A COURT has heard that there is a ‘one in a billion’ chance that DNA left on a grenade planted under a car in Orford did not come from one of the suspects.

Wesley Williamson, Robert Musson, Kyle Stewart and Billy Jones are currently on trial at Liverpool Crown Court, following a series of attacks between rival gangs across the town last year - including wanted man Leon Cullen’s BMW being torched.

In another incident, a grenade was left under a Vauxhall Insignia on the driveway of a home on Cleveland Road in Orford where four children were sleeping upstairs.

This week, the court heard that the device was swabbed for DNA being being blown up during a controlled explosion nearby in the early hours of February 24 2018.

Warrington Guardian:

A hole left by the controlled explosion

The DNA of at least three people was found on the grenade following tests.

And forensic scientist Samuel Walton told the trial on Monday that it was ‘one billion time more likely than not’ that 29-year-old Jones’ DNA was present on the pin of the explosive.

However, other traces of DNA could not identified.

The court also heard how Jones, 31-year-old Williamson, 33-year-old Musson and 31-year-old Stewart were linked by a series of ‘spoofed’ phones calls leading up to the events of February 2018.

Earlier in the month, Smithy’s Gym in Bewsey had been targeted in an arson attack and bricks thrown through the window of a house on Honister Avenue in Orford where Leon Cullen lived with his partner.

Warrington Guardian:

Leon Cullen

Williamson, of Grasmere Avenue in Orford, and Stewart, of Greenwood Crescent in Orford, received a ‘significant number of calls’ apparently from different numbers across the world before the grenade find.

These numbers included contact from Denmark, India, China, Laos, the USA, Afghanistan, Vietnam, North Korea, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Taiwan, Iran, Bahrain, Tajikistan, Bhutan, Japan and Burma.

But it is believed that these calls were actually made using ‘tumbler’ phones, in which the true identity of a caller is disguised using the internet or a specialist SIM card.

Professor Peter Sommer, a lecturer in digital forensics at Birmingham City University, told the trial: “You can tell that spoofed phone numbers were used in this case as the numbers keep on changing.

“They were almost certainly doing it because they didn’t want to be traced.

“I can’t definitively say who might have been calling - it might have been one person or two people, although my inkling is that is was one person.”

Warrington Guardian:

Firefighters operating a crane at the scene on Cleveland Road

Beginning last month, the trial previously heard that an anonymous one minute and 27 second 999 call was made from a phone booth on Knutsford Road in Latchford shortly after midnight on the Saturday morning in question - reporting the grenade being placed under a white car outside the family home.

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This incident sparked a police investigation codenamed Operation Fullbacks, which linked the explosive to a series of crimes that had followed on from the a drugs gang operating in Warrington being shut down.

Members of the cocaine racket were arrested in January 2018 and later jailed for a total of 185 years in early 2019.

Among them was Anthony Cullen, who was imprisoned for 27 years - but his twin brother Leon managed to escape and remains at large, believed to have fled the country.

Warrington Guardian:

Anthony Cullen

A series of targeted attacks began on Wednesday, February 21 2018, with a fire at Smithy’s Gym on Bewsey Road.

The gym was 'completely ravaged' by the arson attack.

At around 8.15am on Friday, February 23 2018 - the day leading up to the grenade being discovered - two bricks were thrown through the kitchen window of Leon Cullen's home on Honister Avenue.

That night at around 7.30pm, a BMW car on the driveway of this property was then set on fire.

All four defendants deny charges of conspiracy to possess explosives for an unlawful purpose.

The trial continues, but is not due to sit next week.