Five men convicted of conspiring to commit murder at a flat in Bury St Edmunds have today (September 30) been jailed.
All had denied involvement in the plot to kill Jonathan Catchpole at an address in Forum Court on August 4 last year but they were found guilty by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court following a trial earlier this year.
Today the men, three of whom had burst into Mr Catchpole’s home where he was blasted at point blank range with a sawn-off shotgun, were sentenced to a total of 112 years.
During the trial, it emerged that Suffolk businessman Colin Deferia, 60, had offered £12,500 for Mr Catchpole, Deferia’s daughter’s ex partner, to be killed.
Deferia, of Battisford Road, Barking, near Needham Market, claimed he had only wanted Mr Catchpole to be frightened and was unaware any firearms were to be involved.
Deferia was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and today Judge David Goodin jailed him for 26 years.
In mitigation, Mark Milliken-Smith said Deferia had been suffering from a depressive illness before and at the time of the shooting.
In a statement read to the court, Mr Catchpole said he had been on good terms with Deferia before the shooting.
In it, he said: “I was friends with Colin Deferia for almost five years. He was someone I looked up to.”
Mr Catchpole described harassment which ended in the shooting as ‘terrorism’.
He said the attack had left him ‘looking over his shoulder’ and suffering from anxiety and depression.
The trial heard the events leading up to the shooting followed an acrimonious break up of a five and a half year relationship which Mr Catchpole had had with Deferia’s daughter.
Mr Catchpole said: “How I survived the shooting is a miracle. I have been left with scars which make me embarrassed when I go swimming.”
He was shot after answering the door of his flat when three men armed with a sawn-off shotgun burst in and pushed him against a wall. He was later airlifted to hospital where doctors removed 42 shotgun pellets and cartridge wadding from his chest.
The shotgun used had been stolen in a burglary and had the barrel shortened. A stolen car was also used as a getaway vehicle.
The three men involved in the shooting, Andrew Seaton, 40, Frank Warren, 52, and Simon Webber, 32, were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder.
Seaton, of Frome View, Maiden Newton, Dorchester, Warren of Victoria Road, Dorchester and Webber, of Sydenham Close, Bridgwater all declined to give evidence during the trial.
Webber was the man who allegedly pulled the shotgun trigger.
Webber, Warren and Seaton were each sentenced to 23 years.
The fifth man convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, Paul Baker, 35, of Maiden Newton, Dorchester, had acted as a ‘middle man’ for Deferia, recruiting the three men who carried out the shooting, the court heard.
Baker, who was jailed for 17 years, told the jury he was unaware of what was going to happen to Mr Catchpole.
He said: “I definitely didn’t know he was going to be shot.”
Prosecuting, Mr Jackson said that while Deferia and Baker had no previous convictions, Webber, Seaton and Warren had all served previous terms of imprisonment.
Mr Jackson told Judge Goodin the prosecution had cost £113,860 in legal and expert fees and civilian witnesses.
Speaking after today’s hearing, Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Millar of the Major Investigation Team said: “This was a pre-planned and orchestrated attempt to murder an innocent man, all because of a grudge held against him by Colin Deferia.
“Deferia hired the other four men to carry out this attack and between them they thought they had planned the perfect crime. This included making false calls to police in the months before the attack insinuating that the victim was involved in criminality to stealing the car, number plates and weapon used to carry the attack out.
“This was an investigation that took us across the country and we are grateful to a number of other police forces and agencies who assisted us with our enquires.
“A dedicated team of detectives and support staff worked extremely hard in the opening days of this inquiry, using all of the modern investigative tools at their disposal, and the fact that just over a week after the attack occurred all five of these men had been identified as suspects and arrested is testament to the efforts of everyone involved.
“The victim of this attack required life-saving surgery and was extremely fortunate that the gunshot did not fatally wound him. I hope that the sentences given to these five men today enable him to begin the process of moving on with his life following this terrifying ordeal.”