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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 November 2007, 12:43 GMT
'We'll never forget that terrible day'
By Chris Summers
BBC News

Michael Hanley's mother still vividly remembers the phone call on 27 December 2005 which changed her life forever.

VICTIM OF GUN CRIME
Michael Hanley
Name: Michael Hanley
Date: 27 Dec 2005
Age: 23
Place: Dewsbury, West Yorkshire

Michael had been shot dead at a nightclub in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, and his elder brother Thomas had the unenviable job of breaking the news to his mother, who was on a Christmas break in Somerset with her husband.

"I still have nightmares about that phone call," said Maureen Miller.

"The sales were on and I was in a shop when my mobile rang. My son was on the other end, crying. He told me to sit down, but I was in a shop.

"When he told me Michael had been killed, I was in shock. I don't know how long I was in shock but eventually I went back to the hotel where we were staying and then we just drove straight back home," she recalls.

Innocent victim

The 23-year-old, a driver from Harehills in Leeds, died after being shot once in the stomach at Sheridan's Bar in Dewsbury.

He was an entirely innocent victim of a gang of thugs that had been causing havoc in that corner of West Yorkshire for many months.

His mother said: "He had never been to that bar before but he decided to go because he heard they were playing a type of dance music that he liked."

Maureen Miller (centre) at Don't Trigger launch
Maureen says Michael was "in the wrong place at the wrong time"

The bar was very busy. There were about 200 people in the club, some from as far afield as Bradford, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham.

Michael was accompanied by his friend Vinod France, but the pair soon ran into trouble when a much larger group from Huddersfield began picking on them.

According to witnesses, the Huddersfield party began threatening Michael and were apparently intent on stealing a gold chain he was wearing.

His brother Thomas said: "Michael and Vinod were having a dance and a drink and just having a good time, and this lot were doing hand signals in their direction as if to say: 'We're going to shoot you.'"

Michael and his friend decided to leave the club, but they were followed outside and attacked.

One of the gang, Darren Foley, then pulled out a gun and shot Michael. The bullet hit a main artery in his stomach and he died within two minutes.

As Michael lay dying, members of the gang stole his watch and mobile phone.

One took a photograph on a mobile phone of Michael's bloodied body.

'Pack of hyenas'

His friend Vinod fled for his life.

He jumped into a car belonging to a complete stranger but Foley, who had run out of ammunition, smashed the car's windscreen with the butt of the gun and dragged out the driver, who was robbed.

Vinod, convinced he was going to be killed, climbed into the driver's seat and sped away from the gang, who he said were circling like a "pack of hyenas".

As he drove off, he collided with the car of one of the gang, Shane Thomas, and the number plate fell off. This would later prove to be a crucial piece of evidence.

Darren Foley and Shane Thomas
Foley (left) pulled the trigger but Shane Thomas was the ringleader

Police eventually caught up with the gang and earlier this year Foley, Thomas and several others went on trial at Leeds Crown Court.

In the run-up to the trial, several witnesses were intimidated by the gang, who were notorious in the Huddersfield area.

During the trial, Mrs Miller said her family were forced to face the killers' families in the public gallery, and she said they were frequently threatened and verbally abused.

Foley and ringleader Thomas - nicknamed "Mac 10" after a type of gun - were jailed for life. Foley must serve 18 years and Thomas 25 years.

Two people were also jailed for intimidating witnesses from the club who gave evidence.

'A disgrace'

Mrs Miller said: "Michael was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. If he had not gone to that club, someone else would have been shot by them.

"They were in trouble all the time, they dealt drugs and one of them had been shot before."

Her son Thomas said: "These people were just scum. They don't care about human life.

Michael and Thomas Hanley
Thomas Hanley (right) struggled to overcome the death of his brother

"At the trial, their mothers were a disgrace. One had the cheek to tell my mother: 'At least my son is coming home.'"

The ripples created by Michael's death have spread out far and wide, to family and friends in Liverpool, America and the Caribbean.

"Ten days after we buried Michael, his girlfriend Jodi gave birth to his son Kidon. He will never know his father but we will tell him about him when he gets older," said Mrs Miller.

Thomas said he had broken up with his girlfriend, the mother of his two children, in the wake of his brother's death, and he had also struggled at work.

He said: "This lot who killed Michael thought it was funny. They were laughing and joking even during the trial. But it's not fun for them now is it? They are rotting in jail.

"Michael was killed with a gun which had been deactivated and then reactivated. Apparently there are loads of them in Huddersfield. All of a sudden, you heard about loads of shootings there and it's only a small town."

At the end of the trial, Judge Peter Fox QC wrote to the Home Office asking for action to ensure deactivated guns were destroyed.



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