Ex-soap star Brian Regan 'was in murder gang'
Tuesday 18 October 2011
A former soap star was part of a gang which lured a father of one to his death, a court heard today.
Brian Regan, 53, who played Terry Sullivan in Channel 4's Brookside for 14 years, drove alleged gunman Edward Heffey to and from the scene of the fatal shooting of Bahman Faraji, 44, in Liverpool, the city's Crown Court was told.
Mr Faraji, a nightclub doorman, was gunned down at close range as he stood outside the Belgrave public house in the Aigburth suburb of the city on the evening of February 24 this year.
Regan, of St Mary's Road, Liverpool, denies murder alongside Heffey, 40, of Beloe Street; Lee Dodson, 42, of Logfield Drive, and Simon Smart, 32, of Kylemore Way, also Liverpool.
Opening the case for the prosecution, Brian Cummings QC, said Mr Faraji was killed by Heffey after Dodson enlisted Regan's help.
The shooting was orchestrated "at a distance" by Smart acting on the orders of another man, Mr Cummings said.
"Edward Heffey was the gunman who actually shot the victim, and Brian Regan, by arrangement with Lee Dodson, drove Heffey to and from the scene of the shooting, fully aware of the purpose of Heffey's trip," Mr Cummings told the jury.
He said Mr Faraji, known as Ben, was lured to the Belgrave pub that night following a series of phone calls he received from a pay-as-you-go mobile phone the prosecution claims was used by Smart.
"All the indications were that this was a dirty phone obtained for the purpose of luring Mr Faraji to his death and used in a disciplined way that was designed to leave no clue as to the identity of its user," the barrister said.
Mr Faraji went to the Belgrave in the company of two other men. They spent about ten minutes or so inside the public house before the three of them went outside and stood on the pavement.
A short while later a man approached and said to Mr Faraji, 'Are you Ben?', Mr Cummings said.
He added: "Mr Faraji nodded and the man raised what appeared to be a shortened double barrelled shotgun and fired it directly into Mr Faraji's face.
"There was a cloud of smoke and Mr Faraji fell to the ground.
"The gunman fled the scene on foot and witnesses saw him carrying a gun under his arm.
"He then got into a waiting vehicle driven by Brian Regan."
Mr Faraji died instantly, a post mortem examination found.
Firearms experts said the fatal shot had been fired from a distance of just three or four feet from the victim, Mr Cummings said.
Detectives launched a murder investigation and began a hunt for the getaway car.
The following day police stop-checked a Ford Escort estate in Liverpool city centre and inside the vehicle were Regan and his girlfriend Christine Line.
The former actor gave a witness statement saying the car belonged to a friend but he had the use of it, Mr Cummings said.
"He said he'd been using the car the previous evening but he had not been in the area where the murder took place," the prosecutor added.
"Christine Line's witness statement said broadly the same thing but there were some significant differences," he added.
Police became suspicious and both were arrested and taken into custody for questioning.
The jury were told that on the way to the police station, Regan said: "I done nothing wrong and I didn't do anything willingly."
Mr Cummings also said Regan told detectives: "I want to help you but I'll be shot."
In her interview, Line, 48, told police that when she and Regan were stopped by the police, Regan had asked her to say she was with him in the car on the night of the murder.
The truth, she said, was that she had been on her own at home and had not been out with him at all, the jury heard.
The prosecution claim Regan, and Line, also of St Mary's Road, lied to police in the early days of the inquiry in an effort to provide the former star with a false alibi.
Both deny a joint charge of perverting the course of justice.
Regan later told detectives he did pick up "a friend" and take him to the area of the Belgrave pub.
The friend then disappeared for about two minutes, before returning to the vehicle, he said.
The prosecution say that friend was Heffey.
Mr Cummings said: "Regan maintains that he simply did not know his passenger was carrying a sawn-off shotgun - either on the journey to the pub or when leaving immediately after the shooting.
"The prosecution contend that that is simply not credible."
He added that much of the evidence will centre on "cellsiting", a technique by which telephone masts can be used to approximate the position of a mobile phone when it is in use.
Detectives also pieced together evidence using mobile phone bills and CCTV in the area of the murder and around Liverpool, Mr Cummings said.
Dodson was held in March and denied putting Regan in touch with the gunman, insisting he had nothing to do with the murder.
Heffey was held two weeks later and took part in an identification parade where one of Mr Faraji's two companions picked him out as the gunman.
Heffey said the witness had made a mistake.
In his interview, Smart denied any involvement in the murder and said he had never owned or used the so-called "dirty phone".
Liverpool-based Brookside began on the launch night of Channel 4 on November 2 1982, and ran for 21 years until November 2003.
Regan joined the soap from episode six and his Terry Sullivan character was at the centre of some of Brookside Close's most dramatic storylines until his final appearance in 1997.
The soap opera, noted for confronting gritty issues, turned scores of actors into household names, including Sue Johnson, Amanda Burton and Anna Friel.
The drama also provided some of British television's most memorable moments, such as the first pre-watershed lesbian kiss and the infamous body under the patio at Number 10.
The trial was adjourned and will resume at 10.30am tomorrow.
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