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Blackpool drugs war leads to man's death

|News, Violent crime

Two men have today been found guilty of murder and two others of manslaughter after carrying out a revenge attack following a drugs dispute in April this year.

Daniel Cunningham, 33, from Blackpool, along with Lee Clarke, 33, and David Bond, 33, from Merseyside, attacked John Hutchinson, 44, at his friend's home in Blackpool on 10 April 2023. Darren McCabe, 47, from Blackpool, provided Mr Hutchinson's location to the other men.

In the early hours of 10 April, Mr Hutchinson, along with three acquaintances, attended the home of Daniel Cunningham in Blackpool armed with a hammer and made off with a significant quantity of drugs.

When Cunningham contacted the police to report an attempted burglary, he claimed money had been demanded from his family, and told them he did not recognise any of the men.

Less than an hour later, Cunningham started putting in motion a plan to retrieve the stolen drugs. He messaged Lee Clarke identifying John Hutchinson as one of the armed robbers and tasked McCabe with tracking down Hutchinson and the drugs. Clarke and Bond travelled from Merseyside to Blackpool to collect Cunningham and McCabe and go to exact revenge and retrieve the drugs.

Shortly before 7pm that day, a neighbour of the address where Mr Hutchinson was staying contacted the police to report three men (Cunningham, Clarke and Bond) breaking into the property. Meanwhile McCabe was waiting in the car outside, having taken them to the address where Mr Hutchinson was. McCabe was later seen counting cash at the New Road Inn pub - his payment for locating Mr Hutchinson and the drugs.

When police arrived, they found Mr Hutchinson with serious injuries, having been attacked with a hammer and having had his head stamped on. He refused to co-operate with officers. By 8.40pm Mr Hutchinson had collapsed and was in cardiac arrest, he died in hospital a short time later. The cause of death was injury to his spleen and head, sustained during the attack.

Over the following days, Cunningham, Clarke, Bond and McCabe were identified as the perpetrators and arrested in their respective home towns.

Today Lee Clarke and David Bond were found guilty of murder. Daniel Cunningham and Darren McCabe were found guilty of manslaughter. They will be sentenced in January 2024.

Joanna White, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West said: "This case is an example of the dangerous world of drug dealing. Daniel Cunningham, Lee Clarke and David Bond were prepared to go to any lengths, including taking someone's life, to retrieve drugs which had been stolen from their drugs empire.

"They carried out a brutal tit for tat revenge attack which ultimately led to the death of a man. Though Darren McCabe was not part of the physical attack, he had played a significant role in the attack by tracking down Mr Hutchinson and the drugs and accepting a large amount of cash for that service.

"During the trial we proved each man's involvement with telephone evidence showing the planning of the attack and the acknowledgment of what they had done after they found out Mr Hutchinson had died. After careful consideration of that evidence the jury found them guilty of murder and manslaughter.

"The CPS is committed to working with police to disrupt the activities of drug gangs and bring them to justice. Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by the death of Mr Hutchinson."

Notes to editors

  • Darren McCabe's DOB is 07/04/1976
  • Daniel Cunningham's DOB is 16/11/1989
  • Lee Clarke's DOB is 16/03/1990
  • David Bond's DOB is 28/12/1989

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