A cold-blooded gunman who executed an innocent dad-of-two in a tragic case of mistaken identity as he enjoyed a birthday drink with friends has been jailed for life.
Paul Davies, 34, shot dead Marlon O’Reilly, 33, in front of horrified pub customers after spraying him with bullets during a “premeditated assassination”.
A court heard Davies calmly walked into the Dovecote Arms in Sheldon, Birmingham, at around 5.45pm on May 10.
He calmly ordered an orange juice at the bar and less than a minute later pulled out a revolver and approached Mr O’Reilly from behind.
Without saying anything, Davies fired six rounds into the back of Mr O’Reilly – who had been enjoying a drink with pals the day before his 34th birthday.
Tragically, he was callously gunned down in a case of mistaken identity as Davies was seeking revenge after being attacked by three men in a gym earlier that morning.
Birmingham Crown Court heard Mr O’Reilly had been wearing a similar white T-shirt to the intended target and was entirely innocent.
On Wednesday Davies, of no fixed address, was found guilty of murder following a two week trial.
He was handed a life sentence and ordered to spend at least 31-years behind bars before he can be considered for release.
Sentencing him Judge Andrew Popplewell said: “When you murdered Marlon O’Reilly by gunning him down in a pub on an early summer evening this year, the day before his 34th birthday, you not only took his life, and all the richness it may have held for him, but you also caused untold suffering to his family.
“You were in the pub less than 45 seconds. It was a highly planned and calculated execution.
“This was a premeditated assassination of a kind and gentle man who had done nothing to bring it upon himself.”
The court heard after the killing Davies fled the scene on a motorbike and later boarded a flight to Bangkok at Birmingham Airport.
Police launched a major investigation to find the murderer and Davies was quickly identified on CCTV.
He later handed himself in voluntarily but pleaded not-guilty to murder once he was charged.
After his conviction, Detective Sergeant Harry May, of West Midlands Police, said: “He went to the pub that night with the intention of seeking revenge, but ultimately got the wrong person.
“Marlon was minding his own business and out having a drink to celebrate his birthday, which would have been the following day.
“At the time of the attack the pub was full of families from the local area – Davies showed a complete disregard to all of their lives by opening fire in such a public place.
“Today our thoughts go out to Marlon’s family who are all devastated by this tragic murder. It gives them very little comfort that he was not the intended target.
“Marlon was a good lad who was not mixed up in criminality and it has made his killing all the more difficult to deal with.
“I am satisfied with the length of the sentence handed to Davies.
“He will have a long time inside to reflect on his murderous actions.”
In statement released through police Mr O’Reilly’s family said afterwards: “We are thankful that justice has finally been served, we can now begin to grieve for the person we loved so dearly.
“Marlon was a loving, caring and sensitive man. It has brought a deepened sadness to us as a family that the incidents that led to Marlon’s death were not only mindless but also completely unrelated to him.
“We hope this conviction helps people to see that no one is above the law and when people act in such a way justice will be served.
“We would like to thank our family, friends and the wider Sheldon community for continued support without which we believe this ordeal would have been more sombre.
“We would like to thank the liaison officers involved in this case as their support has not only kept us informed but also offered us comfort and solace at such a traumatic time. Finally we would like to thank all the officers who have worked so hard to achieve justice for Marlon.”
Davies was also sentenced to 10-years in prison for possession of a firearm, to run concurrently with his life sentence.