Teenager jailed for over 12 years for firearm offences

A 17-year-old boy from Liverpool has been deemed “dangerous” by a judge and jailed for shooting another man and firearms offences.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that Joel Harvey, of Croxteth, shot Michael Costello outside a convenience store in the area around 3am on 11 December 2021.

Harvey had spotted Mr Costello at the store shortly before. It’s thought Harvey had a grudge against Mr Costello and meant to “teach him a lesson”.

So, he went home, armed himself with a loaded and lethal self-loading automatic pistol and got another man, who was also armed, to take him back to the shop on the back of an e-bike.

Mr Costello was still there, and Harvey fired a total of three shots at him, leaving him with serious injuries to both of his legs.

Harvey was arrested on 27 January 2022 and interviewed in connection with this incident and released on bail as investigations continued.

On 16 January 2022, he was also arrested and questioned as his DNA was discovered on cartridges used in an incident where another man was shot in the Old Swan area of Liverpool.

Despite all of this, on the afternoon of 18 June 2022, Harvey collected the same firearm with which he’d shot Mr Costello and headed towards an address in Croxteth, wearing a balaclava.

The gun was loaded with 10 rounds of ammunition and its thought he was, again, looking to settle another score with potentially fatal consequences.

Luckily, Merseyside Police stormed the address while Harvey was there and found him, three hours later, hiding in the roof space of the house.

He was arrested and charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, two counts of possession of ammunition with intent to endanger life and one count of possession of ammunition without a firearms certificate.

He denied all counts. He was found guilty after trial at Liverpool Crown Court on 15 December 2022.

On 25 January 2023 at Liverpool Crown Court, he was given a 15-year sentence. He must serve 12 and a half years in prison and a further two and a half years on licence. Judge Clement Goldstone also deemed Harvey to be “dangerous”.

Sentencing Harvey, Judge Goldstone said, “The facts of this case would make staggering reading if you were an adult, but it defies belief, even in these times of unparalleled street violence, that someone who was only 16 years old when these offences were committed should be so steeped in gangland culture and be prepared to engage in open warfare on the streets of this great city without any concern or regard for the safety of its citizens.”

Senior Crown Prosecutor, Nicola Wyn Williams, of CPS Mersey Cheshire’s Complex Casework Unit, said, “Joel Harvey is a dangerous criminal who is willing to carry a loaded gun through the streets to carry out some sort of revenge on people he considers himself to have a grudge against.

“He behaved in this way on two separate occasions, the second time while he was already under investigation for similar offences.  It’s clear that Joel Harvey considers himself to be above the law and, despite his age, has no concern for the lives or safety of others.

“He has been deemed dangerous and been given a long sentence. This has been a difficult case for the Crown Prosecution Service, and we would like to thank Merseyside Police for their help in bringing this youth, who is still a child in law, to justice.”

After the sentencing Detective Inspector John Mullen said, “Harvey was involved in unparalleled street violence and organised crime at the age of just 16. Had our officers not arrested Harvey he could have used this lethal weapon, which was loaded, to seriously harm others in Liverpool with potentially fatal consequences.

“Harvey showed complete disregard for the safety of those in our community and crossed the line in every sense by shooting a man on a public street. He will now spend a considerable amount of time in custody, reflecting on his reckless actions.

“I hope the presence and bravery of our armed officers during this incident shows we will leave no stone unturned in our relentless pursuit to remove firearms and those who use them from our streets.”

“We sadly know the devastating consequences of gun crime, not only on victims and their families but also in our wider communities.

“Our officers are carrying out warrants like this, as well as land searches and stop checks, every single day to disrupt such callous criminals who store, carry and use firearms.

“This also supports the work we do with the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership – our region’s response to knife crime, gun crime and homicide. By offering young people positive activities and mentoring, our officers can support the sustainable, public health approach needed to reduce any and all forms of serious violence.

Community Policing Inspector Andrew Lloyd said, “These warrants are part of our ongoing work into targeting those involved in organised crime responsible for spreading misery across Liverpool and beyond.

“It will be a relief for all of those living in the area who could have been harmed by Harvey’s criminality to see such a positive result at court.

“We hope this type of intervention will prevent any further crimes in the area and reiterates that firearms have no place in our communities.”

Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson also pledged to work alongside Merseyside Police and said, “We have seen from recent tragic events in our city the devastating impact of firearms and other weapons. We will continue to work alongside Merseyside Police, other partners and our communities to break the cycle of violent crime that destroys innocent lives.”

Images: Merseyside Police

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