Footballer Gavin Grant guilty of gun murder

A footballer cleared of murder three years ago was facing a life sentence today after being convicted of another gun killing.

Former Millwall striker Gavin Grant was involved in a series of "tit-for-tat" shootings in and around a "lawless" council estate, the Old Bailey was told.

Grant, 26, who also played for Wycombe Wanderers before joining Bradford City as a non-contract player until the end of last season, was found guilty of gunning down Leon Labastide, 21.

Stephen Batten QC, prosecuting, said many of the people involved in the case had been linked to shootings and drug dealing on the Stonebridge Park Estate, in Harlesden, north west London.

He told the jury: "Attitudes and standards are different. It is more the law of the jungle than the law of civilised England.

"You will hear about and see people whose behaviour will probably disgust you and make you wonder if there is any hope for the human race."

Former associates had preferred to seek vengeance with weapons rather than get help from the police.

In August 2007, Grant was found not guilty of shooting Jahmall Moore, 22, who died in a hail of 16 bullets fired by three gunmen in January 2005.

But today, he was found guilty of Mr Labastide's murder in January 2004 after trials last December and this month.

The court was told it was Mr Labastide's killing which led to the second murder and a spate of shootings on the estate.

Grant denied involvement and said Mr Labastide, who was known as Playboy, was a friend.

Operation Trident gun-crime detectives believe there were up to 30 connected shooting incidents in the area arising out of the fall-out.

Following the arrests of Grant and others, officers said shootings fell by almost 50% in the area.

Stonebridge Park, although still notorious for drugs and crime, has seen improvements with a £250 million regeneration.

Detective Inspector Steve Horsley said: "Gavin Grant thought he had got away with murder.

"He carried on his footballing career while, all along, he had blood on his hands."

Gareth Downie, 25, was also found guilty of murdering Mr Labastide.

Damian Williams, 32, was found guilty of conspiring with them to murder Mr Labastide.

All the verdicts were by 10-2 majorities. They were all remanded in custody for sentencing on Monday.

Roberto Parchment, 24, originally convicted of Mr Moore's murder, was found guilty again following a retrial in December brought about by supergrass Darren Mathurin's involvement.

He was jailed for life again and ordered to serve the remainder of his 28-year sentence.

Romain Whyte, 25, was cleared of that murder by a 10-2 majority verdict.

The jury heard that trouble started with a burglary at the home of Whyte when three women were terrorised and it was suspected that £20,000 in drug money was taken.

A 16-year-old girl, who had been in the house, gave evidence under an assumed name in the trial.

It was rumoured that Mr Labastide was behind the burglary, and Williams arranged for Grant and Downie to shoot him, it was alleged.

In the spate of shooting incidents which followed, Mr Moore was gunned down by Parchment in mistake for Sean Cephanis following a hate campaign he was suspected of starting.

Grant told the court he was not involved in the shooting and said he had been set up.

Grant, from Kenton, north London, Williams, of Southwark, south London, and Downie of Markby Road, Birmingham, all face life sentences.