GANG members were involved in a series of revenge shootings in Bolton, Farnworth and Little Hulton in which three people were injured and bullets fired at homes.

Manchester Crown Court heard that police had to commit substantial resources to an investigation codenamed Operation Overspill after violence erupted between gangs from Farnworth, Little Hulton and Salford. During a six-day period in October, 2015 a gun was fired at several addresses.

Anthony Smith, aged 24, of Cannon Street, Bolton, Kane Morrison, aged, 23, of no fixed address, Harry Allen, aged 29, of no fixed address and Patrick McCann, aged 32, of Baron Fold Close, Little Hulton, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life. Marc Murray, aged, 32, of no fixed address and John Kennedy, aged 44, of Dunedin Drive, Salford, denied the offence but were convicted following a trial earlier this year.

At their sentencing hearing Andrew Smith, prosecuting, told Judge Suzanne Goddard QC: “The firearm was never recovered but was used in four separate shootings.”

The first shooting involving the gun took place on October 5, 2015 at Coniston Avenue, Little Hulton, then five days later there were further shootings at Stonechurch, Bolton, Worsley Road in Farnworth and Gorse Drive, Little Hulton.

The court heard that the first shooting happened because Murray was serving a prison sentence when he learned his former partner, Charlene Budgeon, had begun a relationship with James Dixon. He was furious and began planning his revenge.

“They had had the audacity to form a relationship whilst he was inside. His pride would not allow such disrespect to go unpunished and, it would seem, that as he neared the end of his prison sentence, his thoughts turned to revenge,” said Mr Smith.

On October 5, two men on a scooter confronted Darren Williams outside his home in Coniston Avenue, Little Hulton and demanded to know where “Dicko” was before shooting him in the leg, abdomen and arm.

“One bullet wasn’t recovered. It still sits in Mr Williams’ abdomen as it was deemed too risky to operate and remove it,” said Mr Smith.

“It was a brutal way of sending a message from Mr Murray to Mr Dixon and Charlene Budgeon,” he added.

Five days later the gun, which the prosecution claim was owned by the Salford gang which included Murray and Kennedy, was loaned to McCann, Morrison and their associates so they could take revenge against a Little Hulton gang.

The court heard that there had been a lengthy feud between the Farnworth gang and members of a Little Hulton gang, which included the Blood and Holland families. Connor Holland, Dean Holland and Jane Blood have all been convicted of conspiracies directed against members of the Farnworth gang, including McCann and Morrison.

On October 7, 2015 a motorbike and some cannabis was stolen from Connor Holland. Kane Morrison was present when the motorbike was taken and a vehicle associated with McCann was spotted near where the cannabis went missing.

“It caused the Holland clan to react violently towards the Farnworth group in the form of an attack on Morrison’s home,” said Mr Smith.

Morrison was not at his home in Mossbrook Drive, Little Hulton at around midnight on October 9 when shots were fired through the window, injuring Winston Ricketts, the partner of Morrison’s mother.

The following morning the Farnworth gang, which had a pre-existing alliance with the Salford group met to borrow their gun.

“McCann and Morrison knew that Murray was the person to go to when they wanted access to a firearm,” said Mr Smith.

The gun was handed over by Murray and his “sidekick” Kennedy to the McCann group at Boggart Hole Clough, Blackley.

Murray and McCann even recorded the meeting in a photograph found on Murray’s phone.

The weapon was taken to be stored at Stonechurch flats at Cannon Street, Bolton where Anthony Smith and John McAtee lived.

But the gun accidently went off, shooting John McAtee and the gang abandoned him, bleeding, on the pavement.

“Their behaviour displayed a ruthlessness that is as chilling as it is disgraceful,” said Mr Smith.

Later that night the weapon was used by two men on a motorbike to fire at a house in Worsley Road, Farnworth – the home of Connor Holland’s father, Shaun Holland.

No one was injured but Morrison admits being on the motorbike and the prosecution claim Allen was also riding it.

The gun was then dropped off at Century Lodge, Farnworth, where it was collected by other members of the gang.

A taxi picked up McCann and three others at 10.20pm and took them to Tennyson Road, Farnworth.

“The taxi driver overheard the men talking about an ongoing dispute with a male and about teaching him a lesson for disrespecting them,” said Mr Smith.

Then at 11.20pm there was another shooting, this time at Connor Holland’s home in Gorse Avenue, Little Hulton.

The prosecution claim Murray was the head of the Salford gang, with Kennedy in a subservient role, driving him around in hire cars.

And they say McCann headed the Farnworth gang, with Morrison slightly below him in the pecking order.

All the defendants are expected to receive lengthy prison terms when Judge Goddard passes sentence, on Tuesday.

The prosecution have also asked her to consider granting serious crime prevention orders against all the defendants except Smith.