Gangland gunman loses appeal against Sunderland shooting conviction
A gunman jailed after firing shots at a house as part of a gangland feud has lost an appeal against his trial verdict.
James Lee Ratcliff was locked up for 24 years in November 2018 after he was convicted of firing six bullets through the window of a house in Craigshaw Square, Hylton Castle, Sunderland, in September 2016.
Ratcliff, who was 35 at the time of his sentence, was found guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life, conspiracy to supply cocaine and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Earlier this week he launched a legal bid to overturn at least one of his three convictions.
A full explanation for the decision has still to be released.
Ratcliff, of no fixed address, was one of four men jailed for a total of nearly 69 years as part of what Judge Deborarh Sherwin labelled “a revenge attack by one group of organised criminals against another”.
Described at Newcastle Crown Court as a “self-styled underworld enforcer”, Ratcliff was described by ring leader Tony Trott to carry out the shooting after the burglary of a house in Hylton Road, Sunderland, which was used by Trott to store drugs.
Peter Makepeace, prosecuting, said it was “extraordinary good fortune” that three men in the room escaped injury.
Trott, then 30, of South Terrace, Southwick, Sunderland, was also due to appeal against his sentence and at least one of his convictions on Thursday.
But the Court of Appeal earlier this week confirmed that he had abandoned both appeals.
Lee Barnett, 42, of Throston Grange, Hartlepool, who joined the pair at the attack, was jailed for 16 years after he was convicted of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life.
Philip Steabler, 41, of Thorndale Road, Thorney Close, Sunderland, described as a petty criminal who helped with the shooting’s logistics, was locked up for 35 months for assisting an offender and being concerned in the supply of cocaine.