Gunman jailed for 21 YEARS for attempted murder of former friend following rows over 'women and money'

A gunman who blasted a rival in the chest in a bid to kill him after a fall out over "women and money" has been jailed for 21 years.

Friday, 15th May 2020, 9:42 pm

John Dees caused life threatening injuries to Darren March in an attempted execution in a public street last October after sending messages warning he would "put him in the ground" and "you are getting killed on the spot".

One chilling warning issued by Dees read: "One day I will be there and it'll be pop pop".

Newcastle Crown Court heard Dees, who was in his car, had lured Mr March, who was on foot, to "come closer" and then fired at him with a sawn-off shotgun through the open window.

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Photographs of the shotgun and cartridges taken by Northumbria Police during the inquiries.

The armed 33-year-old then left the scene of the shooting, in Washington, hid his weapon at the home of an associate, changed the colour of his car by removing vinyl and shaved his head and beard in a bid to evade justice, but was arrested the next day.

Mr March, 28, suffered a large wound to his chest, filled with debris and pellets, which caused his lung to collapse and pellets to become embedded in his internal organs, where some still remain.

His chest wall and associated muscles were devastated in the impact.

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Mr March, a former mixed martial arts fighter and gym goer, said he has been left "in pain all the time" and his chest is "permanently deformed".

He said he feels like a "shadow of the man I used to be" and added: "I have flashbacks, I close my eyes and I see the barrel of the shotgun, a flash, hear a bang and explosion.

"I still can't believe he shot me. At first I thought it was an air weapon and joked for him to shoot me. At no point did I ever think he had a shotgun."

Mr March said he remembered being wheeled on a trolley in hospital and seeing the lights above his head and said: "I thought I was dead.

John Dees admitted attempted murder, possessing a shotgun with intent to endanger life and criminal damage at Newcastle Crown Court. Photo: Northumbria Police

"I have been told I am lucky to be alive. I don't feel lucky."

Dees, 33, of no fixed address, who has a previous conviction for possessing a firearm without a certificate, pleaded guilty to attempted murder and possessing a firearm, namely a shotgun, with intent to endanger life.

He also admitted a charge of damaging property in relation to a Northumbria Police cell, where he smeared excrement around after his arrest.

Judge Paul Sloan QC told Dees: "You had been telling the injured party to come closer to your vehicle and by this stage you had undoubtedly formed an intention to kill him.

"Once he was next to the passenger side of the car, you produced a shotgun and, at very close range, you shot him in the chest."

The judge added: "This occurred in broad daylight, in a public street, witnessed by members of the public who were passers by at the time."

Prosecutor Nick Dry told the court the two men had been pals but their friendship descended into taunts and threats being issued on both sides.

Mr Dry said: "They were former friends however their relationship turned sour in the spring last year with arguments over women and money appearing to be behind the disagreement."

The court heard heard during a series of messages, Dees accused Mr March of "sleeping with his girlfriend as his father was dying" and threatening his child.

The text exchanges grew increasingly threatening, with the men calling each other "paedo" and "nonce" and promising violence.

On the day of the attempted murder, both men had been out in vehicles and Mr March had warned he would "smash" Dees before the shooting.

Gavin Doig, defending, said Dees, who has taken alcohol and amphetamine on the day of the attack, is "thoroughly ashamed" and added: "He is extremely regretful for the damage he has caused not only to himself and his own family but to Mr March."

Mr Doig said Dees, who has never been to custody before, had believed he was about to be the victim of an acid attack when Mr March threw a bottle towards him, which actually contained water.

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