Gun thug gives middle finger to police as he’s sent down – Liverpool Echo


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A gun thug gave a middle finger salute to police as he was jailed for minding a loaded revolver for teen gangsters.

Nathan Kelly was a regular customer of 16-year-old gang leader Harry O'Brien - the baby-faced cannabis dealer behind three terrifying shootings and a firebombing in Dingle.

O'Brien was sentenced yesterday alongside other members of his crew, who brought terror to the streets of South Liverpool. Despite being more than a decade older, Nathan Kelly, then 27, was said to have a "close" relationship with O'Brien.

READ MORE: Boy, 16, led teen mob in three shootings and arson attack

For three days last April, he agreed to store his "graft" phone and answer it, plus look after a motorbike, helmets and a petrol can for the young gang boss and his "lieutenant", 16-year-old Michael McClean. But when police raided the flat Nathan Kelly shared with his girlfriend and child in Belle Vale on April 21, they also found a .22 rimfire revolver.

The weapon was loaded with eight bullets and hidden in an empty fish tank on his balcony. Stephen McNally, prosecuting, said the gun was "ready for immediate use".

Liverpool Crown Court heard when police arrived late that night, they searched communal gardens outside the flat in Lee Park Avenue. There, hidden under soil and gravel, was a black bin bag containing a New Army 1892 Colt .41 revolver.

As a police helicopter hovered overhead and lit up the area, Nathan Kelly made two "panicked" calls to O'Brien. Then, at 11.35pm officers stormed his address, where they found the loaded gun, plus 36 Remington .22 cartridges suitable for it and nine other bullets, in the fish tank.

Judge Neil Flewitt, QC, said Nathan Kelly's crutch was leaning against the fish tank with the gun inside. The judge said: "He still maintained he didn't know it was there."

Nathan Kelly, now 28, denied conspiracy to supply cannabis, two counts of possession of a prohibited firearm - relating to the two guns - and possession of ammunition. He was cleared in respect of the gun found in the garden, but convicted of the three other charges after a trial.

The court heard prosecutors had alleged Nathan Kelly was storing the loaded gun for O'Brien and McClean, but a charge against O'Brien in respect of that gun was dropped for "pragmatic" reasons, after he admitted other offences. McClean, now 18, of Upper Warwick Street, Toxteth, admitted possessing both guns and the ammunition, amongst other charges.

Teenage gangsters Harry O'Brien (left) and Michael McClean (right)

Teenage gangsters Harry O'Brien (left) and Michael McClean (right)

Nathan Kelly has previous convictions including robberies and burglaries. He admitted breaching a suspended sentence imposed last April for possession of a bladed article - a "lock knife". Judge Flewitt said he must have appreciated the loaded gun could be used in crime and fired, "with all the risks that carries".

Jason Smith, defending, provided a letter from Nathan Kelly's mum, sitting in the public gallery. Judge Flewitt said he "echoed" her hope that he could get help for mental health issues in prison. Mr Smith said his client's crime had a "traumatic" effect on his mum and their family.

The judge said the seriousness of the case was "we all know what these young lads were doing with these weapons". Mr Smith agreed and said that was "common sense".

Judge Flewitt said: "He should have pleaded [guilty] Mr Smith." The lawyer said his client had been aware of the minimum five-year prison sentence for having such a gun, as Nathan Kelly muttered in the dock.

The judge told Nathan Kelly he had been convicted on "overwhelming evidence". He said there was an element of "role reversal" and he may have been manipulated" to an extent by younger defendants. But he said: "You were a grown man and you should have resisted whatever pressure was being put upon you."

Nathan Kelly bounced up and down on his toes in the dock as he was jailed for seven years, before he gave the the middle finger with both hands to police officers sitting across the courtroom.

Addressing Mr Smith, Judge Flewitt said: "I'm not certain whether your client just made a very obscene gesture towards the police officers. I'm not going to have him back in - I'm sure they are big enough to take it on the chin."

Three other men connected to the case were also sentenced today.

One attack by O'Brien's gang saw bullets fired from a stolen Audi at a BMW. A stray bullet flew through the front door of an "entirely innocent" family's home in Dingle Lane and landed on their stairs, on December 29, 2020.

Shaun Kelly, 36, of Harefield Road, Speke

Shaun Kelly, 36, of Harefield Road, Speke

"Career criminal" Shaun Kelly, then 35 but now 36, of Harefield Road, Speke, had sold O'Brien the Audi A1. The car was taken in a burglary at a family's home in Whimbrel Close, Runcorn on November 30, 2020.

Shaun Kelly received the car on December 3 and flogged it to O'Brien and his gang at Sefton Park late on December 28.

When arrested and interviewed, Shaun Kelly said he "got the car for doing something for someone in jail" and used it for a month on false plates before selling it to a "kid" for £300. He admitted handling stolen goods.

Shaun Kelly also admitted unrelated matters of aggravated unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle, theft, five counts of fraud, two counts of burglary and breaching a suspended sentence for dangerous driving.

Shaun Kelly, who had previous convictions for robbery and multiple burglaries, was jailed for three and a half years. He was banned from the road for four years and nine months.

Blaine Woods, then 28, of David Street, Dingle, and Jak Atkinson, then 18, of Llanrwst Close, Dingle, both admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis.

Woods was a "regular customer" of O'Brien. On April 26 last year, O'Brien and McClean took a taxi to his home and gave him a plastic bag full of cannabis to store.

Police raided Woods' home on June 11 and found three blocks of cannabis, weighing two and a half kilos in total, with a street value of around £24,000.

On April 28, Atkinson was given a black Adidas rucksack to mind, containing street deals of cannabis. That same day officers searched his home and found it in a wardrobe. The cannabis wasn't weighed and no value was given in court.

Judge Flewitt handed both men 18-month community orders.

He said Woods, now 29, "should have known better", as he gave him 240 hours of unpaid work and a 20-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement.

Atkinson, now 19, was given 180 hours of unpaid work and a 15-day rehabilitation programme.

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