A cold-hearted killer who bundled his victim into a van, drove him to an industrial estate and shot him in the back of the head will spend at least 30 years behind bars after a jury found him guilty of murder.
Nathan Daniels was given a life sentence for the execution-style killing of Michael Blake following a trial at Manchester Crown Court.
The murder took place in Westhoughton, just a short distance from its border with Wigan.
Police initially thought they were attending a road accident in Manchester Road but then discovered 28-year-old Mr Blake with gunshot wounds to his head and leg.
He was rushed to hospital but doctors were unable to save him.
The trial heard that Mr Blake was at home in Manchester Road with his partner on the night of November 3 when Daniels, along with accomplices Joe Wilson and Nathan Quigley turned up at the house in a white Ford transit van.
It was very clear from the evidence that Nathan Daniels, Nathan Quigley and Joe Wilson were involved in a joint plan to threaten or harm himJoanna Ingle, prosecuting
He got into the van with them and they drove off to an isolated road on an industrial estate a short distance away and within a few minutes he was shot in the head and the leg.
The trio then returned to Manchester Road and dumped the stricken Mr Blake on the pavement outside his house. Daniels and Wilson drove off while Quigley raised the alarm with Mr Blake’s partner that he was injured.
The emergency services were called but Mr Blake died from his injuries in hospital the following morning.
Quigley, 30, of Cleworth Walk, Hulme, and 26-year-old Wilson, of Romney Way, Stockport, had pleaded guilty to manslaughter at a previous hearing and were handed sentences of seven years and seven and a half years respectively.
During Daniels’s trial the prosecution case was that the killing followed a dispute over drugs or money, and that Daniels was the gunman who deliberately fired the shots at Mr Blake, and was therefore guilty of his murder.
Daniels denied killing him and claimed in his defence that the gun had gone off during a struggle in the back of the van.
Further conspirators were also prosecuted. Brendan Fallon pleaded guilty to assisting an offender by concealing the van at his motor business in Denton following the murder.
John Edwards pleaded guilty to assisting an offender by cleaning the van.
Joanna Ingle from the Crown Prosecution Service’s North West Complex Casework Unit, said: “Michael Blake was taken away from his home at a late hour and shot in the head in the back of a van in an isolated industrial location.
“It was very clear from the evidence that Nathan Daniels, Nathan Quigley and Joe Wilson were involved in a joint plan to threaten or harm him.
“They went to Bolton with the intention of using or threatening violence with the gun that Nathan Daniels was carrying.
“The evidence we presented at court proved that Nathan Daniels took the gun with him and fired the shots that ultimately killed Michael Blake.
“His defence that Michael Blake had the gun and inflicted the wounds on himself during a struggle was simply implausible.
“By piecing together the evidence from witnesses with the forensic evidence, CCTV and telephone cell site data, the police and CPS were able to present to the jury a detailed account of the circumstances that led to Michael Blake’s violent death.
“We have been able to prove beyond doubt that Nathan Daniels is guilty of his murder.
“His accomplices, Nathan Quigley and Joe Wilson have pleaded guilty to his manslaughter. Our thoughts are with Michael Blake’s family and friends during this very difficult time.”
Detective Inspector John Mulvihill of GMP’s Bolton Borough, said: “This was a brutal killing executed by Nathan Daniels who was in dispute with Michael and thus recruited his henchmen Quigley and Wilson.
“As if this wasn’t enough, he armed himself with a loaded handgun and travelled with his allies from Manchester to Bolton, where they plotted to take Michael from his home.”
Shortly after the tragedy, Mr Blake’s family issued a statement which read: “Michael was a wonderful son, brother, friend and father, who would do anything for anyone.”
“He was always happy and smiling, and hardly ever gave his mother any reason to worry. He was always hard working and trying to better himself. He enjoyed keeping himself fit, socialising, being with his friends and enjoying life.
“He had recently bought a new home with his girlfriend and was looking forward to doing his home up and settling down for family life.
“Michael leaves behind his brothers, his mother, partner and young daughter. He will be sadly missed by all.”