Jus­tice catches up with crim­i­nal gang

The Chronicle - - Front Page - By SO­PHIE DOUGHTY Crime Re­porter so­phie.doughty@trin­i­tymir­ @So­phie_Doughty

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.

Ricky Weather­son

Kevin Ship­pen

Michael Quinn

Katie Gales

Shaun Leach

Jayne Mol­loy

Amy Cooper

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