REIGN OF TERROR
Justice catches up with criminal gang
SCOTSWOOD hoodie Ricky Weatherson’s long crime career was brought to a halt as he was jailed for his role in a violent reign of robbery terror.
Weatherson and accomplices Michael Quinn and Kevin Shippen have been jailed for a total of almost 45 years, after they admitted their roles in a string of violent armed raids on businesses and cash vans across Tyneside.
And to help carry out their brazen crimes, the gang, from Newcastle’s West End, broke into family homes to steal keys to the cars that would become their getaway vehicles, Newcastle Crown Court heard.
During a three-month reign of terror between December last year and February this year, the gang were behind robberies and attempted robberies on cash transit vans in Newcastle and Wallsend .
And their crime spree came to a violent end when Quinn and Weatherson staged a terrifying raid on the cash transfer shop Ria Money, on Newcastle’s Westgate Road, during which shop owner Tariq Sheikh was attacked with a machete, in February.
The trio all admitted conspiracy to commit robbery, on the basis that not all of them were involved in all the crimes, and were today handed lengthy jail terms.
In sentencing Weatherson, 27, of Rushie Avenue, to an extended sentence of 15 years plus four years on licence, and Quinn, 37, of Colston Street, to 16 years with four years on licence, Judge Sarah Mallett branded them ‘dangerous.’
She said: “I’m satisfied that you both had leading roles in this conspiracy.”
Shippen, 41, of Whickham View, was handed a jail term of 13 years and three months.
Jayne Molloy, Amy Cooper and Katie Gales were also sentenced for handling stolen goods in connection with the robbery investigation, while Shaun Leach was jailed for handling stolen goods and a house burglary, committed with Weatherson that was linked to the conspiracy.
Judge Mallett told all the defendants: “The conspiracy to rob included a series of robberies using weapons and various motorbikes and cars were stolen from the street or their keys taken in burglaries. They are pre-planned commercial robberies.”
Alec Burns prosecuting explained how Weatherson, Quinn and Shippen were all involved, in some part, in a series of raids across Tyneside.
And a number of burglaries and car thefts were linked to the robberies by detectives.
He explained: “Weatherson, Quinn and Shippen were involved in a series of robberies using weapons and various stolen vehicles. The thefts are part of the conspiracy.
“They are stolen to be used in these robberies.”
The robberies include the attempted robbery of a cash carrying security guard outside the Asda supermarket in Benwell during which the victim was sprayed with a noxious substance .
The next attack came on January 11 when another security worker was ambushed outside the High Main pub on Shields Road in Byker.
The victim was targeted by two men and hit with a hammer causing him to drop his cash box containing more than £11,000.
Then on February 12 Shippen and Quinn were carried out another cash in transit robbery at Heron Foods, on Churchill Road in Howdon, Wallsend.
Mr Burns explained how the security guard was ambushed by two men as he left the shop with his cash box.
He said: “He saw two males, both with hammers. He was hit on the head by one of them with a hammer, which caused him to drop the box.”
However the cash box was empty, the court was told.
The fourth raid took place on February 19, once again outside Asda in Benwell where a security guard was carrying a cash box, however the quick-thinking security guard managed to get into the safety of his van after noticing two men approaching him.
Then on February 19 the final and most frightening crime in the series of offences came when Quinn and Weatherson entered Ria Money, armed with a machete and a knife, and demanded money.
Mr Burns said: “Weatherson was holding a knife and Quinn a machete. It’s blade is about two foot in length. Quinn said: ‘Give me the money.’”
Mr Sheikh handed over money from the till, but the pair then asked for money from a second till, said Mr Burns.
And when Mr Sheikh said he recognised Quinn the violent robber lashed out with his weapon, and hit him on the shoulder.
“His response was to hit him with the machete,” said Mr Burns. “Weatherson struck out with his knife. He put his hand up.”
The pair then made off with the money, but were arrested soon after.
Cooper, 29, of Broomridge Avenue, admitted handling stolen goods by allowing Weatherson to store items connected to the crimes at her home.
When she went on holiday in February she left Gales, 27, of Coventry Gardens, in charge of her home and stolen items continued to be kept there. Both admitted handling stolen goods
Leach, 33, and his partner Malloy, 29, both of Canning Street, also allowed stolen items to be stored at their home, and admitted handling stolen goods.
And Leach and Weatherson also pleaded guilty to a burglary at a home on Normont Road in Benwell.
Leach was jailed for a total of three and a half years for the offences.
While Cooper and Gales, were each handed two-year community orders.
After hearing how Malloy is a fulltime mum to three young children, the eldest with Downs Syndrome, Judge Mallet agreed to suspend her 12-month prison sentence for two years.
Weatherson’s crime career began at the age of 13 when he was the youngest member of the gang of yobs that became known as the Scotswood hoodies.