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‘Something bad could happen’: Man accused of Mark Short murder pulled gun on Denton landlord, court hears

By Dominic Claeys-Jackson and Rob Lowson

Damien Gorman, one of six co-accused of the murder of young dad Mark Short, pulled a handgun on a Denton pub landlord who barred him, Preston Crown Court heard yesterday.

In the incident, on May 2 2004, Gorman allegedly claimed he would ‘hurt’ the licensees of the Silver Springs, Denton, unless granted entry, before exposing the gun and saying: “Something bad could happen here tonight.”

Gorman, 38, from Glossop, was barred by partners and co-licensees David Doughty and Julie Wilson in December 2003, just months before the confrontation.

The pair, giving evidence, claimed Gorman had attempted entry several times before, and was previously a pub regular.

On the eve of the incident, the court heard, Mr Doughty went outside to talk to Gorman, after he requested ‘a word’ with both licensees.

Mr Doughty instructed his ‘worried’ wife to ‘stay behind the bar’ and refused Gorman entry to the pub, but he entered regardless.

Gorman, Mr Doughty alleged, told him he was ‘making me look a c**t in front of my mates’, before standing two feet from him and pulling a ‘small gun’ from his trousers.

Mr Doughty claimed Gorman told him ‘something bad could happen here tonight’, before putting the gun back in his jacket pocket.

Gorman only left when one of his friends said to him: “This is out of order, come on, we’ve got things to do.”

Ms Wilson told the court she did not see a gun from where she was positioned, but did see ‘something in Gorman’s jumper’.

Mr Doughty and Ms Wilson made formal police statements the following morning at 11am, but retracted them on July 22, with no further action being taken.

In his retraction, Mr Doughty claimed ‘dragging the incident through the courts would reignite the previous problem’, insisting he was ‘under no pressure’ to make his decision.

Gorman’s defence barrister, Ray Wigglesworth QC, suggested the four pints of beer Mr Doughty had allegedly drank before the incident had affected his recollection.

Mr Wigglesworth argued no weapon was produced by Gorman, and the incident was exaggerated given the witness did not notify the police immediately.

However, Mr Doughty denied such accusations, responding angrily: “Were you there? How would you feel to have a gun pulled on you?”

Both witnesses were contacted on January 15 this year to discuss the incident again, but Mr Doughty told police he was ‘not interested’.

He and his wife had been forced to attend the trial today, he claimed, after signing a statement saying he wished not to give evidence.

The evidence was provided in connection with the fatal shooting of Mr Short at the Cotton Tree pub, Droylsden, on May 25 last year.

Dale Cregan, 29, Leon Atkinson, 35, from Ashton-under-Lyne, Luke Livesey, 27, from Hattersley, Ryan Hadfield, 28, from Droylsden, and Matthew James, 33, from Clayton, are charged with his murder, alongside Gorman.

All six co-accused are pleading not guilty to that charge, as well as the attempted murder of John Collins, Ryan Pridding and Michael Belcher.

Mr Short’s father David was killed just months later, in a gun and grenade attack on his Clayton home on August 10.

Cregan, Jermaine Ward, 24, Anthony Wilkinson, 38, from Stalybridge, and Francis Dixon, 37, from Stalybridge, are charged with his murder, with all four defendants pleading not guilty.

The co-accused are also charged with the attempted murder of Sharon Hark on the same day, and a single charge of causing an explosion.

Wilkinson additionally denies the charge of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Mohammed Ali, 32, from Chadderton, is accused of assisting an offender after allegedly helping three of the killers escape to Bradford.

Cregan has already pleaded guilty to the murders of PCs Bone, 32 and Hughes, 23, on September 18.

Prosecutors claim Cregan was already on the run from police in connection with the murders when he lured the policewomen to their deaths.

The trial continues at 11.30am today.

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