Driver jailed for helping killers of takeaway boss Tipu Sultan

Tipu Sultan
Tipu Sultan

A driver has been put behind bars for helping the killers of a takeaway boss who was gunned down as he worked at his shop.

Jason Errington gave a lift to Michael McDougall and Michael Mullen so they could "lie low" after the murder of dad-of-two Tipu Sultan at his family-run Herbs & Spice takeaway, in South Shields in April 2015.

Mr Sultan, who lived in Sunderland, died after being blasted in the neck with a sawn-off shotgun by murderer McDougall.

The gunman had been taken to and from the scene by getaway driver Michael Mullen on the back of a motorbike, which was later found burnt out.

Newcastle Crown Court heard within six minutes of the murder, Errington, 44, had been contacted by the killers, asking for help.

He then travelled from his home in Jarrow, collected the killers from a house in Whitburn, where they were hiding the motorbike and gun, and drove them to a house two-and-a-half miles away, in Quarry Lane, South Shields.

Errington, formerly of Lulworth Avenue, Jarrow, pleaded guilty to two charges of assisting an offender with intent to impede their apprehension or prosecution, on the basis he did not realise the McDougall and Mullen had been involved in a killing and the men did not have the gun with them when he gave them a lift.

Prosecutor Graham O'Sullivan told the court Errington's involvement set back an already complicated investigation.

He said: "An officer involved said, which involves an element of speculation, that she suggested it could have added a month to the time it took to actually identify McDougall and Mullen as the people responsible."

Mr O'Sullivan said the killers were not taken a great distance away by Errington but he added: "They did not have to stay at the address with the bike, they could put distance between themselves and the bike."

Mr Justice Males jailed Errington, who the court heard has been a frequent visitor to McDougall in Durham Jail, for two years.

The judge said: "You pleaded guilty on the basis you believed McDougall and Mullen had committed a relevant offence together but you did not know which offence precisely and you did not know they had committed the offences they had in fact committed, that is murder and manslaughter.

"You drove them away from the area where they were at greater risk of being apprehended to a place where it would be easier for them to stay out of the way.

"There is an element of uncertainty here but what can be said is you made it more difficult for the police to identify and apprehend McDougall and Mullen as the people who had committed this offence."

The judge added: "Assisting in a murder case, even without knowledge that the offence in question is one of murder, is a matter which must, if not always then almost always, call for a sentence of immediate custody."

Barry Robson, defending, said Errington, who has health problems, is not heavily convicted and had been at home when he received the call for help.

Mr Robson said: "He was rang by Mullen, told McDougall was drunk and could he come and pick them up.

"He agreed to pick them up.

"He had no knowledge at all of what the offence was they committed but it was quite obvious in the time he spent with them that something had gone on."

At a previous hearing McDougall, 47, of Hylton Avenue, South Shields was jailed for 34 years after being found guilty of Mr Sultan's murder as well as two charges of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Mullen, 24, of Hawthorne Avenue, South Shields, was cleared of murder but was locked up for 12 years after found guilty of manslaughter.

Jason Errington

Jason Errington