The gunman who fired “three of four shots” into a man’s car while his victim was waiting in a McDonald's drive-thru lane has been cleared of attempted murder.
Liverpool Crown Court heard how David Pugh targeted 21-year-old Adam Caine as the victim was being passed a takeaway meal at the restaurant in Bromborough, Wirral.
Pugh, who was not wearing a mask, approached a black Ford Tourneo, before opening fire in front of a queue of horrified onlookers at Croft Retail Park.
The 32-year-old hit the front seat passenger in the leg, before the driver dropped his food and sped away from the McDonald's collection window.
Police said the shooter then ran off in the direction of an Asda store.
Mr Caine was taken to hospital for treatment following the shocking incident, at around 5.30pm, on Thursday, June 18 last year, reports the Liverpool Echo.
Police launched a CCTV appeal and that Saturday arrested Pugh, of Woolfall Crescent, Huyton, who was charged with attempted murder and possession of a firearm.
James Nolan, 30, of Thomas Drive, Prescot, and James O'Neil, 33, of Leyfield Road, West Derby, were arrested a week later on Saturday, June 27 and also charged with attempted murder.
All three men denied attempted murder at a hearing in September, when Pugh admitted the lesser offence of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent and possession of a firearm.
A trial, estimated to last two weeks, was first listed for December and then re-listed to take place at Liverpool Crown Court this week.
However, at a hearing Nolan also admitted the charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent, while O'Neill pleaded guilty to assisting an offender – a new count added to the indictment.
Simon Christie, prosecuting, said these pleas were acceptable to the Crown Prosecution Service and the remaining charges would be left to lie on the file.
Judge Denis Watson, QC, ordered a pre-sentence report for Pugh, which he said must consider the issue of dangerousness.
If Pugh is found to be a dangerous offender, as defined in law, he will be made subject to an extended sentence.
He will then have to serve at least two thirds of the prison sentence – not half – behind bars, before he is eligible for parole.
The judge said a pre-sentence report for Nolan was not required as the court had already been provided with a psychiatric report.
Judge Watson also ordered a pre-sentence report for O'Neill, but said dangerousness was not a consideration in his case.
He remanded all three men in custody until their sentencing on February 26.
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