PRIVACY IS PRICELESS
The hidden world of a violent gang has been exposed through a string of secret messages found by police. Officers found chilling messages from some of Merseyside's most violent criminals on an encrypted text messaging site.
Merseyside Police uncovered conversations involving gangster Jonathan Gordon, under the EncroChat username 'ValuedBridge.' The messages laid bare the ruthless trade and the lengths Gordon would go to to be paid.
In encrypted text conversations with an unidentified gang boss using the EncroChat handle 'AceProspect', Gordon set out plans to "cook" their enemies with acid, while gloating over the strength of the chemicals they had obtained to carry out the sick attacks. The pair shared pictures of metal canisters overflowing with frothing acid, as well as handguns.
After Mr Deakin was attacked on April 14, 2019, Gordon was ordered to carry out two further attacks in April 2020. A plan to travel to Blackpool and hurl acid into the face of a man called Joe Bradley was aborted due to the coronavirus lockdown, meaning the deserted roads would leave them too exposed to police attention.
However another plot to blind a man called Nathan Simpson, at a house in Birtles Road, Warrington, came chillingly close to fruition. Gordon had hired Ellesmere Port-based thug Dylan Johnston to carry out the attack, and petty criminal Stephen Wissett, also from the Cheshire town, to drive Johnston to Warrington in a stolen Ford Fiesta on April 6, 2020.
The thugs aborted the plan for that day, however, when they noticed CCTV by Mr Simpson's property. When 'AceProspect' was told the attack had failed, he and Gordon had a chilling conversation about returning to execute the plan.
Ellen Shaw, junior counsel for the prosecution, told the court: "Several messages were exchanged between AceProspect and Gordon where the intention to continue the attack was made clear. It was suggested that Nathan Simpson should be stabbed in the leg and prevented from going to the sink to wash the acid off."
Ms Shaw said Gordon, referring back to the devastating attack on Mr Deakin, bemoaned the fact that: "C*** got to the sink". AceProspect then ordered Gordon to "double the dose bro....acid him and bird proper, blind them both...I just want his face melted."
The thugs also revelled in the fact the acid they had obtained had melted a metal container. AceProspect said "f****d that acid", and Gordon replied "proper one that bro".
The crooks planned to return to Birtles Road on April 7, but they were thwarted again when Merseyside Police officers approached a stolen car containing Gordon, Johnston and Wissett in Liverpool, prompting them to flee. Still Gordon and AceProspect continued to discuss an attack on Mr Simpson, with Gordon promising: "He getting blinded bro".
Ironically, Mr Simpson may have been saved from being blinded by someone leaving a hand grenade outside his house on April 14. Armed police and the army's bomb squad attended and the increased attention appeared to dissuade the attackers from returning.
Gordon's messages also helped to link him to a series of shocking shootings, including two open gunfights with rival street gangs in Walton. In one message he told AceProspect he had "let off a clip in the street", which investigators linked to an incident in Wilburn Street, Walton, an address "closely associated" with Gordon.
In another terrifying incident, on May 25, 2020, a bullet flew through the window of a house in Carisbrooke Road, Walton, what was described as the home of an "elderly couple". Describing that incident, Judge David Aubrey, QC, passing sentence, told Gordon: "The world in which you live brings you into conflict with others.
Messages from Gordon to AceProspect bemoaned the fact he had "lost the gun" in that incident. Ballistics experts found the bullet had been fired from a Grand Power brand handgun, and matched bullets used to shoot up a house in Reaper Close, Warrington, in March - an attack Gordon had subcontracted to Ellesmere Port based thug Dylan Johnston, 28.
Gordon denied any wrongdoing, but was convicted by a jury of three counts of conspiracy to commit GBH, two of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life, and one of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life. Passing sentence, Judge Aubrey told Gordon: "Your trade was not confined to acid attacks, you had ready access to several lethal firearms and ammunition.
"That speaks volumes to your ruthlessness and callousness and inhumanity to man. Your complete disregard for the sanctity of life and fellow human-beings knows no bounds...
"That which you did or were seeking to do reached the depths of inhumanity. There is no mitigation."
Johnston was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit GBH and one count of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life and was handed an extended sentence of 27 years in prison, with an additional four on licence. He must serve at least 18 years in prison before any chance of being released by a Parole Board.
Wissett, who admitted one count of conspiracy to commit GBH was jailed for 12 years, meaning he will be automatically released on licence after eight years.
Ben Rutter, operations manager at the National Crime Agency (NCA), said: "Jonathan Gordon is a terrifyingly dangerous offender, he was totally unconcerned about blinding someone for money. This investigation spanned a number of years and brought out the best in our officers who were aided by superb work from Merseyside Police and Cheshire Police."