A key figure in a Leeds drugs gang which was at the centre of a spate of shootings in the city has been given a life sentence for firearms offences.
Dwight Halliday was jailed for life with a minimum term of eight years and six months at Leeds Crown Court after being found guilty of possessing a 9mm handgun, ammunition and a silencer with intent.
Reece Liburd, aged 23, of no fixed address, was jailed for ten years and five months after pleading guilty to firearms offences at earlier hearings.
The court heard how armed officers arrested Liburd when they stopped a taxi in Lincoln Green Road, Mabgate, on September 9 last year. Shortly before this, police surveillance officers had observed him meeting Halliday and walking away cradling something under his jacket.
Liburd was found in possession of a bag that contained a 9mm Russian-made Baikal semi-automatic pistol that was loaded with seven 9mm rounds, along with a silencer.
Later that evening, armed officers arrested Halliday from an Audi car near Bridgewater Place in Leeds city centre. A search of the car uncovered a pair of gloves which when forensically tested showed Halliday’s DNA and gunshot residue.
Bad character evidence that was submitted to the trial showed how Halliday had been linked to a shooting incident which happened in Roundhay Road on August 16 last year.
Shortly after 6pm that day, Halliday was driving a black Vauxhall Astra hire car that was being pursued at high speed by an Audi S3 amid rush-hour traffic.
A passenger in the Audi fired what was believed to be handgun at Halliday before the Audi crashed into the Astra and drove off at speed.
Halliday abandoned the Astra and sought refuge in nearby shops. The Audi was later found burnt out.
Police recovered the Astra and found a spent bullet in the boot. They also recovered a pair of gloves from the vehicle which had Halliday’s DNA on them along with gunshot residue.
The court was told Halliday, aged 31, of Arthington Street, Hunslet, had previous convictions for drugs offences and had previously been jailed for 12 years for firearms offences, kidnapping, wounding with intent and dangerous driving.
Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Spencer, who led the investigation, said: “Halliday has been a key figure in an organised crime group that is involved in the supply of Class A drugs in the Chapeltown area and beyond. These latest convictions show he was someone who had the capability to acquire and supply a handgun, ammunition and a silencer to another criminal.
“Weapons like this have only one deadly purpose and we can reasonably assume it was being supplied to Liburd to be used in crime. The timely interventions of the police took that weapon off the streets before it could be used.
“Halliday and Liburd were arrested during a targeted police operation that came in response to a series of firearms discharges and other incidents linked to a turf war between criminal groups in the area which came to a head in the summer of 2016.
“The bad character evidence admitted to the court and our own intelligence picture shows that Halliday was someone who was very much at the heart of these events.
“Earlier this month we saw three men imprisoned for a minimum of 33 years each for the murder of Raheem Wilks. His murder, at just nineteen years of age, was a very stark illustration of the human tragedy that results from the criminal use of firearms on our streets.
“The sentences his killers received and the significant terms of imprisonment that Halliday and Liburd have been given today should highlight the very serious penalties that people will face if they involve themselves in this type of criminality.
“The organised supply of drugs and the violence that goes with it cause understandable concern in our communities and cannot be tolerated. I want to reassure people that we will continue to use every available tactic to proactively target and take action against those who are involved in these offences.”