Man jailed for firearm and drug offences after arranging shooting in Warrington
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A man who arranged the shooting of an innocent man on his own doorstep in Warrington has been sentenced.
Lewis Fitzpatrick drove to Poplars Avenue on the evening of Friday 24 April 2020 and waited in a van while Aaron Bretherton fired three rounds at a 56-year-old man causing life-changing injuries to the victim’s leg.
Bretherton, aged 25, then ran back to the van and Anthony Morris, aged 24, drove him and Fitzpatrick away from the scene.
In the hours leading up to the attack Fitzpatrick was seen travelling with Bretherton to Warrington in order to carry out a reconnaissance mission.
Then shortly after 7pm Morris travelled from his workplace in Connah’s Quay, North Wales, to pick up Fitzpatrick and Bretherton in Liverpool and transport them to the crime scene.
Bretherton deliberately left his own mobile at home and used a phone belonging to Morris to communicate with Fitzpatrick as the trio made the journey in the van.
When they reached their destination, Fitzpatrick is believed to have handed Bretherton the gun and he was captured on CCTV making his way to the house and carrying out the attack.
The trio were alleged to have been acting on behalf of a man who is suspected of plotting with others to shoot individuals he had grievances with.
On Friday 12 March Fitzpatrick was found guilty of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm to the intended target, the victim’s 26-year-old stepson who was not at the address at the time of the attack, following a three-week trial at Liverpool Crown Court.
He was also found guilty of conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to endanger life, conspiracy to supply a controlled drug of cannabis, conspiracy to supply a class B drug (cannabis) and possession of a prohibited firearm.
Fitzpatrick, previously of Eldersfield Road in Liverpool, was sentenced to 26 years at Liverpool Crown Court on Monday 11 April 2022. The 26-year-old was also sentenced for conspiracy to supply firearms and ammunition and conspiracy to supply ketamine and cannabis.
These charges were authorised after an encrypted mobile telephone was seized from Fitzpatrick’s home following his arrest on Wednesday 6 May 2020.
Detectives uncovered messages from the mobile phone known as an EncroChat device which discussed the supply of firearms and ammunition as well as class B drugs.
Less than two weeks after Morris was arrested Fitzpatrick and Bretherton conspired to gain possession of a Glock pistol from a shed which was later located in the extractor fan of Bretherton's apartment.
It formed part of the Europe-wide investigation codenamed Operation Venetic – the dismantling of a global encrypted device service.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Murray, from the Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: “Fitzpatrick’s role in the conspiracy was to arrange the shooting. He acted as the middle man between those who were directly involved in committing the attack on the night and the person who is believed to have orchestrated it.
“We suspect Fitzpatrick was in connect with the orchestrator throughout the journey to Poplars Avenue.
“The shooting shocked the local community and left a man to undergo several operations meaning he will never be able to walk the same again.
“Fitzpatrick is heavily associated with and involved in serious and organised crime from organising the shooting to the supply of firearms and ammunitions as well as class B drugs for illegal profit.
“We know criminals travel into Cheshire for their involvement in serious and organised crime. Our message is that regardless of where you are from we will continue to pursue you until you fear travelling into a county where being caught will be the only outcome.”