Three ‘stupid’ thugs who plotted to burgle a family home have been jailed for a total of more than 35 years after a father-of-two was blasted in the stomach with a sawn-off shotgun.
Dominic Burke, 21, who played a ‘leading role’ in the conspiracy and fired the gun at close range, was jailed for 15 years.
Burke’s brother Anthony Ward, 29, who armed himself with a machete during the raid, was jailed for nine-and-a-half years.
And mastermind Steven O’Donnell, 25, who was said to be the ‘leading light’ behind the conspiracy, got 11 years.
The sentencing hearing at Bolton Crown Court on Tuesday was told a plot was concocted to ‘burgle a cannabis grow’, but there was no farm in the house.
Peter Glenser QC, representing Burke, said: ‚ÄúThis was an appalling set of circumstances created by their own stupidity.‚ÄĚ
Judge Timothy Clayson said victim John Louden, 51, could easily have been killed and although recovering, pellets from the shotgun remained lodged in his body, including some near his heart.
He was confronted by two masked men ‚Äď Burke and Ward ‚Äď just outside his bedroom door as he was about to leave his home on Glebelands Road to collect his two daughters from Girl Guides in November last year.
O’Donnell had driven them to the scene and the brothers, together with a third man, smashed their way inside through patio doors.
Judge Clayson said Mr Louden reacted by shouting loudly and moving towards Ward at the top of the stairs. The shot was then fired by Burke, who was stood behind his brother.
All three then fled ‚Äď stealing nothing from the house.
Opening the case to a jury prosecutor Michael Brady said the force of the shot ‘propelled’ Mr Louden back into his bedroom, where he managed to lock the door and dial 999.
In police interviews he said later it was his ‘instinctive reaction’ to ‘go on the attack’ and graphically told detectives how he tended to his injuries by ‘just pushing everything back in’.
Only O’Donnell knew the victim, the jury was told. His sisters went to the same school as Mr Louden’s daughters.
But Mr Brady said: ‚ÄúNotwithstanding the enquiries made by the police no motive, obvious or otherwise, for the conspiracy to murder has been unearthed.‚ÄĚ
Judge Clayson said there had been previous aborted attempts to raid the house and ‘reconnaissance’ carried out by the gang.
Mr Louden, he said, had been invited to compile a victim impact statement to be read out at the sentencing hearing, but attempts to contact him in advance failed. Mr Brady said he ‘did not wish to get involved’.
O‚ÄôDonnell, of Carr Avenue, Prestwich, Ward, of Braithwaite Road, Middleton, and Burke, of Whinfell Drive, Middleton, were all found not guilty of conspiracy to commit murder after a six-week trial.
Burke and Ward pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary and Ward was found guilty of the charge after the trial.
Burke also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm and section 18 assault.
Judge Clayson branded them ‘dangerous offenders’ and their jail sentences all include extended licence periods.
A police investigation, code-named Operation Bermuda, was launched and following CCTV enquiries, police found the three men went to the house at about 7.30pm on the evening. Burke was seen to load the gun.
But they left ‚Äď to get a spark plug to smash the patio door windows ‚Äď only to return an hour later.
Judge Clayson commended the detectives from Bury who worked on the case.
Det Con Simon Jones said outside court: “An innocent father was at home waiting to leave to collect his children when he was faced with the terrifying image of a gun-wielding intruder.
“Despite being shot and in unimaginable pain, he somehow managed to lock himself away and alert emergency services. From the moment this awful attack took place, through to sentencing today, he has shown immense courage and bravery.
‚ÄúAt the time, this incident understandably sent shockwaves through the community and it was our job to make sure we found the men responsible, and as soon as possible. These men have now been held to account for their reckless actions and I hope this provides some relief to the victim and his family.‚ÄĚ
Matthew Moss, 28, of Rydal Avenue Chadderton, was found not guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.
Waseem Ahmed, 29, of Greenstead Avenue, Manchester, was acquitted of conspiracy to commit murder. Both denied all the charges they faced.