Tragedy behind dead 'Gooch gang' boss Lee Amos' lethal vendetta

Lee Amos
Lee Amos -Credit:GMP/PA Wire

Notorious gangster and former leader of the feared Gooch Gang Lee "Cabbo" Amos, who died in prison last week, plotted revenge when his 21-year-old brother was killed.

In what police chiefs called an "exceptional" weekend for gun crime, two people were killed and four were injured in four shootings across Greater Manchester.

The extreme violence began on the evening of Friday February 15, 2002, when a 40-year-old man was shot dead in Crumpsall. Two men were then shot the next evening in Moss Side, and, the next day, a man and his girlfriend were both injured when a gunman fired into the couple's home in Horwich, Bolton.

READ MORE: Notorious gangster Lee Amos who ran 'Gooch gang' dies in prison

READ MORE: Police thought they were dealing with a burglary until they saw inside room

The final incident came hours later, at 1am on Monday February 18, but the aftermath of that would ripple for years. It was the killing of Stephen Baba-Tunde Amos, aged 21, of Longsight, Manchester, shot outside Bexx Bar in Ashton-under-Lyne.

Stephen and a friend were outside the venue when they were the victims of a drive-by shooting. Both had earlier attended a family birthday party and had then taken a taxi to the bar which Stephen knew well, the MEN reports.

There was an altercation inside and several shots were fired from a handgun while both men were standing at the entrance. Stephen was killed by a single shot to the chest, while his friend survived, despite being seriously injured.

The suspects fled in a stolen Mitsubishi Space Star hatchback, taken from Heaton Moor in Stockport. More than 100 people had been leaving the club after last orders when the attack took place.

Stephen was a celebrated DJ, making his name in Manchester's Havana Bar and The World club in Warrington. He has also been on the books of Manchester City as a youth.

Colin Joyce (left) and Lee Amos were convicted in 2009
Stephen Amos was shot dead outside the Bexx Bar

Det Supt Kevin Duffy said: ''We have yet to establish a motive for this murder and when we do, it will hopefully lead us to those responsible. It is always terribly sad when someone so young is killed and in this case, so much more so when it is clear that he had such a promising future.''

The murder had hit Stephen's family, including his brother Lee, hard. At the time Lee was in jail.

He and fellow gangster Colin "Piggy" Joyce had carved fearsome reputations as members of the Young Gooch Close gang. The pair's names kept cropping up in murder investigations involving gun crime, as they stole drugs and money from other villains.

A year before Stephen's murder, in 2001, Amos and Joyce were caught when armed police raided a house in Moss Side. They found six members of the Gooch gang, including Joyce and Amos, and a stash of weapons including a Skorpion machine gun. Joyce was jailed for nine years, with Amos was also locked up.

While inside, Joyce and Amos plotted revenge for Stephen's murder. When they were finally released on parole there was a dramatic escalation in gun crime, which culminated in two deadly drive-by shootings.

Young dad Ucal Chin, 23, was shot dead by Joyce in a daylight ambush at Anson Road, Longsight, in June 2007. Joyce pulled up in an Audi and peppered Ucal's car with 9mm bullets from a converted Russian Baikal self-loading pistol.

Ucal was killed because Amos and Joyce believed he was a member of the Longsight Crew (LSC).

Weeks later, Joyce and Amos along with three other senior gang members - Aeeron Campbell, then 25, of Withington, Ricardo Williams, then 26, of Moston, and Narada Williams, then 28, of Fallowfield - targeted Ucal's wake in a drive-by shooting which claimed the life of Tyrone Gilbert, 24, and injured another man.

Tyrone died after a bullet from a revolver hit him in the chest.

Tyrone Gilbert was the second young man his family had lost to gun violence. His brother, Marcus Greenidge, had been gunned down in a row between rival gangs the Longsight Crew and the Pitt Bull Crew seven years earlier.

Gilbert himself had been linked to the Longsight Crew following a showdown between the gang and Moss Side's Gooch Close crew in Manchester Royal Infirmary. But after serving a 20-month sentence for affray he tried to build a new life as a family man.

Amos believed that the Longsight Crew, a splinter group from the Doddington gang, the arch rivals of the Gooch, were responsible for Stephen's murder, and he was right. In 2003, Richard Solomon, then a 26-year-old member of the Longsight Crew from Hulme, was convicted of the murder of Stephen Amos and the attempted murder of another man in 2003.

The trial judge said the case reflected the "chilling reality of the lifestyle of the young in south Manchester".

Solomon was given a life sentence for murder and 13 years for attempted murder to run concurrently, and later convicted of a separate charge of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and sentenced to another 12 years to run concurrently.

But the justice provided by the law wasn't enough for Amos and the time he spent in prison did little to deter him from the gang life. There was nothing to suggest that either Ucal or Tyrone had anything to do with his brother's killing.

But Amos was simply out for revenge against anyone he could associate with the LSC. When Amos returned to the streets he found a vacuum of leadership in south Manchester's Gooch gang.

He and Joyce were now no longer the young tearaways, but the older guys who younger gang members tragically looked up to. And they were determined to settle old scores, especially with the Longsight Crew.

The Longsight Crew had been set up in the 1990s by Julian Bell in memory of his brother Orville, who had been gunned down at the wheel of his car aged just 17, by members of the Gooch gang.

Bell had received £500,000 in compensation after a motorcycle accident left him paralysed from the waist down. Using his wealth he ruled through a mixture of fear and reward, buying the loyalty and respect of those around him with gems, Rolex watches and bulletproof jackets.

He built up an arsenal of weapons including a Mac 10 and Uzi sub-machine guns. Rivals and anyone else who stepped out of line were ruthlessly punished. He recruited Richard Solomon to act as his minder, the same man who would go on to kill Lee Amos' brother, Stephen.

Bell, who was last jailed in 2018 for drug dealing offences in Gloucestershire, was one of the most feared gangsters in Greater Manchester - as the Longsight Crew went to war with rival drug dealers in the Pitt Bull Crew, Doddington Gang and Gooch Close Gang, with innocents caught in the crossfire. Between 1999 and 2004 at least 26 killings were linked to the four gangs.

In March 2004 Bell was jailed for 20 years at Manchester Crown Court for conspiracy to supply heroin and conspiracy to possess firearms. He was in jail when Amos and Joyce got out of prison with a determination to rekindle old rivalries.

But after the attacks which claimed the lives of Tyrone Gilbert and Ucal Chin, GMP launched what was then its biggest ever organised crime investigation.

Detectives began unravelling the Gooch Gang from Joyce and Amos at the top - right down to the street dealers. Armed with evidence from former gang insiders and an evidential jigsaw of 80,000 mobile phone calls and texts they were able to end Amos and Joyce's reign of terror.

In April 2009, following a six month trial at Liverpool Crown Court, in which six former Gooch associates testified against them, Joyce and Amos were convicted of murder, attempted murder and possessing firearms in relation to the deaths of Ucal Chin and Tyrone Gilbert.

Joyce, then 29, was jailed for life and told he would serve a minimum of 39 years, while Amos was banged up for 35 years. At the time DC Rod Carter told the MEN: "Lee Amos is the Gooch's best weapon.

"Lee is calm and collected. He has the capability to do what most people would find abhorrent and move on."

Tattooed on Lee Amos' arms were the words "can't stop, won't stop". The same words were inscribed on his brother Stephen's gravestone.

The tragic, senseless cycle which led to the final period of custody for Lee - and his death behind bars at the age of 48 - was fuelled by the murder of his brother.

G4S confirmed that Amos passed away at HMP Oakwood and an investigation is underway. A HMP Oakwood spokesperson said: "A prisoner at HMP Oakwood, Mr Lee Amos, aged 48, passed away on Monday, 22 April 2024.

"His next of kin have been informed and a Family Liaison Officer has been appointed. As with all deaths in prison, this will be investigated by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman."

Receive newsletters with the latest news, sport and what's on updates from the Liverpool ECHO by signing up here