A trial prosecuted by Phil Bradley QC just before the advent of lockdown saw the defendants finally being sentenced by His Honour Judge Chambers QC at Wolverhampton Crown Court on 3rd September. In passing a life sentence upon the main defendant, the Judge said that the injuries inflicted upon the victim were the worst he had ever seen in a non-homicide case.

Three men were charged with conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm in a vicious assault on the woman, which resulted in life-changing injuries when her face and neck were repeatedly slashed with a knife after being lured to a quiet Oswestry park on the evening of 7th January 2019. Defensive injuries to her wrists were caused when she tried to protect her eyes.

The main defendant, Adam McArdle was part of an Organised Crime Group based in Liverpool, which flooded Class A drugs into Oswestry on the so-called ‘County Lines’ model. His co-defendants (both Oswestry-based drugs dealers) both pleaded guilty to their part in the conspiracy. McArdle contested the charge and was unanimously convicted by a jury in Stafford in March.  

Opening the case to the Jury, Phil Bradley QC (leading Mark Connor of St John’s Buildings) said that the Liverpool gang used Oswestry based drugs users to sell their drugs. The second defendant (LS) and his friend, the third defendant (CK), fell into that category. The 30-year-old victim was hopelessly addicted to Crack Cocaine and Heroin and agreed to sell some of the drugs for LS, but quickly fell into debt after some of the drugs were stolen and (because of her addiction) she consumed some herself.

The Liverpool gang quickly learned of the debt and, on the evening of 7th January, LS telephoned her, telling her to meet him and CK in a local park, known as ‘Shelf-Bank’.  CCTV evidence showed that LS and CK were accompanied by McArdle, whose face was deliberately covered.  Once in the park, McArdle took out a knife and repeatedly slashed the victim’s face. 

Mr Bradley QC told the Jury,

“The multiple wounds inflicted upon the victim were intended to be horrific; they served a dual purpose: First, to punish her for not paying her drugs dues and, second, as a warning to others that similar would befall them if they dared to disrupt the business…  We say that there can be no doubt that Adam McArdle was at Shelf Bank. The ‘third man’, he was there as the enforcer, having travelled from Liverpool to teach the victim a brutal lesson”.  

LS and CK (who were both children at the time of the incident) pleaded guilty to their part in the plan on the first day of trial at Stafford Crown Court, on 2nd March 2020.  At the end of the case against Adam McArdle, Phil Bradley QC told the jury,

“The drugs business (like any other business) is driven by profit.  In order to keep themselves one step away from the law, the upper echelons of this Organised Crime Group used people like LS, CK (and more recently the victim) to peddle the drugs on the ground. But the business was inherently risky: the ‘troops’ on the ground were, by their nature, chaotic and sometimes untrustworthy. And that meant that they sometimes required discipline. This evidence demonstrates that this defendant travelled from Liverpool to serve that purpose”.  

His Honour Judge Chambers QC said 23-year-old McArdle was a “professional criminal” who was so dangerous that a determinate sentence would be insufficient to protect the public. He imposed a life sentence with a minimum term of 8 years.  LS was sentenced to 8 ½ years (for this and other offences) and CK to 5 years.

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