May 19 2013 Latest news:
Friday, September 21, 2012
Two gunmen have been jailed for 34 years each after a shootout outside a birthday party at a nightclub which killed two men.
The street outside the Sugar Lounge in Forest Gate, east London, was covered in blood and littered with bullets from four guns.
The first gunman, Michael Smith, was chased through suburban streets and shot repeatedly at point-blank range by Kevin Powell.
Powell, who is said to have “taken the law in his own hands”, and Smith, who survived the blasts, stood trial.
Smith, 28, unemployed, of Canning Town, was found guilty of murdering Eugene Brown, 27, and Patrick Ford, 36.
He was given two life sentences at the Old Bailey with a minimum term of 34 years.
Powell, 37, a student, of Harlesden, was found guilty of attempting to murder Smith, following a retrial, and jailed for 34 years.
Nana Oppong, 32, a cleaner, of Stratford, was previously cleared of murder and a firearms charge after two juries failed to reach verdicts. He was jailed for two years after being found guilty of perverting justice.
Judge Brian Barker, the Common Serjeant of London, told them: “To have a case of three guns and two bodies after an extraordinary escape from the jaws of death, is an affront to civilised and peace-loving society.
“This was a brutal and callous use of powerful weapons in London streets with a complete indifference to the results.
“These were acts of revenge done in the streets with complete disregard for the public.”
Smith and Powell were given concurrent ten-year terms for the firearms offences.
The court heard Mr Brown and Mr Ford were gunned down outside the club in Katherine Road, Forest Gate, east London, at 6am on May 29 2010. Smith shot them despite being surrounded by party-goers who spilled out on to the pavement after shots were fired into the ceiling of the club below a pub.
He was later dumped at the doors of a hospital and recovered despite being shot six times including once in the head.
At least 24 bullets were fired at him, some becoming embedded in houses and one going through a living room window.
Much of the terrifying incidents were captured on graphic CCTV and played to the jury.
William Boyce, QC, prosecuting, told the jury: “Mr Powell went after Mr Smith and caught up with him in a side road and shot him several times at virtually point-blank range.
“Mr Smith must be one of the most fortunate men alive, he has no right to be alive.”
Smith, whose white suit was covered in blood, had got up and ran away, but was caught again and blasted at point-blank range for a second time.
Mr Boyce said Smith still managed to get up and run, and dived into an open window of a car before being dumped in the doorway of a hospital.
“It was fortunate that it was 6am and not a busy time of the day,” added Mr Boyce.
“Mr Powell had taken the law into his own hands and had gone out to exact his own revenge. He peppered Mr Smith with bullets but still did not manage to kill him.”
Mr Brown had fired four bullets into the ceiling of the club during Nana Oppong’s birthday celebrations.
“It appears that caused great offence and broke up the party,” said Mr Boyce.
He was followed out of the club by Oppong and Smith, who shot him and Mr Ford by the gates. Mr Ford died where he fell and Mr Brown died six weeks later in hospital.
Two women working at the Sugar Lounge were found guilty of perverting justice and were jailed in September, last year.
Dajsha Stancillas, 31, of Forest Gate, removed bullet casings from the floor of the Sugar Lounge. She was jailed for a year.
Camilla Ghimpu, 26, also of Forest Gate, got rid of the bullet cases after being handed them by Stancillas, her boss. She received six months.
Mr Brown’s friend Nerissa Harris, 29, of Chingford, was found guilty of perverting justice for taking a gun from Mr Brown after he was shot.
She placed it in a car and it was then spirited away by a man who has never been identified. She was jailed for 18 months.