Life jail term for 'breathtaking' murder

A 30-year-old man was jailed for life today for nearly decapitating a young father during an episode of "breathtaking" violence outside the Ministry of Sound.

Ranjit Nankani was told he must serve at least 18 years for the murder after deliberately using a Mitsubishi Shogun 4x4 to mow down Gary Johnson, 25.

CCTV pictures of the incident last August showed how Mr Johnson was struck on the pavement opposite the south London club and thrown into the air.

Mr Johnson was then carried along on the bonnet of the vehicle and was partially decapitated as his head struck a wall. He died instantly.

His friend Dwayne McPherson took out a gun and fired several rounds at Nankani - but only one bullet struck him and he survived.

Nankani, of Croydon, south London, was found guilty of murder by 11-1 to majority at the Old Bailey last week.

The court heard that on the night of the attack he was at twice the drink-driving limit after downing champagne as well as brandy and coke.

He waited outside the club after he and and his friends were thrown out over a trivial row in which he was accused of treading on Mr Johnson's toe.

Judge Stephen Kramer told Nankani: "What you did must have involved a degree of premeditation. It was a targeted revenge attack on a crowded public street when people were leaving the club to go home.

"You waited and you used your vehicle as a lethal weapon in the streets."

McPherson, 28, of Sydenham, south east London, was convicted of attempted murder and will be sentenced on September 10.

Sentencing Nankani today, the judge said: "You acted in anger at what had happened inside the club and because of what you had had to drink."

The killer and his friends had drunk between two and four bottles of champagne while Nankani said he also had five or six glasses of brandy and coke.

"You had an altercation with Gary Johnson in the club that same night some 20 minutes before his death," said the judge.

"You were accused of treading on his toe."

It had been claimed someone may have had a gun and threatened Nankani's life with it, the court heard. He and his friends were thrown out of the club.

The judge said: "One witness described you as being raging mad, doubtless at what you felt to be the unfair way you and your friends had been treated.

"What you did was not, as you contended, an accident. The jury have found that your driving was a deliberate, targeted revenge on Gary Johnson."

As he was led away to begin his sentence, Nankani shouted: "They were gang members and that gun is still out there. I'm sorry for the death of Mr Johnson."

Aftab Jafferjee QC, prosecuting, said: "This case is about breathtaking lawlessness on the streets of London, where comparatively minor incidents inside a busy venue were responded to with murderous violence."

Jurors heard violence erupted in the early hours of the August Bank Holiday after many people had been attending the club.

The defendants were with their own groups and a row broke out which ended in some people, including Nankani and his friends, being thrown out.

McPherson and his friend Mr Johnson left at 4.30am and did not see Nankani sitting in his Shogun outside, said Mr Jafferjee.

He said "in a staggering act of revenge and/or retaliation" Nankani's car mounted the pavement, accelerated and struck Mr Johnson.

"He had achieved the object of his terrible act of revenge," added Mr Jafferjee.

The car went on to collide with parked cars, trapping Nankani inside.

Mr Jafferjee said: "Now it was McPherson's turn for revenge. He pulled out his gun and fired several rounds at Nankani. He was going to kill Nankani in revenge for Nankani killing his friend."

The driver was hit in his right shoulder by one of the four bullets fired at him.

He climbed out of the passenger door and ran to a roundabout where he flagged down a police car.

After the verdicts the victim's mother, Joyce Johnson, said: "I cannot find words to explain the loss of my baby."

In a statement, she said her life and that of her family had been "destroyed" by the "callous and brutal murder".

She described her son, who had worked as a painter and decorator, labourer, and music promoter, as a "tender, gregarious, humble, fun loving person who got on well with everyone".

"He was 25-years-old at the time of his death and had his whole life in front of him," she added.

"Gary to me will always be my baby and I miss him so very much so that there are no words to describe losing him in this way."

She said her son had a fiancee, Charlene, and a 10-month-old daughter, Skye, at the time he was killed.

"Skye refuses to talk as a result of Gary's death.

"She had a very close bond with her father and whenever he walked through the door she would always go straight to him."

The victim's mother condemned Nankani, saying: "He has shown no remorse for his brutal and callous actions killing my baby Gary."

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Dunne said of Nankani and McPherson: "It is hard to believe that these men, who came out to enjoy an evening with their friends, managed to turn the evening into such a violent and tragic sequence of events.

"There were large amounts of people outside the club at the time that witnessed the horrific death of Gary Johnson and they must have been terrified to hear and see the gun shots.

"Due to a petty argument, these men made choices that have changed their lives forever and a man has tragically lost his life."

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
musicBest exclusives coming to an independent record shop near you this Record Store Day
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit