A gangland hitman is facing life behind bars after being convicted of the double murder of a mob enforcer and an underworld Mr Big.
Mark Fellows, 38, nicknamed The Iceman, murdered Salford mobster Paul Massey with an Uzi machine gun outside his home in the city in July 2015.
Father-of-five Massey, 55, a notorious “Mr Big” crime figure in Salford and beyond, was blasted at 18 times as he raised his hands in defence and dived for cover behind bins, a jury heard during a seven week trial at Liverpool Crown Court.
After being shot five times, he died within minutes.
Three years later, Massey’s friend and gang associate, John Kinsella, 53, a martial arts expert and mob enforcer from Liverpool, was murdered by Fellows in a second “cold-blooded” execution.
Kinsella, whose help footballer Steven Gerrard called on to scare off a Liverpool gangster known as The Psycho who had been “terrorising” him, was walking his dogs with his pregnant partner, Wendy Owen, near their home in Rainhill, Merseyside, on May 5 last year.
Fellows cycled up, shooting his victim twice in the back with a Webley six-shot revolver.
As Kinsella lay dying, the killer stood over him to fire twice more into the back of his head from close range.
On both occasions his co-accused and “brother in arms” Steven Boyle, 36, had allegedly acted as spotter to ensure the planned victims were in place and to act as back-up, waiting nearby, if needed, which he denied.
Both victims, “notorious” heavy criminals in gangland Manchester and Merseyside, were murdered as a result of a deadly feud between rival gangs in Salford – the A-Team, linked to the victims and a splinter faction the defendants were with.
Fellows was convicted of both murders but found not guilty of the attempted murder of Miss Owen.
Boyle was found guilty of the murder of Kinsella, but cleared of the murder of Massey and the attempted murder of Miss Owen.
Both defendants smiled as the jury foreman returned guilty verdicts, following 31 hours and three minutes of deliberations.
Relatives of the victims sat in the public gallery, holding hands and wiping away silent tears, as both men were convicted.
Fellows smiled and nodded as he was found guilty of both murders.
His co-accused Boyle dropped his head and also gave a wry smile as he was found guilty on one count of murder and cleared of the second.
Some relatives of the victims left the court in tears before court was adjourned.
Outside, police in combat gear carrying Heckler and Koch machine guns patrolled the corridors for the duration of the trial; both defendants had in a past hearing tried to burst out of a court building.
Paul Greaney QC, prosecuting, said a whole life term for Fellows, meaning he will never be released, is required given the double murder, involving firearms and the substantial degree of planning.
Nick Johnson QC, defending Fellows, asked for “mercy” saying the defendant is a father-of-two, who is facing dying behind bars.
The court heard the “starting point” for Boyle’s sentence should be a minimum of 30 years in jail before parole.
Mr Justice William Davis said he would sentence both men tomorrow morning at 9.30pm.
Members of Massey’s family claimed Fellows and Boyle exchanged words as they were led from the dock to the cells; Fellows was heard to say to his co-defendant: “It’s your f****** fault you f****** grass.”
Outside court, members of the Massey and Kinsella families shook hands and shared hugs with police detectives who had worked on the case.
Mark Baker, Detective Chief Inspector of Merseyside Police, said: “The murder of both John Kinsella and Paul Massey were pre-meditated and brutal. No human being, no matter what their past should lose their lives in such violent circumstances.
“These verdicts send a clear message to those involved in serious and organised crime across the North West.”
Detective Constable John Kerr, family liaison officer for the Kinsella family, read a statement from them, describing how the victim was an only brother to eight sisters who acted as the “backbone” of the family as a “provider, protector, confidante and often a peace-maker”.
The statement added: “He was a devoted father and grandfather and delighted to learn in the weeks before his death he was to become a father once again.
“We are all truly devastated at the way his life was taken in such a callously, cowardly, cruel manner by the cowardly actions of Mark Fellows and Steven Boyle.
“Perhaps the person who has lost the most is John’s newborn baby who will grow up without a father and John will never get to hold and love her.”
Detective Chief Inspector Carl Jones, of Greater Manchester Police, who investigated the Massey murder, added: “I think it will have a huge impact on organised crime. This investigation is only one strand of a larger, Operation Leopard investigation, I cannot go into that, but I can tell you that this will have a major impact.
“We have got trials that are pending.”
Asked about Fellows’s reaction to the verdicts in court, Mr Jones added: “He is an absolute, callous killer, to plan how he planned to murder Paul Massey, go into huge detail, visiting the scene. He’s planned it to the nth degree and moved that on to the murder of John Kinsella.
“There are no words for him, he’s just so callous.”