Scarcity can reveal the gunman who was convicted this week in a South Shields shooting is London drill rapper “TRAPMASH GID” aka Stefan Simpson.
He was filmed as he runs from a car parked in South Shields towards a terraced house and fires at the property before fleeing back to the car in 2021.
Nobody was hurt in the terrifying incident, which happened in broad daylight in a residential area but eight men have now been convicted over the offence, which was the climax of a UK-wide firearms conspiracy.
Judge Tim Gittins has told the conspirators they face “substantial prison sentences”.
Newcastle Crown Court was told Paul Momat and right-hand man Joseph Millward initiated the plot in a bid to “lay down a warning” to a rival.
They enlisted the help of London-based criminal Colin Crawley and associate James Townsend to be the architects of the daylight shooting, with Caspian Bhinder tasked with being the middle man.
Following weeks of planning by the co-conspirators, two men – shooter Stefan Simpson along with Ashlee McKenzie – travelled 300 miles from London to the North East to carry out the offence.
They executed their plan on the afternoon of September 16, 2021, on Heaton Gardens, with Simpson discharging a handgun at an address just moments after the victim had stepped outside of his front door.
The sophisticated plot saw Simpson and McKenzie given access to accommodation in Gateshead as well as use of a stolen car which was duly arranged by Tyran Baglin.
As part of a complex investigation, detectives pored through hundreds of hours of CCTV footage which showed the suspects’ movements, as well as thousands of calls and encrypted messages sent between the defendants.
Officers went on to identify the address on Rayleigh Grove in Gateshead where Simpson and McKenzie had stayed in the hours before the attack. Inside they found a set of car keys that had been concealed behind the television.
The keys opened a stolen VW car that had been discarded on a nearby street, which they had used during the offence. Upon searching the vehicle, officers also located the handgun that had been stashed inside the glove box.
In the weeks following the shooting, as a result of extensive enquiries, Northumbria Police supported by the Metropolitan Police carried out a series of dawn raids across South Tyneside and London with a number of suspects arrested.
Telephones, weapons and cash were also seized from various addresses, including £30,000 from Crawley’s home and £6,000 from an address associated to Momat.
Last year, four of the men – Millward, Crawley, Bhinder and Baglin – all admitted being part of a conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence when they appeared before the court.
The remaining four – Momat, Townsend, Simpson and McKenzie – all denied their involvement but were today found guilty by a jury following a 10-week trial.
A ninth man was cleared of any involvement by the jury.
Those found guilty are:
Paul Momat, 36, of Owen Drive, West Boldon, found guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
Joseph Millward, 29, of Davy Close, Hebburn, admitted conspiracy to possess firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
Colin Crawley, 46, of Woodall Court, Croydon, admitted conspiracy to possess firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
James Townsend, 45, of Hawksmoor Road, Oxford, was found guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
Caspian Bhinder, 33, of Babbington Road, Streatham, admitted conspiracy to possess firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
Stefan Simpson, 24, of St Matthew’s Road, London, was found guilty of conspiracy to possess firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
Ashlee McKenzie, 33, of Wandsworth Road, Lambeth, was found guilty of conspiracy to possess firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
Tyran Baglin, 24, of no fixed abode, admitted conspiracy to possess firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
All eight men have been remanded in custody and are due to be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court from March 16.
Detective Superintendent Jane Fairlamb, of Northumbria Police, led the investigation into the shooting and welcomed the convictions.
She said: “This was an appalling shooting that happened on a residential street.
“The incident on Heaton Gardens was the culmination of weeks of careful planning by the co-conspirators, with each defendant trusted to play their part in its execution.
“While nobody was ultimately hurt in this incident, it is clear that this type of behaviour is totally unacceptable and today’s outcome should send a strong message to everyone – we will not tolerate serious violence on our streets.
“I am pleased that eight co-conspirators have now been convicted at court, and this has only been possible thanks to some outstanding teamwork betweenNorthumbria Police, Metropolitan Police, Thames Valley Police, North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU) and our criminal justice partners.
“I would like to thank everyone who played their part in this case. While incidents involving firearms are rare in our Force, when they do occur, we are prepared to use every single tactic at our disposal to deliver effective justice against those involved.
“Under the banner of Operation Sentinel, we will continue to take swift and robust action against anybody involved in serious and violent crime.”