A nurse ordered workers at a car wash to scrub her Mercedes clean of blood after her son blasted a love rival in the leg with a shotgun.

Patricia Dean, 59, has been jailed for 18 months after being found guilty of assisting an offender, at Bolton Crown Court.

Prosecution barrister Philip Barnes told the court that Dean’s son, Vincenzo De Falco, shot his victim while parked up in Rochdale on January 21 2019.

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De Falco will be sentenced for causing grievous bodily harm with intent at a later date.

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The court heard that the victim was previously in a relationship with De Falco’s girlfriend Lucy Flux and the pair had been texting over the New Year period.

On the afternoon of the shooting, the victim had travelled from Ashton-under-Lyne to Rochdale, to buy some cannabis from De Falco.

The victim got into the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which was being driven by De Falco.

The car was leased by Dean, through the NHS, and she allowed her son to drive it as and when he needed it, the court heard.

When inside the car, De Falco confronted the victim about his contact with Ms Flux and shouted: “You think I’m some sort of muppet”.

Police cordon on Knowsley Street on Monday afternoon, Jan 21 2019, following a shooting

The victim reassured De Falco that he was just friends with Ms Flux and that there was nothing to worry about.

De Falco then said: “You want to get shot” and the victim noticed a shotgun pointed towards him.

He grabbed the barrel of the gun to turn it away from him and shortly after, De Falco told another man to let the victim out of the car.

As he shuffled across the back seat to leave, De Falco shot the victim in the leg at point-blank range. The man was then dumped out of the car onto the pavement on Knowsley Street, where passers-by called an ambulance.

Dean had been working at North Manchester General Hospital on the day of the shooting and had only recently arrived back at her home in Sowery Bridge, Yorkshire, when she received a call from Ms Flux.

Dean immediately left her house to drive to Ms Flux’s home in Bacup, Lancashire, in her other car - a BMW.

They spent around 20 minutes at the house before Ms Flux and Dean left in one car, while De Falco and a man named Gary Crawford left in another.

Later that night, De Falco and Dean both drove along the same route in separate cars, while communicating on the phone.

The court heard that they travelled from Whitworth to Rochdale and then to Middleton.

Dean eventually arrived back at home at around 10pm and texted De Falco to “get some sleep”.

Police at the scene of the shooting

The next day, Dean took the Mercedes to a hand car wash in Bury New Road, Heywood.

Mr Barnes told the court that she spent £50 on an internal and external valet - with three car wash employees spending more than an hour cleaning the car.

Dean repeatedly inspected the car and told the workers to ‘clean the back seat more’.

She then drove it to her sister’s home and parked it outside.

Police at the scene of the shooting on January 21 2019

On the following day, January 23, police stopped Dean’s BMW in Middleton. De Falco was also in the car and both were arrested.

When the Mercedes was inspected, traces of the victim’s blood were found on the door and mat.

During her interview, Dean, of Kebroyd Lane, denied knowing anything about what De Falco had done and made no mention of travelling to Bacup.

She told police that the car had not been washed since the weekend before the shooting but her trip to the car wash in Heywood was caught on CCTV.

Following the shooting and several operations, the victim’s left leg had to be amputated below the knee.

He has had to move out of his upper floor flat and now lives on the ground floor of a family member’s home, who has had to modify their house to accommodate for his injuries.

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Defending, William Donnelly told the court that Dean was a woman of ‘impeccable character’.

She worked as a nurse for more than 25 years and former colleagues described her as ‘committed’, ‘honest’, ‘caring’, ‘reliable’, and ‘compassionate’ in character references heard by the court.

“She has a history of foster care over many many years, providing a safe environment for children who find themselves in distress,” Mr Donnelly told the court.

Mr Donnelly said that Dean has continued to work as a nurse, while on bail, during the pandemic but has recently found out that she has lost her job and will lose her pension.

Bolton Crown Court
Bolton Crown Court

She also cares for her mum, who has dementia, Mr Donnelly added.

Mr Donnelly also told the court that the shotgun used in the incident has never been recovered but Dean is not accused of having anything to do with that.

Judge Tom Gilbart referenced Dean’s previous good character when passing sentence.

Jailing her for 18 months, he said: “It is absolutely mystifying that a woman with such a history of care and public service would throw it all away in such a manner.

“It really is such a waste to see you in the dock of a court.

“You’ve continued to deny the offence in discussing matters with the probation service. You told the author of the report, ‘I cannot be sorry for what I have been convicted of because I didn't do it’.”

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