29/06/2006

Three found guilty in 'revenge killing' murder

Three men have been found guilty of conspiring to murder a married couple, found shot dead at their seaside home.

John Stirland, 55, and his wife, Joan, 53, were found shot dead at their house in Trusthorpe, Lincolnshire in August 2004.

John Russell, 29, of Northcote Way, Nottingham, Michael McNee, 21, of no fixed address and a 39-year-old defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were found guilty of the murder at Birmingham Crown Court.

Five other defendants - Shane Bird, 39, of Carlton Hill, Nottingham, Kevin Holm, 38, of Cliff Road, Carlton, Lanelle Douglas, 20, Andrew McKinnon, 22, both of no fixed address and a 40-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons - were cleared of the charges.

The court heard that the catalyst for the murders was the death of a teenager after the murder of Marvyn Bradshaw, by Mrs Stirland's son Michael O'Brien in 2003.

The 18-year-old, who was with Mr Bradshaw on the night he was shot, had been unable to cope after the murder and had turned to drugs, dying of pnuemonia a year after the murder took place.

Mr and Mrs Stirland were murdered within a week of the teenagers death. Two men broke into their home, armed with Beretta pistols, and shot Mr Stirland six times and his wife four times.

The couple had moved to Trusthorpe eight months before the murder after their former home in Nottingham had been targeted in a gun attack.

Prosecutor Timothy Spencer QC told the court that the gang's vengeance had been "swift and devastating".

However, the prosecution was unable to establish who had pulled the trigger and admitted that not all the gang members had been traced.

(KMcA/GB)

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