Man started carrying 'gun' in his trousers after being kneecapped by teen

A man took to carrying a toy gun after he was kneecapped by a teenage boy during a shooting outside a convenience store.

Michael Costello was hauled before Liverpool Crown Court this week after firefighters spotted him pulling the imitation firearm from his trousers during an altercation at the Western Approaches pub in Croxteth. He was then whisked away in a taxi, telling the driver that he was "strapped" before ditching the fake weapon in his former partner's bathroom.

The ECHO previously reported that the 35-year-old, of Knighton Road in Walton, fell victim after gunman Joel Harvey, then 16, opened fire with a pistol in a "revenge" attack on Prescot Road in Old Swan. The youth was then linked to a second incident in which another man was shot in the chest only weeks later in Broadgreen.

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A trial heard that Harvey, of Lindisfarne Drive in Croxteth, shot Costello with a Grand Power G9A self-loading pistol in the early hours of December 11 2021. Henry Riding, prosecuting, described how the youth took an Alpha taxi from Baden Road in Old Swan, where he was staying with his grandma, to One Stop on Prescot Road at around 2.30am and then back again.

CCTV footage captured both parties outside the shop during this visit. Costello remained in the area shortly after 3am, when he was approached by two males riding an e-bike, wearing dark clothing and with their faces covered.

It was at this point that Harvey, who had recruited an accomplice to transport him to the scene after returning to his grandmother's home to collect the gun, fired three shots - hitting his target with two. Costello suffered a fractured left kneecap while another bullet passed through his right thigh, leaving him requiring surgery on both legs.

It was suspected that the shooting was carried out "in revenge or retaliation" for an attack carried out by Costello previously or due to a "preexisting grudge". The same gun was then used to shoot Lewis Cottage, a man in his 20s, at around 9pm on January 16, 2022, on the Green in Broadgreen.

He presented at the Royal Liverpool Hospital on that evening after suffering gunshot wounds to his chest and arms. Harvey's DNA was discovered on one of two fired cartridge cases which were recovered by police from the scene.

The teen was convicted of wounding with intent, two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, two charges of possession of ammunition with intent to endanger life and possession of ammunition following a trial. Appearing via video link to HMP Wetherby this morning, he showed no emotion as he was handed 12-and-a-half years behind bars and handed an additional two-and-a-half years on licence.

Sentencing, Judge Clement Goldstone KC said: "Either because of something said to or indicated about you, or because of a pre-existing grudge which you held against him for something which he had done to you or a friend, you decided he needed to be taught a lesson. So you returned to your grandmother’s home nearby, armed yourself with a loaded and lethal Grand Power self-loading automatic pistol and commissioned another male to ride you back to the vicinity of the shop on an e-bike in the hope and belief that Michael Costello would still be there.

"He was still there, and as you rode past on the back of the e-bike you fired a total of three shots. The cartridges you fired struck him twice and caused him really serious, if not life-threatening, injury.

"The pistol was one which was either already in your possession or one to which you had ready, no questions asked access. Despite having been arrested and interviewed twice, in fact on suspicion not only of firearms offences but also of attempted murder, you were totally unfazed by the experience and moved on to commit the last set of offences which, had you not been arrested when you were, would undoubtedly have led to you carrying out a further shooting with the intention at least of endangering the life of your intended victim or victims."

Joel Harvey
Joel Harvey -Credit:Merseyside Police

The same court heard on Monday that fire crews were returning to Croxteth Fire Station on Storrington Avenue shortly before 8.30pm on May 21 last year following a callout. But, as they made their way along Lower House Lane en route, the driver heard shouting outside the pub and saw Costello "waving his arms about in the air" then "messing about with something in the waistband of his trousers" which he believed to be a firearm.

Mr Riding, again appearing for the prosecution during Costello's sentencing hearing, described how he began pointing this item towards the entrance of the premises before heading inside. But he left again shortly afterwards, triggering a vehicle to "speed off at an alarming speed".

Costello was then tailed by members of the fire service as he entered a taxi, which took him to his ex's house a short distance away. Armed police subsequently arrested him as he left the address and discovered a plastic gun and a BB gun in the downstairs toilet.

The occupant's 12-year-old son reported that he had seen the defendant enter the bathroom and leave the toy inside. The taxi driver later told officers that Costello had confessed to him that he had been "arguing with some male who did not know he was strapped" then "began tapping his side".

Under interview, he gave a prepared statement to detectives alleging that he had in fact been carrying a bottle of rum which he had "taken to consume at the pub". His previous convictions include a recent community order for affray and possession of an offensive weapon.

Kate Morley, defending, told the court: "He genuinely regrets his actions. He was in a particularly poor mental state at the time.

"He was sectioned twice under the Mental Health Act last year. He is in a much improved mental state.

"He cannot quite recall it because of his mental state at the time. He was all over the place mentally.

"He was in a bad place. He bitterly regrets his actions."

Michael Costello outside Liverpool Crown Court
Michael Costello outside Liverpool Crown Court -Credit:Liverpool Echo

Costello admitted carrying an imitation firearm in a public place. He was handed a five-month imprisonment suspended for a year, a rehabilitation activity requirement of up to 20 days and a programme requirement.

Sentencing, the Honorary Recorder of Liverpool Judge Andrew Menary KC said: "I have no doubt that you did have something in your hand, something which looked like a black handgun. What that was all about, I cannot know.

"You have not revealed what it was about. You accepted that you did have a toy gun, but found it in the gutter by chance that night.

"I reject this explanation. The fact of the matter is that, for whatever reason, that night you saw the opportunity to pick up an item that looked like a handgun, intending that people believed that it was a handgun.

"You must realise how close you have come to a more serious charge. You have struggled with your mental health in recent times.

"I am satisfied that you would benefit from some support from the probation service. You are a carer for your mother, and you have your own health issues.

"I hope that you can put this matter behind you now."

Costello replied: "Cheers, your honour."

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