Gun murder gang pair get 32 years

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The Independent Online

Two members of a murderous gun gang were jailed for life today for the murder of an innocent 16-year-old girl shot dead when a tit-for-tat revenge hit went wrong.

Agnes Sina-Inakoju, who hoped to go to Oxford University, was blasted in the neck as she went to buy pizza at a takeaway shop.

She became the unwitting victim of "gang warfare" when she was gunned down by Leon Dunkley in east London in April last year.

Dunkley, a senior member of the London Fields gang, fired a submachine gun through the window in a "callous and cold-blooded" attack.

He and fellow gang member Mohammed Smoured, both wearing hoodies, cycled up to the Hoxton Chicken and Pizza Shop before Dunkley, without looking who he was aiming at, pulled out his gun and fired.

Dunkley, 22, and look-out Smoured, 21, both of Hackney, east London, were each convicted of murder by a 10-1 majority at the Old Bailey today. They were each jailed for life and told they must serve at least 32 years each behind bars.

Judge Peter Beaumont, the Recorder of London, said: "Gun violence with loaded weapons that imperils innocent people on the streets of London has to be stopped."

The shooting was captured on shocking CCTV footage. It was the culmination of a violent and escalating feud between groups of youths from different parts of Hackney.

However the person Dunkley hit was not a gang member but Agnes, a "popular and successful" schoolgirl.

Simon Denison QC, prosecuting, told the court: "Her future was taken away from her in an instant."

Agnes's brother, Abiola Inakoju, said in a victim impact statement that she had had a "realistic ambition" to go to Oxford and went to see the university the week before she was shot.

He said: "We were looking forward to seeing her growing into a young woman and being everything she wanted to be."

Investigations into Agnes's murder led police to uncover an arsenal of deadly weapons held by teenagers - intimidated into storing them by senior figures within the London Fields gang.

The shooting took place supposedly in revenge after one of the gang's members was beaten up by the rival Hoxton Boys.

Agnes had nothing to do with the dispute, but Dunkley believed that members of the rival gang would be hanging around at the takeaway shop when he opened fire.

Instead of striking one of them, the bullet hit the schoolgirl.

The court heard that after the shooting Smoured told a friend: "It's funny, the way she dropped."

Judge Beaumont told the killers that they would not be released until they are in their 50s.

Dwayne Wisdom, 17, and a 16-year-old youth were convicted of firearms offences for holding weapons on behalf of older members of the London Fields gang and will be sentenced at a later date.

It was not the first time members of the gang had been responsible for the death of an innocent teenager.

Six of them were jailed for life in 2009 for the murder of 14-year-old schoolboy Shaquille Smith, who was stabbed on a park bench.

Opening the case last month, Mr Denison told jurors: "Agnes Sina-Inakoju was just 16 years old.

"On the evening of Wednesday April 14 last year she went to the local chicken and pizza shop for some pizza.

"She was standing inside the shop next to the window. Two young men on bicycles wearing hoodies with hoods up cycled up to the window.

"One of them calmly took out a gun and pointed it towards the window where Agnes and her friends were and fired. It was very quick.

"He didn't even stop his bicycle. He didn't pause to see who was in the shop or to aim at anyone in particular.

"The bullet hit Agnes in the neck. She collapsed immediately and she died in the early hours of Friday April 16.

"The two young men cycled off as casually as they had arrived. It was as callous and cold-blooded as it could be, carried out in broad daylight in a busy street.

"Agnes appears to have been the innocent victim of an ongoing rivalry between gangs in that part of London."

The murder of Agnes was the culmination of a series of shootings and serious assaults between the London Fields gang and the Hoxton Boys.

Dunkley was a leading figure in the former group and had previously been arrested over four firearms incidents.

After the shooting, word was spread by fellow gang members that people should not help police with the investigation.

The court heard that the murder weapon was recovered by officers who chased Wisdom a week after the shooting.

He threw a rucksack he was carrying over a wall. In it was found a 9mm Parabellum submachine gun and a second gun and some bullets, jurors were told.

"The submachine gun was later identified as the gun used to kill Agnes," said Mr Denison, prosecuting.

Further firearms were recovered during the investigation, including a loaded Mac-10 submachine gun, a loaded shotgun and ammunition, and a loaded .38 revolver, the court heard.

Inquiries revealed that the gun used to kill Agnes had been used in six other shootings while the Mac-10 was linked to four incidents.

Detective Chief Inspector John Crossley said: "Agnes was a totally innocent victim of gun crime who had her whole future ahead of her."

Chief Superintendent Steve Bending, borough commander of Hackney, said: "Those convicted today have committed a crime that is as reckless as it is cowardly."

Agnes's family said in a statement: "Agnes Sina-Inakoju was a very beautiful, friendly, brilliant and intelligent young girl with lots of potential.

"She was full of ambition and intended to go to Oxford University to continue her study after school."