A gangland hitman has been told he will die behind bars for the murders of a gangland “Mr Big” and a mob enforcer.
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, hit five times and died on his doorstep.
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 before standing over him to fire twice more into the back of his head from close range.
Fellows was convicted of both murders on Wednesday following an eight week trial at Liverpool Crown Court.
On Thursday he was sentenced to a whole-life term by Mr Justice William Davis.
Fellows’ co-accused and “brother in arms” Steven Boyle, 36, who acted as “spotter” in the Kinsella murder to ensure the planned victims were in place and to act as back-up, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 33 years before parole is considered.
Passing sentence, Mr Justice Davis said: “Whatever the background of Mr Kinsella and Mr Massey, the impact on their families of their murders have been devastating.
“This was execution, pure and simple.”
Both men were cleared of the attempted murder of Wendy Owen, who flew at the gunman before retreating as she came under fire.
Before he was led away, Fellows shouted from the dock: “I didn’t shoot at Wendy Owen. She’s lying.”
A member of Kinsella’s family, believed to be one of his sisters, screamed from the public gallery: “Rat! Rat!” before the judge asked her to leave court.
The judge described Fellows as a contract killer, a “gun for hire, prepared to kill whoever you were asked to kill”.
He added: “I have never had to deal with a contract killer of your kind before. There are few judges who have. Just punishment in your case requires you to be kept in prison for the rest of your life.”
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.
Their killers, said to be wholesale cocaine dealers and themselves heavy criminals with past convictions for armed robbery, ammunition possession and drugs offences, denied the charges.
Fellows made a cut-throat gesture and mouthed the word “Grass” to his boyhood friend and co-accused as he sat in the dock when Boyle sprang a surprise ambush defence.
Father-of-two Boyle, in the witness box, blamed his co-accused, claiming he had gone to Rainhill to pick up drug money from Fellows who instead handed over a gun – used moments earlier to murder Kinsella.
Fellows used a bicycle on both murder missions, to avoid ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras and the two communicated only through £3,000 specially encrypted EncroChat phones, which police have been unable to crack.
But detectives were able to piece together thousands of hours of CCTV evidence and other phone analysis to put both men close to the scene of both murders and during earlier reconnaissance trips on their prey.
Both defendants suggested it was all a matter of simple co-incidence they were nearby at the time of both murders.
A gang war had erupted in 2015 in Salford, with a series of attacks resulting in seven people being shot, including a seven-year-old boy and his mother on their doorstep, a hand grenade thrown at a house, an acid attack and a victim left with “horrific” injuries from a machete.
Fellows himself was shot in the hip two weeks after the murder of Massey.
He and Boyle were both with a splinter faction of the A Team headed by a man named Michael Carroll.
The A Team was headed by Stephen Britton, who regarded Paul Massey as a mentor.
The Greater Manchester Police (GMP) investigation into the Massey murder had stalled, until new evidence was uncovered by Merseyside Police during the Kinsella investigation, three years later.
Detectives had a “lightbulb moment” when they raided Fellows’ home, seizing his Garmin Forerunner watch.
A type worn by keen runners and cyclists such as Fellows, he had used it as a “dumb” stop-watch, police believe.
But the gadget also has a GPS function enabling routes run and cycled to be recorded.
When detectives plugged it into a computer it showed a few months before the murder of Paul Massey, the wearer of Fellows’ watch had travelled a route from his home to the area behind the church in which the killer lay in wait for his victim on July, 26, 2015.
The jury were told this key piece of evidence showed a “reconnaissance run” for the first of their well-planned gangland hits.