CRIME gang members who fired at a house in a Bolton street tried to frame a rival for the shooting.

Warrington crime boss Leon Cullen was involved in dispute with Craig Millington after they had both been involved with the same woman.

And after shots were fired at the windows and door of a house in Hilden Street, Bolton, on September 9, 2019, his associates planted the Luger pistol and cocaine in Millington's car and tipped off police.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Cullen is out of the country but several others have pleaded guilty to involvement with the conspiracy.

Two men, Andrew Potter, aged 36, of Thelwall Road, Grappenhall, Warrington, and Stuart Shaw, aged 35, of McKee Avenue, Warrington, who deny involvement, have gone on trial accused of possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and perverting the course of public justice.

Andrew Smith, prosecuting, told how CCTV captured a Mercedes, stolen from a David Lloyd gym in Litchfield, driving along Hilden Street then, while Andrew Johannesson waited in the vehicle, Shawn O'Malley and Lewis Sinclair, dressed in black clothing and with faces covered walked "casually" towards number 75.

"Sinclair then stopped at the gateway and the footage shows him taking deliberate aim and firing six shots at the windows and doors," said Mr Smith.

Johannesson was fitted with an electronic tag at the time which showed him in the vicinity, as was Sinclair's mobile phone.

A jury heard how the trio dumped the car in Leigh and transferred to a BMW before driving back to Johannesson's home in Gaskell Street, St Helens.

Evidence linking Sinclair and O'Malley to the crime was discovered when Lee Steadman crashed the stolen Mercedes they had used and Sinclair's DNA was recovered from saliva on a stocking left inside the vehicle and his and O'Malley's DNA was found on a glove.

Potter is alleged to have been aware that the shooting was to take place and had kept hold of O'Malley's mobile at the time to try and distance him from it. The court was told that Potter admits he had the phone but claims it was because they used it for drug dealing.

Mr Smith said Shaw became involved by passing messages between Cullen and Millington.

On the afternoon of October 4 Millington attended a meeting with others near the Poplar's Pub on Cotswold Road, Warrington.

But a short time later CCTV showed a man walking to a phone box near Shaw's then Ulleswater Avenue home and an anonymous 999 call was made to police.

"The caller said that that he was a relative of Craig Millington and claimed that he had just been with him and had seen a large package of cocaine and a gun being placed into the boot of Craig Millington’s car," said Mr Smith.

"The caller went on to suggest that Craig Millington was in dispute with a Leon Cullen and that he was going to shoot the next person that he saw.

"Unsurprisingly police acted immediately."

Millington's girlfriend made him aware that police were looking for him and so he flagged down a passing police car.

"When the police told him the purpose of their search, he immediately said that anything they found must have been planted," said Mr Smith.

Under the driver's seat officers found a package, wrapped in black tape, which contained low purity cocaine and the Luger pistol loaded with four rounds of ammunition.

Forensic experts matched it to the weapon used in the Hilden Street shooting and no links were found with Millington.

"This was Cullen, using his trusted friends and associates, to carry out a deliberate act of retribution designed to leave Millington in the serious position of being in possession of a lethal firearm and class A controlled drugs when stopped by the police," said Mr Smith.

Johannesson, aged 38, and Lewis Sinclair, aged 38, of Hazel Walk, Partington had both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent cause fear of violence and conspiracy to commit burglary. Shawn O'Malley, aged 33, of no fixed address, has admitted conspiracy to possess a firearm and perverting the course of justice. Lee Steadman, aged 37, of Spark Road, Manchester, has pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, driving whilst banned and conspiracy to commit burglary and O'Malley's girlfriend, Annie Webster, aged 25, of Cumberland Street, Warrington, has admitted handling criminal property.

The trial continues.