Teenager who kneecapped man jailed for 12 years after firearms and ammo seizure | UK | News

A teenager who kneecapped a man after opening fire with a pistol outside a convenience store in the early hours has been jailed for more than 12 years after firearms and ammunition were seized at a property in Liverpool. Joel Harvey, who is 17 now but was 16 at the time of the offence, carried out the shooting on Prescot Road in Old Swan in a “revenge” attack against his victim. He was then linked to a second incident during which a different man was shot in the chest just weeks later in Broadgreen.

Harvey was locked up for 12-and-a-half years on Wednesday, after being convicted of a string of firearms offences. While defendants cannot ordinarily be named until they are 18, reporting restrictions surrounding his identity were lifted after a legal challenge by the Liverpool Echo.

A trial at Liverpool Crown Court previously heard Harvey, from Croxteth, shot 33-year-old Michael Costello with a Grand Power G9A self-loading pistol in both legs in the early hours of December 11, 2021.

Prosecuting, Henry Riding described how the youth took a taxi from Old Swan – where he was staying with his grandmother – at about 2.30am to One Stop on Prescot Road and back again.

CCTV footage captured both men outside. Mr Costello remained in the area just after 3am, when he was approached by two males on e-bike, wearing dark clothing and with their faces covered.

At this point Harvey, who recruited an accomplice to take there after collecting a gun, fired three shots – hitting his target with two. Mr Costello suffered a fractured left kneecap while another bullet passed through his right thigh, leaving him needing surgery on both legs.

The shooting was suspected to have been carried out “in revenge or retaliation” for an attack carried out by Mr Costello previously or possibly due to a “preexisting grudge”.

The same gun was used to shoot Lewis Cottage, a man in his 20s, at around 9pm on January 16, 2022 on the Green in Broadgreen.

He arrived at the Royal Liverpool Hospital with gunshot wounds to his chest and arms. Harvey’s DNA was found on one of two fired cartridge cases which were recovered by police from the scene.

The teen was subsequently arrested on suspicion of attempted murder on January 27, but was later released under investigation. On June 18 2022, the firearm used in both attacks was seized from his possession during a raid on a house in Stoneycroft.

Firearms officers swooped on the address assisted by the police helicopter, smashing through the doors to a conservatory where Harvey was sat wearing a tracksuit and a balaclava.

The “startled” teenager ran into the building and was found in the eaves of the loft more than three hours later. After a struggle, he was detained.

Harvey’s bag was recovered with the loaded and “racked” gun inside. One bullet was loaded into the chamber ready to be fired, with another nine in a magazine in the handle of the weapon.

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DNA swabs from the firearm later proved to be a match with the youngster. The court was told that Harvey “must have had control over or ready access to it at all times”.

He has two previous convictions, including one for possession of a bladed article in a public place in 2020 for which he was handed a youth rehabilitation order. Jason Smith, defending, said on his behalf: “This is a young man who was 16 years of age at the time of these offences and is now 17.

“There is a background of a young man who was being exploited and who has had a difficult and traumatic upbringing. He has adapted to life in prison and has used it positively.

“It is encouraging to see him applying himself and attempting in every way he can to better himself. One can only hope these positive intentions remain and that when this young man is released from prison he is able to lead a law-abiding, constructive future.”

Harvey was convicted of wounding with intent, two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, two charges of possession of ammunition with intent to endanger life and possession of ammunition by a jury in December. Appearing via video link to HMP Wetherby this morning, he showed no emotion as he was handed the lengthy prison term plus an additional two-and-a-half years on licence.

Family members were seen crying and hugging in the public gallery. Sentencing, Judge Clement Goldstone KC said: “Either because of something said to or indicated about you, or because of a preexisting grudge which you held against him for something which he had done to you or a friend, you decided he needed to be taught a lesson.

“So you returned to your grandmother’s home nearby, armed yourself with a loaded and lethal Grand Power self-loading automatic pistol and commissioned another male to ride you back to the vicinity of the shop on an e-bike in the hope and belief that Michael Costello would still be there. He was still there, and as you rode past on the back of the e-bike you fired a total of three shots.

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“The cartridges you fired struck him twice and caused him really serious, if not life-threatening, injury. The pistol was one which was either already in your possession or one to which you had ready, no questions asked access.

“Despite having been arrested and interviewed twice, in fact on suspicion not only of firearms offences but also of attempted murder, you were totally unphased by the experience and moved on to commit the last set of offences which, had you not been arrested when you were, would undoubtedly have led to you carrying out a further shooting with the intention at least of endangering the life of your intended victim or victims.

“You collected the same firearm from somewhere you knew it would be, either because you had stashed it there or because you were trusted to take it on loan from whoever had it.

“Through the streets of Liverpool you went wearing a balaclava to cover your face with that loaded pistol, either on a stolen motorbike or on foot, ending up at the Beechwalk. When officers of Merseyside Police stormed that address you tried to make good your escape, but you were eventually found three hours later hiding in the roof void.

“I have no doubt from the fact that the pistol was loaded and ready to fire that, had the police not arrested you, you would have used the pistol to settle another score with potentially fatal consequences. The facts of this case would make staggering reading if you were an adult, but it defies belief – even in these times of unparalleled street violence – that someone who was only 16 years old when these offences were committed should be so steeped in gangland culture and be prepared to engage in open warfare on the streets of this great city without any concern or regard for the safety of its citizens in general, let alone those with whom you were in dispute.

“I only wish I could say it is a wholly isolated incident but sadly, as recent events have reminded us, it is not. That you should have behaved in this way on two separate occasions marks you out as a youth who – despite his age – considers himself to be above the law, has no concern for the lives or safety of others and who is a thoroughly dangerous individual.

“You possessed a level of maturity and credibility which allowed you to be trusted by those who were older than you and were even more steeped in gangland culture than you were. These were not offences which you committed either spontaneously or in the heat of the moment, without time to think or to appreciate the full implication of your actions.

“They were offences which required a degree of thought, planning and determination more often associated with older and more mature persons. I do not accept that, despite your age, you had great or indeed any difficulty in sourcing a weapon and ammunition nor that you were acting under the instruction of those more criminally sophisticated than yourself.

“You may have been younger than others in the criminal hierarchy in which you were involved, but you played a full and active role within it and were able to get others to do your bidding. You are said on the one hand to be a courteous young man with a sense of humour but on the other hand someone who is ready, able and willing to act with extreme violence for which you show and feel no remorse whatsoever.”


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