their home in Winton, Salford.

Graffiti in the city then began to appear on walls calling Carroll a "rat" hiding in Spain, and saying he should come back to Salford to fight the "war".

Britton and two others were arrested in an apartment in Marbella in February 2016.

A loaded gun and ammunition were recovered.

Britton is still believed to be on bail from the Spanish authorities. Carroll's whereabouts are unknown.

Neither have been charged with any offence in connection with Salford gang wars.

Both defendants smiled as the jury foreman returned guilty verdicts, following 31 hours and three minutes of deliberations.

Relatives of the victims sat in the public gallery, holding hands and wiping away silent tears, as both men were convicted.

Fellows smiled and nodded as he was found guilty of both murders.

His co-accused Boyle dropped his head and also gave a wry smile as he was found guilty on one count of murder and cleared of the second.

Some relatives of the victims left the court in tears before court was adjourned.

Outside, police in combat gear carrying Heckler and Koch machine guns patrolled the corridors for the duration of the trial; both defendants had in a past hearing tried to burst out of a court building.

Paul Greaney QC, prosecuting, said a whole life term for Fellows, meaning he will never be released, is required given the double murder, involving firearms and the substantial degree of planning.

Nick Johnson QC, defending Fellows, asked for "mercy" saying the defendant is a father-of-two, who is facing dying behind bars.

The court heard the "starting point" for Boyle's sentence should be a minimum of 30 years in jail before parole.

Mr Justice William Davis said he would sentence both men this morning, Thursday, at 9.30pm.