Four Liverpool men have been jailed for the murder of Mark Mason in Rhyl.
James Davies (20) of Stoneycroft will serve at least 25 years in prison after he was found guilty of killing the father-of-two outside a Home Bargains store last October. Jake Melia (21) from Aintree, who pleaded guilty to murder and wounding two other men, will serve at least 22-and-a-half years.
Anthony Baines (30) from Kensington, who ran a drug dealing gang known as the ‘Pensarn Boys’, will serve at least half of a 17 year sentence for manslaughter and six years for wounding, which will run concurrently. Mark Ennis (30) from Walton, will serve half of a 14 year sentence before being released on licence.
Both Baines and Ennis were cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter by a jury at Mold Crown Court at the end of a five-week long trial.
Mr Mason died from 22 stab wounds when he was confronted by the men following an alleged attempted assault at the Cob near Marine Lake. The prosecution said a ‘turf war’ had erupted between rival drugs gangs in Rhyl – Mr Mason had been a member of ‘Marco’s Crew’.
Two other men, Sam Ilidge and Justin Trickett, were also wounded during the incident – Mr Trickett had since died.
Sentencing the men, Mrs Justice Nicola Davies said Mr Mason was the victim of a ”swift and savage” attack. Davies had inflicted the most injuries on a man who was in ”no position to defend himself” but Melia had broken ranks by admitting his guilt.
Baines – the leader of the Pensarn Boys – was described as an ”intelligent man” at the head of a drugs enterprise who had earned over £7,000 a week. Ennis was one of his street dealers.
In a statement read to court on Wednesday, Mr Mason’s mother and daughter said he was a ”bright and talented artist” with a ”real gentleness” and a ”uncommon decency”. He had overcome a heroin addiction twice and the family worried that he would die of drugs but never thought he would be murdered.
After sentencing, the Crown Prosecution Service said drug dealing had been the ”catalyst” for the crime and the case highlighted ”how damaging to the community this illegal activity continues to be”. Iwan Davies added the attack had been carried out in a public area with no concern for those who may have seen it.
North Wales Police described the defendants as ”dangerous, manipulative and violent” men who preyed on the vulnerability of others in Rhyl to form an ”established and elaborate drug supply network”.
Detective Superintendent Iestyn Davies, who led the murder investigation, said: ”Mark Mason, the victim had himself been involved in drug supply in the Rhyl area for some time and was to pay the ultimate price for this.”
”When a feud broke out between two rival drug supply gangs the four defendants decided to deal with Mark Mason in the most violent means possible. This is a truly sad case which illustrates the dangers of becoming involved in not only drug taking but drug dealing criminality.”