AN axe attacker ‘gang leader’ has been locked up for six years for a vicious assault in a Nelson shop in 2006.

Ittazaz Ilahi, 33, fled the country after he and two others had targeted Amjad Hussain in a family feud at the mobile phone store in Railway Street. But after being seized at Manchester Airport, he has now been jailed at Burnley Crown Court.

Ilahi had been the first of the three hooded men to dish out violence in the incident on March 28, 2006. He had told the victim: “You're dead now” before bringing the axe down on the back of his head.

Mr Hussain was also hit with a baseball bat and punched.

The victim suffered two serious wounds, had to have 40 stitches and was so scared of going out afterwards he had missed his daughter's wedding. Ilahi, from Agecroft Road, Pendlebury, Manchester, admitted wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Sarah Statham, prosecuting, said Mr Hussain had gone to the shop to see his friend. He was sitting in the back room when the three men walked in. He immediately recognised the defendant when he took his hood down and as soon as he entered the back room, Ilahi produced an axe, about a foot and a half in length.

Mr Hussain tried to get up, grabbed out at the weapon and softened the blow, although he was still struck. A second man hit the victim about the head and body with a baseball bat and Mr Hussain wrestled with Ilahi, trying to disarm him. The struggle spilled out onto the street, the victim was still being attacked and was punched whilst on the ground. The third man then sprayed with victim's face with black paint from an aerosol cannister.

Miss Statham said Mr Hussain managed to escape and ran to Nelson Police Station. The defendant was not apprehended, but his accomplices were arrested that day and were charged. The attacker who wielded the baseball bat was sent to jail for six years in 2007.

The hearing was told Ilahi had a previous conviction for having an offensive weapon when he had an iron bar as part of the same feud.

He accepted he went to the shop, disguised and in a group.

Sentencing, Judge Beverley Lunt told Ilahi he had been part of a ‘very, very vicious and violent attack’ and had then run away. She said: “It's fortunate for you the injuries Mr Hussain suffered were not more serious.”