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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 May 2007, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
Life for pub execution plotters
Constance Howarth and Ian McLeod
The pair were convicted by a jury at Preston Crown court
Two people who organised a gangland execution in a packed pub in Greater Manchester have been jailed for life.

Ian McLeod, 42, and Constance Howarth, 38, hired a pair of hitmen to kill two men as they watched a football match in the Brass Handles pub in Salford.

Carlton Alveranga, 20, and Richard Austin, 19, burst in and opened fire in March 2006 - but missed their targets and were killed in the ensuing melee.

McLeod was told he will serve a minimum of 21 years and Howarth 20 years.

Carlton Alveranga and Richard Austin

McLeod, of Victoria Street, Radcliffe, and Howarth, of Rosalind Court, Salford, were convicted of conspiracy to murder by a jury at Preston Crown Court last month.

The court heard how gunmen Alveranga and Austin 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.

Bobby Spiers
Police still want to trace Bobby Spiers over the incident

The pair staggered outside after the incident but were attacked as they lay dying on the grass verge outside.

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

Detective Superintendent 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.

"But their plan was to go disastrously wrong with two young men being shot dead with one of the weapons that they themselves had taken into the pub."

Police are still keen to trace a third man in connection with the shooting.

Linda Connelly
My son was no hitman. He was a typical boy who got into trouble but he was a perfect son
Linda Connelly
Carlton Alveranga's mother

Bobby Spiers, 39, from the Prestwich area, who was a director of PM Security, may hold vital information about the incident.

He has links to Salford but officers believe he may have even fled to Spain.

Detectives said the investigation into who exactly shot Austin and Alveranga remained open. Carlton Alveranga's mother Linda Connelly blamed her son's involvement on the community he lived in.

She said: "My son is no hitman, he never ran with no gangs. He was a typical boy [who] got into trouble but he was a perfect son and will be missed."

Jailing them, Mr Justice Andrew Smith said: "Two men died, they were not innocents, but they were young, their lives were not expendable."

Outside court, Det Supt Tattersall said: "This is a significant conviction. McLeod is an influential character within the underworld of Manchester and Moss Side.

"He recruited those boys and planned an execution. It's because of him they died.

"He used his influence on others to do his dirty work and is a very, very dangerous man."

Hitman's mother appeals for end to gun violence

Two guilty of pub execution plot
21 Mar 07 |  Manchester
Woman denies arranging shooting
13 Mar 07 |  Manchester
Pub hitmen 'were shot in melee'
20 Feb 07 |  Manchester

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