Love rival shot in head in shotgun attack

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court

A jealous dad plotted with a hitman to shoot his ex’s new love in a child custody row, a court has heard.

Mark Walsh, 35, was showered with more than 100 pellets from a sawn-off shotgun when he was gunned down at close range in an alley behind his home in Accrington

Kevin King, 30, of Lodge Lane, Lytham, denies conspiracy to murder Walsh – just days before a court hearing about his six-year-old daughter in January 2015.

In a covert recording, taken from his HGV lorry, King told a pal: “I’m going to guarantee he doesn’t see her.”

On January 12 last year, Walsh and his partner Chloe Goodbier were watching TV at their home in Mawdesley Street, Accrington, when their dogs started barking in the back yard. As Mr Walsh went to investigate he was blasted in the back of the head by a gunman, wearing a ski mask, in the alley behind their home. Mr Walsh suffered 88 per centhearing loss and has no memory of the three months following the shooting.

The gunman, Donovan Wallace, and his accomplice Jack Wilding, are serving prison sentences for conspiracy to murder Mr Walsh after they were seen running from the scene.

But at the time of the shooting, King – who denies any involvement – was in his lorry in Alton, Hampshire.

Opening the trial at Preston Crown Court, Michael Shorrock QC, prosecuting, said the plan had been hatched to give King “a cast iron alibi” as his hostility towards Mr Walsh would make him a prime suspect in any attempt to kill Mark Walsh.

In February 2012, a month after separating from Miss Goodbier, King was handed a restraining order after making threats to shoot his ex and Mr Walsh, telling her his daughter “will be pushing you around in a wheelchair.”

On January 13, the day after the shooting, King was arrested at Cobham Services on the M25 on January 13, and questioned for three days by police.

During his time in custody officers installed a covert recording device into the cab of his HGV.

In a number of recorded phone calls, made from his truck, King said the police were trying to pin the shooting on him but said they had let him out on bail as they did not have enough evidence.

He said: “It’s hard for them to prove that I was involved” adding sniffer dogs had been searching an industrial estate near Preston for the gun, “but they won’t find that.”

One friend, Andy Hayes, said to King: “I tell you one thing, you don’t do things by halves…” King replied: “I told you it was happening, didn’t I?”

When Hayes asked what it was all about, King told him: “A court case about the little ‘un.

“I’m going to guarantee he doesn’t see her.” Mobile phone records between King and Wallace on January 12 revealed the pair spent two and a half hours speaking to each other that day. In the time between the shooting and Wallace’s arrest, there were 38 failed calls and 18 successful conversations between Wallace and King.

Mr Shorrock said: “What were these calls and attempted calls about? Can you have any doubt they were about what had happened the previous night, what had gone wrong and what to do?

“Evidence of the history between Kevin King, Donovan Wallace and Mark Walsh establish a motive. The events of January 12 and 13 give rise to an irresistible inference that these two men planned the attack and Jack Wilding was recruited to carry out the plan.

“If you are sure there was an agreement to kill Mark Walsh and that Kevin King was party to it he is guilty of this offence – even though he did not pull the trigger and was not present when the shooting took place.”

(Proceeding)