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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 March 2007, 17:48 GMT
Two guilty of pub execution plot
Constance Howarth and Ian McLeod
The pair were convicted by a jury at Preston Crown court
Two people have been convicted of organising a gangland execution in a packed pub in Greater Manchester.

Ian McLeod, 42, and Constance Howarth, 38, had denied a plot to murder two men in the Brass Handles pub, Salford. A third man was cleared.

A court heard how the pair hired would-be hitmen Carlton Alveranga, 20, and Richard Austin, 19, who burst into the building and opened fire.

But the pair missed their targets and were shot dead in the ensuing melee.

Trial judge Mr Justice Andrew Smith remanded into custody McLeod, of Victoria Street, Radcliffe, and Howarth, of Rosalind Court, Salford. They will be sentenced on a date yet to be fixed.

Conspiracy to murder can carry a life sentence depending on the level of danger to the public a defendant represents.

From the outset the investigation team was faced with little other than the registration number of a car seen in the area, two dead bodies and two mobile phones
Det Supt Andy Tattersall

The gunmen stormed into the pub in Edgehill Close, Langworthy, shortly before 1415 GMT on 12 March 2006.

At the time, the pub was busy with people watching a live televised football match between Manchester United and Newcastle United.

Target David Totton was shot and another man, Aaron Travers, was also hit as Austin pulled the trigger six times.

But Alveranga's 9mm handgun jammed and the pair were jumped on by drinkers, disarmed and then shot in the chest with their own weapons.

The pair staggered outside after the incident but were attacked as they lay dying on the grass verge outside, Preston Crown Court heard.

Mr Totton and Mr Travers were both badly injured but survived.

Carlton Alveranga and Richard Austin
The hitmen were shot dead in the ensuing melee

The court was told that the botched hit was arranged by McLeod on the orders of another man, security firm boss Bobby Spiers, who is still being hunted by police.

Howarth, who previously served five years in jail after police found a Mach 10 sub-machine guns in the boot of her car, acted as a "spotter" in the pub to direct the hitmen to their target.

Det Supt Andy Tattersall, who led the investigation, said: "This was a premeditated attempt at cold-blooded murder in a pub packed with families and children on a Sunday afternoon.

"Howarth and McLeod may not have physically pointed a gun at Totton but their involvement was so integral to the organisation of this venture that without them it would not have been possible."

Inquiry ongoing

Mr Tattersall said someone inside the pub fatally shot both men with their own weapons.

"This remains an open investigation and we are continuing to try and establish exactly who fired those fatal shots.

"The investigation has been an extremely difficult and complex case, with many people reluctant to come forward with information for fear of reprisals.

"From the outset the investigation team was faced with little other than the registration number of a car seen in the area, two dead bodies and two mobile phones."

Warren Mason, 23, of Jackson Street, Kearsley, was cleared.


SEE ALSO
Woman denies arranging shooting
13 Mar 07 |  Manchester
Pub hitmen 'were shot in melee'
20 Feb 07 |  Manchester

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