Rigger turned drug addict fired air rifle before 'being used as punchbag' in huge armed street brawl

Liam Matthews, Nathan Sloan and Luke Madden
-Credit: (Image: Cleveland Police)

Three men have been jailed after a street fight where a visitor to a "drugs house" fired his bolt-action rifle at another man.

Nathan Sloan, 32, fired at Luke Madden. The men then began fighting on Stockton's Bowesfield Lane, before spilling over into Northcote Street. Despite being injured, Madden, 31, approached Sloan with an axe and a wooden slate, which he used as a shield.

Madden used the axe handle to attack Sloan before he got hold of Sloan's gun and tried to fire it at him as he lay on the ground. The gun did not discharge but Madden's pal Liam Matthews came out of the house to join in on the attack.

Matthews, 34, carried a metal spike with him, but he did not use it in the attack. He joined Madden in kicking and stamping on Sloan as he lay in the middle of the street. Within ten seconds, Sloan had lost consciousness.

A fourth man, who has not been identified, joined in on the attack on Sloan as the youngest member of the group, Ellis Heald, 19, stamped on Sloan's head. The whole fight was captured on CCTV, and as Sloan lay unconscious, Matthews could be seen going through his pockets.

Teesside Crown Court has heard that drug addict Sloan was visiting Paul Metcalfe's home on Bowesfield Lane in Stockton, in the early hours of December 6. After Sloan fired his rifle at Madden, three other men came out of the house and attacked him.

Police at the scene of an incident on Northcote Street in Stockton
Police at the scene of an incident on Northcote Street in Stockton -Credit:Terry Blackburn

When the police arrived at 2am, they found Sloan lying on his back, motionless, on Northcote Street. Sloan came round, and told them that he had had £500 stolen from him. He was taken to hospital but on Monday, prosecutor Paul Abrahams told the court that he became aggressive.

"He kicked PC Chelsea Greenwood, causing her to fall backwards onto a bed. He was intoxicated," Mr Abrahams said, "his rifle was an air cylinder powered bolt-action one. The police found a black handgun in his jacket."

Paul Metcalfe, who lives in the house on Bowesfield Lane, could be seen wondering around the street as the other men joined in on the attack. He was found not guilty of taking part in the violent disorder.

Sloan, of Turton Road in Yarm, pleaded guilty to the possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence; assault occasioning actual bodily harm and the possession of a blade in a public place. He has 13 previous convictions for 20 offences, which include battery, a serious assault and dangerous driving - where he led police on a chase through Billingham.

Sloan's defence barrister, Jonathan Walker, said that his client had gone from holding down an off-shore job on the rigs to becoming a drug addict. He said that an ex-girlfriend had made a serious false allegation against Sloan, and he had started taking Zopiclone tablets to help him deal with the worry.

Mr Walker said that Sloan carried a gun to shoot rabbits. "How does a 32-year-old man find himself with a gun he usually uses for dispensing of rabbits or for target practice at his girlfriend's - how does he find himself standing in a narcotic haze in some sort of vendetta outside a drugs den,?" he said.

"He was lying on the floor being used as a punchbag by the others. He's extremely fortunate to have walked away with his life. We can imagine why he was there, but why he armed himself as he did....an utter moment of madness."

Madden, of Hartington Road in Stockton, pleaded guilty to violent disorder, the possession of a bladed article; and the possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. Madden served 32-months for a knife point attempted robbery in 2021, where he tried to force a man to handover his car keys.

In mitigation for Luke Madden, Michael Cahill told the court that his client would not have got involved in the disorder "if the initial shot had not been fired." The barrister said: "He should have called the police and said he'd been shot at. He left the house with an axe, but he deliberately held the blade down and used the handle."

Mr Cahill said that Madden has started a methadone programme in prison and that his uncle has offered him a job as a tree surgeon, when he is released.

Liam Matthews
Nathan Paul Sloan

Matthews, of Oxbridge Lane in Stockton and Ellis Heald, 19, of Danby Grove in Thornaby, both admitted taking part in violent disorder. Victoria Lamballe said that Liam Matthews "is a drug addict who steals to fund his habit" but that since he has been held on remand, he has been drug-free and he now has an offer of a job from his father, working in demolition.

For Heald, Nicci Horton said that her client was 18 at the time of the fight, and that he is immature for his age. She said that Heald "has an offer of a job in the windows business, should he not be set to prison. "He no longer associates with these peers and he lives with his grandparents," she added.

A cordon is in place on Northcote Street, in Stockton
Luke Benjamin Madden

Judge Harry Vann told the men: "Police found Nathan Sloan lying motionless in the road with a .177 calibre air pistol. The CCTV showed the fracas and incident occurred outside Paul Metcalfe's address. The police went in and you were arrested.

"Sloan had attended that address armed and he fired at Luke Madden. Madden then approaches Sloan with an axe and takes his rifle and tries to fire it at him.

"Madden and Matthews kicked and stamped on Sloan. Heald stamped on his head, whilst he was unconscious.

"Sloan - you were intoxicated and it is clear that your drug addiction was so severe, that your intoxication cannot be said to be entirely voluntary. You were later shocked by what you had done.

"Luke Madden - you instigated this assault. Ellis Heald, you are a relatively young man who has never been to prison. You have a good chance of rehabilitation and I can suspend your sentence."

Sloan was jailed for 40-months. Luke Madden was jailed for three-years and Liam Matthews was handed a 22-month prison sentence. All three man will serve half of the sentence, before they are released on licence.

Ellis Heald was handed a two-year prison term, suspended for two-years. He must attend 30-rehabilitation days; and carry out 150-hours of unpaid work. He was be electronically tagged to check that he is living at his grandparents' home and he was out under a six-month curfew, from 6pm to 6am.