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Three jailed after terrifying family feud in Warwickshire

A FEUD between rival traveller families ended in a mass fight during morning rush-hour in which machetes and pick-axe handles left one man millimetres from death with a slash to his neck.

The "utterly terrifying" attack happened after a long-running clash between rival families known as the Black Dohertys and the Brent Parkers. One victim could have died after his throat was cut, missing his carotid artery by just a couple of millimetres, a judge at Warwick Crown Court heard.

Shipston man John Kiely, 40, was part of the Brent Parker gang who launched the revenge attack just yards from the police training centre at Ryton, near Coventry, in October 2018. He fled to Canada but was arrested two years later as he was about to board a ferry at Dover.

Prosecutor Stephen Spence said the attack was a meticulously planned retaliation after an incident at a travellers’ site in Leicestershire. He added: “This took things to a new level because it involved not only extreme levels of violence involving machetes and pick-axe handles, but they had no regard for the lives of their intended victims, and it occurred on a public highway.”

In the ambush, Kiely drove a Jeep with steel reinforcement behind the bumper, turning it into a battering ram. As four members of the Doherty family – including brothers Gerry and Charlie – set off for work towing a flat-bed trailer, they were rammed with such force that the Jeep’s air bags inflated and the tow bar ball ended up embedded in the Jeep.

The Dohertys sped away, but when they tried to head back to the travellers’ site, their way was blocked by the damaged trailer and Jeep. A large number of men, armed with machetes, pick-axe handles and other weapons, piled out of pursuing cars and the Dohertys were subjected to a mass attack. The brawl was seen by people on their way to work and on the school run.

One police officer at the scene said he "could not tell who was a victim and who was an offender", and at one point feared for his own safety as his car was surrounded by men with machetes. He saw a man on his knees, with another man raising a weapon above his head and striking him to the neck, so he drove at the attacker to fend him off.

Charlie Doherty was left with a wound to the back of his head and had ammonia squirted into his face. Gerry Doherty’s throat was cut, with a paramedic saying that if the wound had been "a couple of millimetres either side or deeper, it would have been a fatal injury", said Mr Spence.

One of the attackers was arrested as he tried to hide in the water at nearby Jubilee Fishing Pools, while another was found in a field where, barefoot, he claimed he was on a penance for his father who was dying of cancer. Kiely’s DNA was found on the airbag in the Jeep.

Sarah Forshaw QC, representing Kiely, told the court he knew "there was going to be serious trouble" and added: “He caused the accident at the outset. He concedes that, but what it does mean is that the extreme violence towards Gerry Doherty is something that Mr Kiely was not present at.”

She said Kiely "no longer wishes to have anything to do with the feud" and his family had moved after the Doherty family phoned prisons offering cash rewards to anyone who would attack him in jail.

Kiely, of Darlingscote Road, Shipston, was jailed for ten-and-a-half years alongside fellow defendants Gerry McDonagh, 26, of Southwark, London, and Michael Mongan, 22, of West Drayton. They denied attempted murder but pleaded guilty to an alternative offence of wounding with intent.

Judge Andrew Lockhart QC told them: “You had no regard to the lives of the intended victims, and the whole incident took place on busy pubic roads during the early-morning rush hour, and a number of police officers were also involved and risked their own lives.

“It was a truly frightening event. It almost beggars belief that it would take place on a road in Warwickshire close to the police academy. This scene was utterly terrifying.

“Gerry Doherty received a very serious cut to his neck. That he survived is a matter of huge good fortune.”

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