Three men have been jailed for life for a gang-related shooting that left a five-year-old girl paralysed.
Nathaniel Grant, Anthony McCalla and Kazeem Kolawole were sentenced to a total of 45 years at the Old Bailey yesterday for gunning down Thusha Kamaleswaran at her aunt's south London shop in March last year in what the judge called an "attack on society itself".
The men, aged between 19 and 21, were hunting for a rival gang member when Grant opened fire into the Stockwell store, hitting shopper Roshan Selvakumar in the face and Thusha in the chest.
They were found guilty last month of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Thusha and Mr Selvakumar, as well as attempted murder of their intended victim Roshaun Bryan. Grant will serve a minimum of 17 years, and Kolawole and McCalla at least 14 years.
Passing sentence yesterday, Judge Martin Stephens said the crime had been carried out "by three men who saw themselves as above the law".
"This is an exceptional case of the utmost gravity," he said, adding that none of the men had shown "a sliver of remorse".
"Five-year-old Thusha, who was dancing around with her family in the shop, was hit in the body," he continued. "Only the skill and devotion of the medical teams who became involved saved her life but she remains paralysed below her chest and this condition is permanent.
"This simple but devastating statement of the essential facts of the case illustrates the gravity of these offences."
Thusha, a keen dancer, went into cardiac arrest twice at the scene of the shooting and had emergency surgery in the shop and in hospital. She has only recently been discharged from hospital. Mr Selvakumar has bullet fragments lodged in his head that cannot safely be removed.
In a statement released through the police, Thusha's parents, Jeyakumar Ghanasekaram, and his wife, Sharmila Kamaleswaran, thanked the emergency services for saving their daughter's life.
In a victim impact statement, Mrs Kamaleswaran said: "To see her lying in a hospital bed just took all of my heart away. It is so difficult now to see that her condition has brought all her dreams of being an aspiring dancer and musician to a shattering end and that all her practice of both from a young age has all been in vain... It is hard for all at home to see an innocent child who had been hopping around like a little rabbit, playing with her siblings and friends now paralysed for life."
In an interview after the verdicts last month, Thusha, now six, said: "I worry that someone will try to hurt me again." Her mother said the little girl cries because she misses school and her friends.
The men were members of a Brixton-based gang. Each had previous convictions for violence and Grant had been acquitted of involvement in the shooting of an 18-year-old in south London. The judge said the trio posed "a significant risk" to the public.