A blackmailer who trawled YouTube to construct a home-made gun used to shoot a drug dealer in a Holmfirth wood has been jailed for nine-and-a-half years.
Michael Sierotko, 24,was a gifted technology student at school, Manchester Crown Court heard today.
But he fell in with a ‘ruthless’ gang of high-level drug dealers and ended up using his skills to make a gun using parts and materials from hardware stores.
Neil Hazelwood, a convicted drug dealer and illegal moneylender, suffered life-threatening chest injuries after being blasted with the weapon at Hagg Wood, Holmfirth last September, following blackmail demands for cash and drugs.
In August, Sierotko was convicted of manufacturing a firearm and being part of the underworld plot to blackmail Hazelwood.
The trial heard that at the time of his arrest, Sierotko’s phone contained a link for a YouTube video which showed how to make a gun in graphic detail.
Sierotko who denied all offences, was cleared of attempting to murder Mr Hazelwood in the trial. It is not known who fired the gun at Hazelwood.
Home-made guns, known as slap guns, are a rarity on the streets and if constructed poorly, can backfire causing lethal injuries. Describing the weapon made by Sierotko, Judge Robert Atherton said: “It’s capable of killing, its simple to put together and it has the great advantage that once its used it can be dismantled and looks innocuous.”
Following Sierotko’s arrest in September last year an address linked to him was raided and a sawn-off double-barrelled shotgun was recovered along with 23 cartridges. Sierotko admitted possessing firearms and ammunition in connection with those offences.
Sierotko claimed he had paid £1,000 for the gun - stolen from an address in Scotland - because he needed protection from gangsters demanding £90,000 from him.
Stephen Meadowcroft QC, defending, said Sierotko, of Sunlaw Street, Glossop, would shun his criminal contacts on release, adding: “He’s not a violent individual, he comes from a very decent family. He is a man who perhaps did not appreciate the serious mess he was getting himself into - once he went off the rails he was trapped.
“He did well at school and went to college, he has qualifications - in woodwork, tiling and joinery. He could’ve had a perfectly good life.”
Judge Robert Atherton said: “He’s got potential, but he did get involved with some very unpleasant people - and he became unpleasant because of it.”