THREE men have been jailed for a total of more than 35 years after a Prestwich dad was blasted in the abdomen with a shotgun during a break-in at his home.

The Honorary Recorder of Bolton, Judge Timothy Clayson, was told that 50-year-old John Louden is recovering from his injuries but shotgun pellets remain in his torso, some close to his heart.

Dominic Burke, Steven O'Donnell and Anthony Ward stood in the dock at Bolton Crown Court as Judge Clayson told them he regarded each of them as "dangerous" and therefore they will have to serve two thirds of their prison terms before being eligible to apply for parole.

Dominic Burke, aged 21, was the gunman who loaded a shotgun, used the butt of it to smash a rear patio window at Mr Louden's Glebelands Road, Prestwich home on the evening of November 27 last year before rushing upstairs with his brother, Anthony Ward and shooting his victim as he confronted them outside his bedroom.

Burke, of Whinfell Drive, Middleton, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with a further three years on licence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, intentionally causing grievous bodily harm and possessing a firearm.

A jury had been shown CCTV of Burke, shortly before the break in, loading the shotgun on the drive and then taking a shooting stance, aiming it at the front door.

After the break in he fired it at Mr Louden who rushed towards them after finding intruders at the top of his stairs.

Peter Glenser QC, defending Burke, said Mrs Louden had not reacted as the intruders expected and Burke had squeezed the trigger in as "instinctive reaction".

"This was just an appalling set of circumstances caused by their own stupidity," said Mr Glenser.

"It could very easily have resulted in death," Judge Clayson told Burke.

"Although you were younger than O'Donnell it was you that went into the house having loaded the gun anticipating a possible confrontation."

No motive for the break-in has been established although the defendants claimed, during a six week trial, that they believed cannabis was being grown at the house and wanted to steal it.

O'Donnell, aged 25, of Carr Avenue, Prestwich, was said to have been behind the crime, organising it in conjunction with Burke, Ward and others.

Although he did not enter the house, O'Donnell, the only one of the gang who knew Mr Louden, drove his co-defendants to the property and he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.

"I am entirely satisfied you knew all the details of the plan, including that a loaded, sawn-off shotgun was to be taken into the house," said Judge Clayson, jailing O'Donnell for 11 years, with a further three years on licence.

"You knew there was a high risk of it being discharged and serious injury being the outcome."

Ward, aged 29, of Braithwaite Road, Middleton, was convicted by a jury of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary and jailed for nine and a half years, plus two years on licence.

Stephen Meadowcroft, defending Ward, told Judge Clayson that Ward has learning and intellectual difficulties, is unable to read and write, and had been exploited by others.

But Judge Clayson disagreed, telling Ward: "You took a full and fully informed part in this particular serious offence."

All three defendants, along with Matthew Moss, aged 28, of Rydal Avenue, Chadderton, had been on trial for conspiracy to commit murder, but the jury found them not guilty of that charge.

The court heard that attempts have been made to contact Mr Louden for him to provide a victim impact statement, but non has been forthcoming.

Following the sentencing, Judge Clayson paid tribute to the officers investigating the case including DC Simon Jones, DC Nicola Kirkman and analyst Richard Hopkins.

"They worked tirelessly in a determined effort to get to the bottom of this case. It was a remarkable effort in my view. They should be commended," said the judge.

Speaking after the sentencing DC Simon Jones, from Bury CID, said: “An innocent father was at home waiting to leave to collect his children when he was faced with the terrifying image of a gun-wielding intruder.
“Despite being shot and in unimaginable pain, he somehow managed to lock himself away and alert emergency services. From the moment this awful attack took place, through to sentencing today, he has shown immense courage and bravery.
“At the time, this incident understandably sent shockwaves through the community and it was our job to make sure we found the men responsible, and as soon as possible.
“This has been an extensive investigation where we have trawled through CCTV, phone records and messages, all to pin point their involvement.
“These men have now been held to account for their reckless actions and I hope this provides some relief to the victim and his family.”