Drug lords versus travellers gun battle at Northamptonshire caravan site saw teen shot in face

"They heard sounds like gunshots. Looking out their caravans, the families at the site saw a small army coming down the lanes."

Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 5:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 2:18 pm
One of the damaged caravans in the aftermath of the attack.

"There were vehicles with lamps on, so it was hard to tell how many there were - but it must have been in the region of 30 people."

These were the moments described in court when drug dealers arrived at a Northamptonshire travellers' site to collect on a deal gone wrong.

Over the next 20 minutes caravans were smashed up, a man was beaten bloody and a 17-year-old boy was blasted in the face with a shotgun.

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Families at the Greenfields Travellers Site looked out their caravans to see "a small army" coming down their lane.

Northampton Crown Court heard yesterday (May 1) how it all arose from a cocaine deal gone wrong that ended with a "revenge raid" on the Greenfields Travellers' Site, near Desborough, by a large gang of armed drug enforcers in July 2016.

A total of 13 men have been convicted or have pleaded guilty to their parts in the attack - but the prosecutor, Christopher Donnollan - says the squad may in fact have been made up of some 30 people.

The ringleaders in the attack were named as Nathan Hadfield, 36, from Burton Latimer, and Richard Loveridge, 27, formerly from Ecton Lane, Northampton.

Mr Donnollan said: "This was a revenge raid - either to enforce the drug debt or to show the families not to mess with people such as Hadfield and Loveridge."

Damage to vehicles was consistent with baseball bats, axes and even buckshot from shotguns.

The trouble started on July after one of the families from the travellers' site announced an engagement.

The plan was to head to the Chequered Flag pub in Corby to celebrate - and calls were made to order some cocaine from local dealer Thomas Smith, 27, from Corby.

But when Smith arrived to make the deal, the court heard a large amount of cash he was carrying was stolen off him by a member of one of the families.

Mr Donnollan told the judge: "Smith made a call and the message went back up the line that there had been trouble.

"Hadfield and Loveridge arrived at the scene. There was an attempt by the families to pay back the money - but the demand made by the dealers was not only to recover the cash but take more than was originally stolen.

"In short, the threat was then made by Hadfield that they pay it all off or be 'blown away'."

The families left in their vehicles but almost immediately the drug dealers began to make phone calls.

The court heard how over the next hour a call to arms was effectively made. Evidence showed how the drug dealers began gathering near to the Greenfields site and over at the travellers' site, "barricades" were set up.

Then, at around 11.25pm that night, the attack started.

Photos published by police on the morning after show how caravans had been smashed and cars were badly damaged. Several vehicles even appeared to have been peppered with buckshot from shotguns.

Evidence was heard in the men's trial of how children in the caravans hid under their duvets as the violence broke out.

The prosecution told the court the dealers brought weapons with them - including shotguns, axes and machetes.

But the 13 men's defence teams say DNA proves all the weapons found by police belonged to the families already living on site.

It means, the defence team says, that no-one "will ever know" who shot a 17-year-old boy who stepped out of his caravan square in the face.

Mr Donnallan told the court: "Doctors at Kettering General Hospital fought to save his life in the hour afterwards. They had to remove pellets from his head. They stopped counting after 50."

The 13 men's defence teams say there was no proof that the dealers brought firearms - and say it was more likely the teenager was hit by "friendly fire" in the dark.

The young man has reportedly never fully recovered. He is now blind in one eye and at risk of losing sight in his other. He suffers from chronic pain, tooth damage and wakes up with chest pains as a reminder of the pellets that punctured his lungs.

And, the court heard, in the days while the teenager was recovering in hospital, Hadfield and Loveridge sent the boy's family threatening texts saying that if they did not stop talking to the police there would be more violence.

Now, 13 men are set to be sentenced on Friday (May 3) for the attack by Her Honour Judge Adrienne Lucking.

They are:

Jason Davis, 30, from Ecton Lane Park, Northampton - conspiracy to commit violent disorder

Alfred Davis,44, of Paston Risings, Peterborough - conspiracy to commit violent disorder

Robert Davis, 43, of Finedon Street, Burton Latimer – conspiracy to commit violent disorder

Billy Joe Harrod, 37, of Countess Close, Eaton Socon, Cambridgeshire – conspiracy to commit violent disorder

Nathan Hadfield, 36, of William Street, Burton Latimer - conspiracy to cause GBH and conspiracy to commit violent disorder

John Shane Holmes, 35, of Stevenage, Hertfordshire - conspiracy to commit violent disorder

Fred Holmes, 30, of Stevenage, Hertfordshire - conspiracy to commit violent disorder

Shane Jelley, 31, of Larkwood Close, Kettering - conspiracy to commit GBH and conspiracy to commit violent disorder

Christopher Julian, 34, from Cornwall - conspiracy to commit GBH

Jonathan Kinnell, 36, of Oxford Street, Finedon - conspiracy to commit violent disorder

Richard Loveridge, 27, resident of HMP Woodhill and formerly of Ecton Lane, Northampton - conspiracy to commit GBH and one count of conspiracy to commit violent disorder

Nathan Milne, 40, of Honey Crescent, Kettering – conspiracy to commit violent disorder

Lee Michael Price, 34, of Brington Close, Catworth - conspiracy to commit violent disorder

Thomas Smith, 27, of Osbourne Close, Corby - conspiracy to commit GBH and conspiracy to commit violent disorder