Two armed thugs who carried out the “public execution” of a father of two were found guilty today of murder.
Patrick Boyle, 26, was shot to death in a Huyton cul-de-sac last summer. Prosecutors said Rueben Murphy was the gunman on an electric bike who showed “mercy” to his victim, after arguing with a Boyle associate earlier that day.
Confessed drug dealer Murphy said that at the time Boyle was shot to death, he was in a back garden in another part of Huyton, “out of my head in ket”. The 26-year-old denied knowing or shooting Mr Boyle, insisting: “He may have sold drugs in the past, but I’m not a murderer.”
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Prosecutors argued that Murphy’s friend, Ben Doyle, was an “accessory” to the murder and helped plan the attack. Doyle, 24, claimed the murder was committed by a mystery man, whom he declined to name because he feared “retaliation” and was not a “snitch”. A jury today found both men guilty of murder, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, and possession of ammunition with intent to endanger life. Both defendants stood up and left the dock as the verdicts were read to the court.
The judge, the Hon. Mr. Justice Morris, offered Peter Killen and John Jones, QC, time for the defendants to return to the bench, but both refused. Judge Morris said: “Mr. Jones and Mr. Killen, you will note that your clients have been absent from the dock. Would you like a moment to return to the dock?
Mr. Jones replied, “No, I don’t think so.” When giving evidence at Liverpool Crown Court, Murphy complained that Ian Unsworth, QC, who was prosecuting, was talking to him “like a piece of shit” and was “out of line” for accusing him of lying to the jury. But during the seven-week trial, jurors heard CCTV and forensic evidence implicating both Murphy and Doyle.
The victim was shot twice in Newway off Lordens Road just before 6pm on Thursday July 1 last year. Prosecutors said Lyme Grove in Huyton, where Doyle lived, was “a center for the launch of the fatal attack”. Murphy said he used to go to the backyard of a “vacant house” next door to Doyle’s house to smoke cannabis and snort ketamine. He told the jury that he got into an argument with Frazer Brown, an associate of Boyle’s, on that street around 12:40 p.m.
He said this was because Mr. Brown owed him money for an old cannabis debt and “got on his nerves” when he went to prison. Murphy said that Mr. Brown chased him with a fence panel, before Doyle came out and told Mr. Brown to “fuck off.” Prosecutors suggested after the argument that the two men arranged to obtain a loaded gun and a blue and white Sur-On electric bicycle. They said the bike, now partially disguised “in black garbage bags,” left the backyard gate of a property two houses from Doyle’s home at 5:40 p.m.
It was alleged that Doyle was on the bike and was soon joined by Murphy, who became separated from his partner and used the bike to travel to Newway and shoot Mr. Boyle, just after 5:56 p.m. The jury saw footage of the gunman masked, wearing black gloves, and then headed to Barkbeth Road, where Murphy lived at the time, and walked away from the camera for about eight minutes.
Security cameras showed the cyclist, no longer wearing gloves and the dark material wrapped around the bike no longer visible, then making his way to Lyme Grove, where he arrived at 6:08 p.m. and spoke to Doyle. The bicyclist went through the back garden gate at 6:09 p.m., and seconds later, Murphy was said to have emerged.
Murphy claimed that he did not get on an electric bike that day. He told the jury that the man claiming to be him was “taller and thinner” and was wearing different clothes. Police found a pair of gloves on top of a kitchen cabinet at Murphy’s home on July 6. The left glove revealed gunshot residue (GSR), which was a match for GSR inside two cartridges found at the scene of the shooting.
A mixed DNA profile was produced inside the glove, said to relate to four people, including Murphy. He told jurors he “definitely” didn’t wear gloves on July 1 because he “was sunny.” The DNA of 20-year-old Thomas Walker was discovered on one of the bullet cartridges. The jury was ordered to find Walker not guilty of murder after he admitted to possessing ammunition without a certificate, on a date prior to the day of the shooting, which was accepted by the Crown.
Murphy said the multiple phone calls and text messages he exchanged with Walker and Doyle that afternoon concerned arrangements to go to San Carlo in Liverpool city center that night, but had “got it out of my face”. Doyle admitted riding the electric bike 10 minutes before the shooting, after repairing it for his owner. Doyle said he then turned the bike over to his owner, a man he declined to name for fear of “retaliation.”
He explained that the trip he took on the bike, with the mysterious owner sitting behind him, was to give cannabis to a friend. Doyle said he didn’t realize the bike was disguised and that he was only wearing a dark jacket because he was returning it to another friend.
Doyle claimed to have no knowledge that the mystery man was armed with a gun and had no idea that this man, not Murphy, then carried out a shooting, before returning the bike and asking that it be stored in his neighbor’s shed. because he had been “on a chase”. Doyle said that he thought this meant “that he had been chased by the bizzies”.
Murphy, of Oak Avenue, Newton-le-Willows; Doyle, of Lyme Grove; Huyton; and Walker, no fixed address but before Clubmoor; he will be sentenced at a later date. Judge Morris told the court that Murphy and Doyle’s conviction for murder would mean life in prison, and that the minimum length of that sentence would be decided at the next hearing.