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Shots fired at window of Sunderland house in ‘drugs turf war’, court hears

Forensics officers in Craigshaw Square, in Hylton Castle, after shots were fired at a house.
Forensics officers in Craigshaw Square, in Hylton Castle, after shots were fired at a house.

Six men have gone on trial accused of being involved in a drugs turf war in which shots were fired through a house window.

Stuart McDonald, Tony Trott, James Lee Ratclife, and Lee Barnett are alleged to have hatched a plan to use a revolver to shoot the front window of a house in Hylton Castle, Sunderland.

Police on scene after the shooting in Craigshaw Square, Hylton Castle.

Police on scene after the shooting in Craigshaw Square, Hylton Castle.

The early hours attack was in revenge for a burglary, a jury at Teesside Crown Court heard.

Anthony Sweeney denies earlier test firing the revolver allegedly used in the shooting on waste ground behind his house in Washington. Paul Kennedy denies being the driver of an Audi car when a gun was fired by a passenger.

Prosecutor Peter Makepeace QC said the chain of events which led to the shooting began with a burglary at a house in Hylton Road.

“In 2016, Stuart McDonald was ordinarily resident at with his partner and two children at Hylton Road, in Sunderland,” added Mr Makepeace.

“He was curfewed to a bail hostel, and on the night of September 11, 2016 he was being taken back to the hostel by his partner. At the same time, there was a serious burglary at his house, so serious that his 15-year-old son was held at knifepoint.

“That was an extraordinary event, but perhaps even more extraordinary was that neither Mr McDonald nor his partner called the police about it.

“Instead, Mr McDonald called Tony Trott, and they set about recruiting others for a retaliatory attack.”

Within a few hours several shots were fired through the front window of a house in Craigshaw Square, Hylton Castle, the jury was told.

“Again this was an extraordinary event,” said Mr Makepeace. “It happened in a densely populated area of Sunderland, not downtown Los Angeles.

“But as remarkable as the event itself is the fact that none of the occupants called the police.”

Mr Makepeace said both houses were ‘drugs houses’, and the shooting was carried out by members of a drugs gang who believed the second house was occupied by members of a rival gang.

“The Crown say that those responsible for that shooting were the four men who agreed to it taking place,” said Mr Makepeace.

“Stuart McDonald, whose home had been burgled, looked to Tony Trott to bring about revenge. Trott himself who headed the drugs operation, and had his property and reputation to protect.

“James Ratcliffe, who Trott recruited to do the shooting itself, and Lee Barnett, who accompanied Trott and Ratcliffe to the scene and helped with the logistics of the attack.”

Trott, 30, of Maritime Buildings, Sunderland, and Barnett, 32, of Throston Grange, Hartlepool, deny illegal possession of a firearm.

McDonald, 37, of Hylton Road, Sunderland, James Lee Ratcliffe, 34, of no fixed abode, Trott, and Barnett, deny conspiracy to possess a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life on September 12, 2016.

Anthony Sweeney, 31, of Spout Lane,Washington, denies possession of a prohibited weapon on September 10, 2016 as does Paul Kennedy, 21, of Seaham Street, Sunderland.

l The trial is expected to take six weeks.