A gunman and his two associates have been jailed after Manchester detectives uncovered footage of a drive-by shooting captured on CCTV that saw an innocent man’s car damaged in the crossfire.
The incident in the Harpurhey area of the city in broad daylight in the middle of January 2021 saw two cars driving in tandem at speed onto Briscoe Lane, where a man can be seen leaning out of the backseat window firing a gun at the car he and two other men were chasing.
Enquiries were conducted by investigators from our Central Park CID after a call was made to us from a man whose car was struck by a stray bullet when he was driving home from work – one of two shots that we believe were fired.
Following a trawl of CCTV in the local area, we discovered footage from the afternoon of the incident (Tuesday 19 January 2021) that showed Sean Cowie (32) hanging out the side of a dark grey BMW X5 pointing a gun at a black VW Golf that his associate Dean Urey (39) was pursuing.
Hours of meticulous work followed to identify the men involved and we arrested Cowie, Urey, Paul Ryan (43) to question them about their role in the incident.
While searching Ryan’s address on Ashton Road East, Oldham, we seized a shotgun from one of the bedrooms that we know wasn’t used in the incident but have been able to ensure it’s been removed from the streets and he’s now been punished for the prohibited possession of the weapon.
It was one of a number of discharges that occurred in the north of the city in early 2021, but detectives from our City of Manchester North division along with our Serious and Organised Crime Firearms Investigation Team (SOC FIT) have relentlessly tackled gun crime and seen a 92% reduction, with just two confirmed incidents reported in the last 12 months; compared to 26 the previous year.
Unfortunately, no firearm could be linked to the shooting and no one in the VW Golf were willing to support a prosecution, but Cowie, Ryan and Urey all eventually pleaded guilty to the offences we accused them of due to the overwhelming evidence presented to them at court.
At Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court today (Friday 18 March) all three men were sentenced to a total of over 17 years behind bars.
Shooter Cowie, of Ashton Road East, Oldham, was handed five years and seven months behind bars after being convicted of conspiracy with intent to cause fear or violence offence.
Ryan received a six-and-a-half year sentence for possession of a shotgun without a license and conspiracy with intent to cause fear or violence offence.
Urey, of Greaves Road, Failsworth, was ordered to serve five years and four months for admitting conspiracy with intent to cause fear or violence offence.
Detective Inspector Claire Moss, Senior Investigating Officer for Op Accentor, said: “The streets of north Manchester are much safer today now that Sean Cowie, Paul Ryan and Dean Urey are behind bars and unable to embark on any further reckless and potentially life-threatening acts of violence in our communities.
“We never established what this was all about, but what we uncovered from the CCTV of this attack was shocking to say the least, and it is quite clear from the fact an innocent man’s car was struck that this easily could’ve ended with somebody being seriously – if not fatally – injured.
“In the moments preceding the shooting, we can see plenty of daytime traffic coming and going through Briscoe Lane – including a woman pushing a pram – in what was a busy area so close to a local primary school in the middle of the school day. Anyone could’ve been seriously hurt here.
“There were a number of firearms incidents in the north of the city at the start of 2021 and we understand and share the concern that the public feel when these incidents happen so close to their doorstep; however, we’ve put a lot of effort and resources into disrupting and tackling those individuals we believe are involved in gun crime and have seen a significant drop in incidents since.
“Our investigation team worked meticulously on this case and I want to particularly pay tribute to the dedication and tenacity of DS Charlotte Quinn, DS Shauna Hayden and DC Florence Lowe who all worked diligently to ensure that these three men are now where they deserve to be.
“We are clear when we say that gun crime in Manchester is a massive priority for us and we will do all we can to investigate and prosecute anyone involved in the possession, distribution, or use of firearms on our streets and ensure that they will face the consequences of their extremely dangerous actions.”