A drugs king pin and five of his dealers brutally murdered a vulnerable man as part of a turf war.
A seventh man was also involved in the killing, Nottingham Crown Court heard.
Ross Ball, who was a heavy drug user, was killed at his flat which they had taken over as a base for their drugs supply operation in Sutton-in-Ashfield on 1 November 2019.
Mr Ball, 42, was targeted by unscrupulous criminals who used his home for their criminal activity and paid him in crack cocaine, heroin and mamba.
Garry Cooper, the boss of the gang which killed Mr Ball, had dealers using his flat to sell illegal narcotics. Buyers would post cash through the letterbox, with the drugs being posted back to them from inside.
The court heard how the murder was a dispute between two rival gangs operating in the area at the time. Mr Ball’s flat had been taken over by an opposition gang a few days before his death, and the attack was an attempt by Cooper and his men to reclaim the property for their drug dealing.
The prosecution argued that telephone calls between the defendants before the murder were evidence of the group planning out the attack.
Events came to a head on 1 November when Mr Ball and two other men were startled by shouting and banging on the front door of the flat.
Mr Ball and the other two men jumped out of the flat’s first floor window in an attempt to escape, but Mr Ball was set upon outside and stabbed to death in a savage attack by six gang members. He sustained multiple knife wounds and his ankle was partially severed in the attack.
The six men fled the scene in two cars and set off automatic number plate recognition cameras along their journey, allowing detectives investigating the murder to build up a picture of their movements.
Investigators spent hours of painstaking work going through mobile phone records to prove that phones linked to the suspects had been near the cameras at the times that they had picked up the suspect vehicles.
Three members of the group were captured on CCTV meeting with Garry Cooper, who was not at the scene but is believed to have orchestrated the killing, in Mansfield Town Centre after the attack.
Detective Inspector Becky Hodgman, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Ross Ball was a man caught in a cycle of drug use which tragically left him vulnerable to the actions of violent criminals.
“This is a really sad case and it’s important to remember that it only takes a few hard knocks and wrong turns in life to end up in a similar position.
“We’ll never know what Ross may have done with the rest of his life, or what kind of future might have been taken away from him by the cruel actions of his killers.
“No one deserves to have their life taken from them and we worked really hard to bring these men to justice. With so many offenders, it was a large and complex investigation which required a lot of meticulous police work.
“As well as justice for Ross, today’s verdict is a great result for the local community, who will no longer have to live with the impact these criminals were having on their area.
“I hope this case shows how serious it can be to get involved in the supply of drugs. It can lead to a cycle of violence which ultimately, as in this case, can result in a person losing their life and others spending a significant portion of theirs behind bars.”
Five men were found guilty of murder and conspiracy to supply class A drugs and were sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court today (22 December):
- Shaun Buckley, 29, of Lanchester Way in Solihull, Birmingham, was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison
- Jake Honer, 21, of Ludworth Avenue, Birmingham, was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison
- Anthony Daw, 25, of Meriden Drive in Chelmsley Wood, Birmingham, was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison
- Matthew Jones, 23, of Denby Close in Birmingham, was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison
- Garry Cooper, 34 of Kingsholme Road in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, was sentenced to a minimum of 29 years in prison
A sixth man, John McDonald, 25, of Mead Close, Birmingham, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to a minimum of 23 years in prison.
Connor Sharman, 22, of no fixed address, was convicted of manslaughter and conspiracy to supply class A drugs and sentenced to 21 years in prison.
Buckley, Honer, Daw, Jones, Cooper and Sharman had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A Drugs.
All of the men denied murder.
Adam Collins, 36, of Forest Road, Sutton-in-Ashfield was found not guilty of assisting an offender.