Two men who were involved in firing a sawn-off shotgun at the window of a Rugby house in what was believed to have been a conflict over drug-dealing have been remanded in custody.
Glenroy Blackstock and Damion Rea both denied a charge of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life during the incident at a house in Oxford Street, Rugby.
Following a trial at Warwick Crown Court the jury cleared them both of that allegation, but convicted them of an alternative charge of possessing it with intent to cause fear of violence.
Blackstock (31) of Newland Street, Rugby, but previously from Coventry, and Rea (24) of Grosvenor Road, Rugby, were both remanded in custody while reports are prepared on them.
Judge Peter Cooke said he wanted the reports to consider whether the two men pose a danger to the public after hearing how it was Rea who had fired the shotgun at the house, and that Blackstock had a previous conviction for manslaughter.
Prosecutor Andrew Wilkins had told the jury: “This is about the firing of a shotgun on the evening of the 29th of November 2017 at the window of a house in Oxford Street in Rugby.
“The tenant is not somebody from whom we are going to be hearing evidence. His neighbour believed him to be dealing in drugs, and you may think that that neighbour was entirely right.
“There were other people around at the house at the time, but they didn’t really want to help the police either.
“What we do know is that there were two shots. The police attended and took some photographs. There were pellets and wadding from one of the shots, some inside the address and some outside.
“It seems it was likely to be something to do with drugs, and Blackstock was to tell the police he was aware those inside had something to do with drugs.”
So did Blackstock, and although the jury was not told at the start of the trial, he had pleaded guilty to possessing heroin and crack cocaine two days after the shotgun incident with intent to supply them.
At the time Blackstock was wearing an electronic tag which monitored his movements throughout the day.
That showed he had gone to the Oxford Street address at about 5pm, and had then gone home where he spent about an hour before making a short phone call to Rea.
Blackstock then picked Rea up from his home, and they then went back to Oxford Street where the shots were fired at about 7.20 before they left at 7.24.
The tag then showed he had gone to a picnic site in Newton village where, although it was closed at that time of day, he spent two minutes and then went home, stopping on the way in St Andrews Crescent, where Rea was living at the time.
The police visited the picnic site the next day and found a sawn-off over-and-under double-barrel shotgun in bushes near the entrance, wrapped in bin bags – one of which had Rea’s fingerprint on it.
The shotgun, which had both the barrel and the stock shortened, had been broken down into its three sections.
“The prosecution say it’s a weapon that has no legitimate use. It has been made into a tool for crime, and the prosecution say not just for crime, but for hurting people.”
Blackstock was arrested two days later, still wearing the tag, with Rea being arrested at the end of January - and it was agreed that what they first told the police was ‘a pack of lies.’
Blackstock claimed he had been in Oxford Street and had heard the shots, but that it was just a coincidence he had then gone to the picnic area where the shotgun was found.
Rea denied having been at either place on that night, and suggested someone might have taken the bag with his fingerprint on it from his home.
During the trial Rea accepted it was he who fired the sawn-off shotgun, which Mr Wilkins said was likely to be lethal at a distance of 20 metres, but gave a different explanation of how it had occurred.
Mr Wilkins said the case put forward by the defendants was that they had gone to the house unarmed, meaning to threaten people there and to have some sort of encounter with them.
Both men told the jury that while they were there, one of the people at the house produced the sawn-off shotgun, which was dropped as Rea and Blackstock scuffled with him and another man.
Rea told the jury he had picked it up, and that as he and Blackstock made off from the house, he had turned and fired it to scare the occupants to prevent them giving chase.
“My intention when firing the gun was because I was scared and I didn’t want them chasing me,” he added.
But Mr Wilkins put to him: “The reality is that you and Mr Blackstock went there with this gun to cause havoc in the streets of Rugby. You used it to scare these people out of Rugby.”
The jury, who took a total of almost nine hours to reach their verdicts, had been told by Judge Cooke that they could only convict Blackstock if they were satisfied the two men had been armed with the shotgun when they went to the house.
After the guilty verdicts, the judge said: “It is not my intention to sentence these defendants straight away. Particularly Mr Blackstock has a very troubling history which includes a manslaughter conviction.”
That followed an incident in November 2011 when an attempt to rob father-of two Ali Jawaid as he made a delivery to a Coventry mobile phone shop went wrong, and he died after being set upon by Blackstock and another man who struck him over the head with a metal bar.
Blackstock was subsequently jailed for eight years after pleading guilty to robbery and manslaughter, and Rea also had convictions for offences which included violence.
Both men had pleaded guilty to possessing the shotgun while prohibited because of prison sentences they had served, and, remanding them in custody, Judge Cooke added: “I need to consider whether they fall to be sentenced under the dangerousness provisions.”