Two men have been found guilty of the murder of mob enforcer John Kinsella, in a case that has shone light on the murky world of Manchester’s organised crime.
Mark Fellows and Steven Boyle were found guilty of the murder of Kinsella, who was killed in 2018.
Fellows was also convicted over the murder of gangland boss “Mr Big” Paul Massey, who died three years earlier.
Boyle was cleared of the killing of Massey. Both men were found not guilty of the attempted murder of Kinsella’s partner, Wendy 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 tears as the men were convicted, and some left court in tears before it was adjourned.
Fellows and Boyle committed the murders during a deadly feud involving rival crime gangs in Salford. The feud escalated after father-of-five and grandfather Massey was killed outside his home by a spray of bullets from an Uzi sub-machine gun 2015.
Two years later police were still appealing for information and it wasn’t until 2018 that police got a break when another member of Manchester’s underworld, Kinsella, was gunned down while walking his dogs with his pregnant wife.
Massey, 55, was a well-known figure in his home city of Salford and had been involved with security firms operating in Manchester and beyond.
Massey was first dubbed “Mr Big” by the late Salford councillor Joe Burrows at a town hall meeting to discuss civil disturbances in 1992, and he was jailed seven years later for stabbing a man in the groin.
Despite his links to the violent underworld, he was praised for his strong community spirit – he had pledged to “really make a difference to the good people of Salford” when he ran for the position of mayor in 2012, but he failed to be elected.
Massey and Kinsella were associated with a gang headed by Stephen Britton that called itself “the A Team”, with Massey being regarded as a mentor by by the group’s boss.
Kinsella was described as a “gangland enforcer” and already had a criminal past.
During the trial it was heard he had “helped” Liverpool and England footballer, Steven Gerrard with “trouble” – he reportedly convinced a thug nicknamed “The Psycho” not to “maim” him.
After being convicted in 2008 of robbing a warehouse of £41,000 of Easter eggs and Pringles, he absconded and appealed his sentence, and won.
During the trial, prosecutor Paul Greaney QC described the gang links of both the murdered men, saying: “They were friends and associates.
“Moreover, each was well known, if not notorious, within the gangland of the north-west, and both men undoubtedly had enemies.
“Their undoing has to do with events in the city of Salford, where serious violence broke out between two criminal gangs in 2015.”
At around 7.30pm on July 26, 2015, Massey parked his BMW outside his home in Clifton, Salford, and walked up the driveway. A gunman was lying in wait, killing him with a hail of bullets fired from an Uzi sub-machine gun before fleeing. Massey died at the scene.
Almost three years later and with the £50,000 reward still unclaimed, John Kinsella set out on his usual morning walk with his partner, Owen, and their dogs from their home in Rainhill, St Helens.
Speaking from behind a curtain to protect her identity, Owen later testified in court that a “stone faced” cyclist “staring straight ahead” blasted Kinsella twice in the back with a handgun.
He fell face down as Owen “charged” at him but the gunman then turned the weapon on her, shooting. He missed and she fled.
The cyclist then calmly rode over to where Kinsella lay dying and shot him twice in the back of the head.
Owen managed to flag down a van driver, Kevin Plunkett, who called 999, a recording of which was played to the jury during the trial.
Plunkett could be heard saying Kinsella did not seem to be breathing and had blood coming from his head, as Owen sobbed in the background.
She was pregnant at the time of the murder and gave birth just before the trial began.
According to the prosecution, it was the “clear parallels” between the murders of both men that led to the arrests of Mark Fellows and Steven Boyle – in addition to a GPS-enabled fitness device.
Police investigating the Kinsella murder seized a Garmin Forerunner watch belonging to Fellows.
This type of watch, worn by keen runners and cyclists, has a GPS function enabling routes to be recorded, along with other information such as pace and distance.
Analysis by detectives showed a few months before the murder of Massey, the wearer of the watch had travelled from his home to the area behind a church in which the killer lay in wait for his victim on July 26 2015.
It showed, police say, Fellows on a “reconnaissance run” for the planned gangland hit, almost three years after the first murder.
Greaney told the jury a painstaking review of CCTV systems was critical in the investigation and was to “unlock the case” as it showed Boyle and Fellows in the area at the time of the murder.
Boyle and Fellows had made the same journey six days earlier, on April 29, only for Boyle to arrive too late to perform his role of spotter and the planned “assassination” was aborted on that occasion.
The jury heard CCTV evidence showed the gunman had cycled from the area of Fellows’s home in Warrington and further evidence suggested Boyle had acted as a “spotter” who positioned his Renault Clio so he could see Kinsella and Owen approaching.
He added said: “Unlike three years earlier, on this occasion, the killer was undone.”