Man cleared of ordering ride-by shooting of bouncer 'because his son was thrown out of nightclub'

John Henry Sayers was found not guilty of ordering the shooting (PA Images)

A well-known criminal from Newcastle has been cleared of ordering the ride-by shooting of a bouncer.

John Henry Sayers, 54, is still facing a prison sentence for perverting the course of justice.

Doorman Matthew McCauley was lucky to survive after he was shot outside the Tup Tup Palace on June 6, 2015.

Two other members of staff were also injured when a gunman rode up on a motorbike and opened fire with a sawn-off shotgun.

Sayers was accused of ordering Michael Dixon, 50, to carry out the shooting after his son was thrown out from the club and punched by a doorman in an altercation a few weeks prior.

Michael Dixon was ordered by John Henry Sayers to do the ride-by shooting at Tup Tup Palace (PA Images)

The Old Bailey jury deliberated for more than 30 hours to find Sayers and Dixon, both from Walker in Newcastle, not guilty of conspiracy to murder.

Sayers was also acquitted of conspiring to possess a shotgun with intent to endanger life, while Dixon was found guilty of the same offence by a majority of 11 to one.

Judge Mark Lucraft QC told serving prisoner Dixon he would take into account that he had already been convicted of another offence committed around the same time.

Sayers is still facing a prison sentence for perverting the course of justice, alongside convicted criminal Michael McDougall.

The two are alleged to have come in contact with each other in HMP Wakefield.

McDougall, 50, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of Indian takeaway boss Tipu Sultan, offered to take to fall for the ride-by shooting as he had “nothing to lose”, and told “a pack of lies” by trying to claim he was the gunman.

Michael McDougall, a convicted murderer serving a life sentence, told the jury he was the gunman as he had “nothing to lose” (PA Images)

A fourth defendant – Russell Sturman, 26, from Gosforth, Newcastle – hugged his co-accused in the dock after being cleared of assisting an offender.

Before the trial started, there had been an unsuccessful application by the prosecution to try the case without a jury.

Sayers had already been cleared of ordering another murder – the doorstep shooting of a man in 2000 – and subsequently cleared of influencing the Leeds jury in that case.

However, he is a convicted armed robber and tax-evader and said to be a feared man in the area.

Prosecutor Simon Denison QC said Sayers had “acquired and promoted a reputation”, and he wouldn’t allow his name to be “disrespected”.

Sayers’ reputation “as a man to be feared” meant “doors are opened for his family”, he added.

“Of course, that only lasts as long as the reputation is believed to be justified – which means that if his family is disrespected, violence has to follow,” Justice Denison said.

The family was given free entry to clubs without having to queue and free access to VIP areas “just to avoid serious trouble”.

The convicted defendants were remanded into custody to be sentenced at the Old Bailey on 21st September.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “This case was thoroughly investigated by a team of dedicated detectives.

“The evidence was subjected to careful scrutiny before a decision was taken to charge and it was only right that this evidence was put in front of a jury.

“We respect the decision the jury has made.”