Gang member ‘pointed shotgun at marked police car’, court told

The four men are on trial at the Old Bailey. Picture: Google

The four men are on trial at the Old Bailey. Picture: Google - Credit: Google

A gang member wearing a clown mask pointed a shotgun at a marked police car when chased while on a “ride-out” to target rivals in a stolen BMW, a court has heard.

Armed officers - including one who described the white face as reminiscent of the Hollywood film Heat - opened fire on the vehicle, believing their lives were in danger, a jury was told.

Police found an arsenal of weapons, including an axe and a “zombie” knife, when the black BMW 1 Series was forced to stop after being driven in the wrong direction down a one-way street in Leytonstone.

A loaded shotgun was found in the car, while cartridges were discovered on the ground nearby. Later, forensic testing showed the gun had not been fired on the night of July 26 last year.

Also recovered were some thin plastic gloves and a clown mask said to have been worn by the alleged gunman Lekan Akinsoji, 20, from Dagenham, who prosecutors claim is linked to the Woodgrange or “E7” gang from Forest Gate.

He is standing trial at the Old Bailey alongside Nathaniel Lewis, 23, from Forest Gate, and Darnell Joseph-Newill, 21, and Troy Ifill, 22, both from Stratford, who had formed an alliance under the name “Northside Newham”.

All four men deny possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm with intent and attempting to use a firearm with intent to resist arrest.

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The court heard a fifth man, the driver, sprinted away from the BMW and was not arrested.

Prosecutor Anthony Orchard QC told a jury: “The prosecution case is that these four defendants, plus the driver, were on what is known as a ‘ride-out’.

“This is where members or associates of one gang drive to the territory of another gang, often in a stolen vehicle, with the intention of causing really serious injury or even death to any member or presumed member of the opposing gang.

“The arsenal of weapons found in the stolen car evidencing, we suggest, their obvious intention that night.”

The court heard three armed police officers pursued the BMW, as it was driven dangerously at speed down the residential roads of Leytonstone.

During the chase, front seat passenger Akinsoji is said to have pointed a shortened shotgun out of the window at the following marked police car, and was seen by an officer to be wearing a white mask.

“The white face reminded the officer of the Hollywood film Heat because it looked like a clown’s face,” said the prosecutor.

Mr Orchard told jurors: “The police driver, understandably, thought the lives of himself and his colleagues were in danger.

“Having assessed the situation, and as he drove, the police driver fired four shots through the front windscreen of his police vehicle in the direction of the gunman.

“He had been trained to shoot like this. In fact, the shots missed.

“The officer’s colleagues, convinced a shot had been fired at them, also fired their weapons. The BMW - the car that they were chasing - maintained its speed and wouldn’t stop.”

Jurors heard the car was finally brought to a halt when it drove up a one-way street into the path of a vehicle facing the other way.

Further shots were fired by the officers and they ordered the defendants out of the car and on to the ground.

Police found an axe and a “zombie” knife in the car, while two lock knives and a “hunting” knife were found nearby. Another “hunting” knife was found in a bin a short distance away.

The stolen BMW was being driven on false number plates and there was a full can of petrol in the boot, while none of those arrested was carrying a phone, the court heard.

The trial continues.