Coked up dad and one of Liverpool’s most extraordinary trials

On the morning of Wednesday, April 2, 2014, a young dad was at home with his wife and newborn son in Everton.

As they sat in their living room, a car slowly drove past the family's house and the driver peered in through their windows.

Understandably suspicious, Craig Dures got in his partner's car and followed after the silver Ford Focus, to try and speak to the man inside.

Returning home to Lance Close in a matter of minutes, he told his wife she had to leave. Moments later, gunfire erupted in the street.

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Craig said he went to speak to his father – Karl Dures senior – who lived next door, only to hear shouting and see the same man outside.

That man produced a gun and fired five times – shooting Craig in the face and his dad in the left leg. Miraculously, Craig survived.

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Detectives soon learned the victims were targeted because of the actions of Craig's brother, Karl Dures junior, who later ended up behind bars himself.

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An extraordinary trial followed – in which the jury heard troubled Karl Jnr was the dad of two of X Factor singer Rebecca Ferguson's children.

He was jailed again last week, after glassing a man in a cocaine-fuelled nightclub attack, which left his victim scarred for life.

Here we take a look back at the last time the dad-of-three's cocaine habit brought misery to others, including loved ones who nearly paid the ultimate price.

Karl Dures, then 29, was arrested the day after his family were shot

The alleged gunman and a bullet through the nose

Six months after the double shooting, David Byron, then 37, of Longfellow Close, Kirkby, was charged over the brutal attack.

At a trial in March 2015, he denied the attempted murder of Craig, wounding him with intent, and wounding Karl snr with intent.

Prosecutors alleged Byron was the man in the silver Focus and that after following him, Craig, 27, had pulled up alongside his car, at around 11.15am.

They said "aggressive" Byron told Craig his 29-year-old brother, Karl jnr, owed him money and that it needed "sorting out".

Craig and Karl snr, 51, claimed they didn't know Byron, who they said later returned, parked his car, then got out and shot Craig in the face.

Martin Reid, prosecuting, said: "The bullet entered through his nose and lodged in front of the bones at the base of his skull.

"Had the bullet been just 1cm to the right, the result of the shooting could have been life threatening."

Police scene in Everton as Landseer Road approach to Lance Close is sealed off by police after shooting in April 2014.

"There's gonna be bad trouble babe"

As Craig lay injured, the shooter drove off, but first rolled backwards, and crashed into a stationary Fiat Panda.

Prosecutors would later argue this formed part of key evidence, which showed the gunman was in fact Byron.

They said CCTV cameras at Westvale service station in Kirkby captured a silver Ford Focus driving onto its forecourt three days previously.

Mr Reid said Byron went into the shop and topped up the credit on a Nokia phone.

Four phone numbers were attributed to Byron and cell site analysis showed some of these devices in the area at the time of the shooting.

At 11.24am on April 2, one number sent a text to Byron's girlfriend, Maria Symes, which read: "There's gonna be bad trouble babe."

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Mr Reid said Byron abandoned this phone after the shooting, before exchanging WhatsApp messages with his girlfriend.

He said Byron told her he was "being sorted by the lads" and not to ring his other phone, and his girlfriend responded "feel like I want to throw up" and "Liverpool is finished hate it so much".

Byron activated a new number at 8pm, which was located near New Pale Farm Prescot, where his wife's silver Focus was later found by police.

By 9.50pm this number was in Manchester, where Byron was arrested by officers on April 4.

That day his Nokia phone was found in Grant Gardens, Everton, a short distance from Lance Close.

Grant Gardens in Everton

A debt collector for drug dealers – but not a hired gun

When giving evidence, Byron admitted working as a debt collector for "high end" drug dealers and organised gangs.

Byron said Karl jnr sold drugs, but his debts were "spiralling out of control", and had reached £237,000.

He said he was called in as an "intermediary" and met with Karl jnr and Karl snr on multiple occasions, to set up a "payment plan".

Byron said they had a meeting at Jumbo Cafe in Priory Road, Anfield on December 13, 2013, with three other people he wouldn't name.

He said during the meeting Karl jnr was lying to a man he owed money to and as a result "took a bit of a beating".

Byron said: "It was three or four punches, a couple of kicks. He was on the floor bleeding from his face."

Rebecca Ferguson (left) and with pictured with her ex-boyfriend, Karl Dures

"We won't think twice about blowing your mother's f***ing head off"

Byron said Karl jnr was getting "work" – drugs – off one group and using the money he made selling the drugs to pay other gangsters.

He told the jury: "He was robbing Peter to pay Paul."

Byron said Karl jnr ran up the £237,000 debt with men based in Manchester.

He said they went together to meet the group and Karl jnr was told: "Don’t f*** around with our money because we won't think twice about blowing your mother's f***ing head off."

Byron said he ended up becoming friends with Karl jnr and they went out together for drinks.

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He claimed he had even helped him with personal matters involving his former partner Rebecca Ferguson, and a Garston man called Tom Field.

Karl jnr and Miss Ferguson split before she appeared on X Factor in 2010, but remained close, with the singer describing Karl jnr as an "active father".

The defendant said Mr Field had a girlfriend but was sleeping with Miss Ferguson, and threatened her when she became pregnant.

Byron said he spoke to the singer on the phone and was aware of a meeting when Mr Field demanded she have an abortion – a situation which he helped to resolve, before she had the baby.

The Old Campfield pub in Heyworth Street

"There was nothing ever said to me that they were going to hurt anyone"

Byron said Karl jnr became harder to contact leading up to April 2, and he would speak to him via a friend called Brad Harrington.

He said he was under "intense pressure" to get Karl jnr to pay his debts.

Byron said he had three mobile phones with him when he drove to Everton Brow in his wife's silver Focus.

He said "not once" was he actually in Landseer Road or Lance Close, but accepted cell site evidence showed he was in the area.

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Byron explained how he met with five gangsters from Manchester who were owed the money at May Duncans pub in Heyworth Street.

He said he didn't want to reveal the home addresses of the Dures brothers and their mum, but was pressured into doing so by the gang.

But he insisted: "There was nothing ever said to me that they were going to hurt anyone."

He said this was why he sent the text to his girlfriend about "bad trouble" and headed to the Campfield pub in Heyworth Street to meet Mr Harrington and see if a payment could be made.

Lance Close is sealed off by police after shooting in April 2014.

"If I was to shoot them two people I would be wide open to owing their money"

Byron said when he left the pub, he accidentally left behind – not "ditched" – the Nokia found by police.

He denied colliding with the Punto in Landseer Road and said he went to his brother's house in West Derby.

Byron said his brother bought him a new "business" phone and he then met a friend in Prescot to lend him some money.

He said a text to his girlfriend saying "I've moved everyone out" was a reference to his family, in case they were targeted.

And he claimed a message that said "maybe a little bit bird" referred to him possibly going to jail for passing on the Dures' addresses.

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Byron said he left the Focus at his brother's house for a friend to move and had no idea how it came to be found on the farm.

He claimed it was a coincidence that his wife's silver Focus had damage consistent with that sustained by the gunman's silver Focus, when it hit the Punto.

Asked if he shot the victims by his barrister, Damian Nolan, he said "that absolutely did not happen" and wouldn't make any sense.

Byron said: "To be brutally honest, if I was to shoot them two people I would be wide open to owing their money."

Lance Close in Everton was the scene of a double shooting in April 2014

"Lies" and a "set up"

Byron accused Karl snr and Craig Dures of lying to the jury when they gave evidence, by saying they didn't know him.

He said: "There is every reason I could be set up for this crime because I have told people where they live and then they have been shot.

"I believe I am being set up. People are lying.

"They know full well who shot them. It's common knowledge around the city.

"I was not the gunman."

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The verdict

After an eight-day trial and around two hours of deliberations, the jury unanimously found Byron not guilty of all charges.

His family, some of whom had been crying in the public gallery, clapped and cheered as he was acquitted.

Judge Clement Goldstone, QC, ordered them to leave the courtroom as they whooped and hollered.

Byron – standing defiant in the dock – repeatedly screamed "yes" and "thank you very much".

However, more controversy was to follow after the 12 jurors left the courtroom, when Judge Goldstone – then the city's top judge – had serious questions for the prosecution and police.

Judge Clement Goldstone, QC, the former Honorary Recorder of Liverpool

Key evidence "totally ignored by the Crown"

The Honorary Recorder of Liverpool said he had asked Merseyside Police why Byron's wife's Focus was not subject to gunshot residue testing.

He said he received a report which revealed it had been valeted – with plastic sheets placed over its seats – and "comprehensively cleaned".

The judge said: "There was abundant evidence that this car had been doctored, for want of a better expression, before it was located. That would have been extremely compelling evidence to link the car to the shooting.

"It would have enabled the Crown to overcome the defence which they had to acknowledge about the distance between the point where the witnesses were saying the car had rolled from, and the point where the other car was parked, which made it difficult for the Crown to rebut the reply that had this car been responsible for impacting with the other car, one would have expected more damage.

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"Are you in a position to explain how fundamental basic findings were ignored and not served as evidence in the case, quite apart from the decision not to subject the car to gunshot residue testing?"

Mr Reid said he had only just found out about the evidence and the findings did not appear in any unused material schedule.

Judge Goldstone replied: "It shouldn't have been unused. It should have been served in spades as an integral and very important part of the prosecution case.

"The public are entitled to know why this piece of potentially valuable evidence was totally ignored by the Crown."

Karl Dures, now 35, is back behind bars

Drugs factory in a garden shed

Two months after Byron was cleared of shooting his family, it was Karl jnr who found himself standing in the dock.

He had contacted the police after the shooting, which resulted in officers visiting his home the next day.

They found nearly £500 of cocaine bagged up in his kitchen and more than £8,000 of amphetamines and a hydraulic drugs press in his garden shed. There was also evidence he had been storing amphetamines in his freezer.

He wasn't at home, but rang police after his mum was arrested at the scene, and admitted possessing Class A and B drugs with intent to supply.

Jason Smith, defending, said the Dures family had cooperated fully with the police and Karl jnr had effectively brought the prosecution upon himself.

Mr Smith said: "This is a family who had their lives torn apart in April of last year because of serious injuries – life-threatening injuries."

He said Karl jnr – who started using cocaine recreationally then fell into ever increasing debt – had been forced to move away from the area.

The lawyer said: "The threats were carried out to members of his family and he lives daily with the fear that the next person to be shot will be him."

He said his client would constantly have to "look over his shoulder" in jail, adding: "This defendant has genuine fear that if he is sent to custody it won't be people who he owes a few hundred or a few thousand pounds after him, it will be those who organised the shooting of his brother and father, those who have labelled his family as grasses and informants, those who want justice to be done as they see it, to those who informed on friends and associates."

Karl jnr – said to have been paying off his debts to ensure his family had "one less problem to worry about" – was jailed for 28 months.

Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Green

"Issues" identified

In the wake of Byron's acquittal, Merseyside Police confirmed a review was being launched into the investigation.

Three years later, in March 2018, the force's Serious Crime Review Unit published its findings.

Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Green, Head of Matrix Serious Organised Crime Investigations, admitted "issues" had been identified.

He said: "We are fully committed to ensuring that we maximise all evidential opportunities and put the best possible evidence before the courts in all cases.

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"In this instance, issues were identified and a number of recommendations were put in place to ensure that our processes are completely robust and no such opportunities are missed to secure convictions in the future.

"These recommendations include an increase in periodic reviews of investigations to provide greater quality assurance, mentoring and reassurance, and increased scrutiny of logs kept as part of the investigation."

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A spokesman for Byron told the ECHO: "We believe it would be inappropriate to comment upon the results of an internal police review."

No one else has ever been charged over the shooting.