Rappers used song to scare off murder witnesses

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The Independent Online

Two rappers were convicted today of trying to scare off witnesses to a murder in a song placed on the internet.

The "chilling" song warned people who talked to the police that they could be shot, the Old Bailey heard.

Ishmael McLean, 22, of Greenford, and Rowan Simon, 18, of Ealing, west London, were found guilty by 10-2 majorities of acting to pervert the course of justice.

A third youth, Ryan Esprit, 18, of Hanwell, west London, was found not guilty.

McLean and Simon were remanded in custody for sentence on November 27. Judge Richard Hone warned they faced prison sentences.

The video was clearly intended to frighten people off from speaking to the police, said Oliver Glasgow, prosecuting.

The clip, featuring a backing track, a chorus sung by several people and a burst of gunfire, was played to the jury.

It had been placed on YouTube with links to MySpace and Facebook profiles following the shooting murder in Ealing, west London, in November, last year. of Jason Johnson, 24.

Eight people, including the defendants, were arrested but were not prosecuted. The decision had nothing to do with the video, said Mr Glasgow.

The two defendants were arrested in connection with the video in February, this year, when it was discovered by police.

McLean told officers he wrote lyrics to "Wrong Team" but claimed it was only a gangster-rap.

Mr Glasgow said two of the defendant's friends had been placed in custody while the others had been bailed following the shooting.

He added: "Rather than wait for the police to conclude their enquiries they decided to take matters into their own hands.

"They wrote, recorded and released onto YouTube a rap music video in which they spoke of their hatred for the people who had spoken to the police.

"The video had but one purpose - to threaten any witness to this incident to frighten them to such an extent that they would refuse to co-operate with the police.

"They made it clear exactly what it was they wanted to do to them. Namely, kill them or to use their own words 'I can't wait for the snitch to drop, I still show up at his wake just to see him off'."

Mr Glasgow said a man claiming to be an eyewitness to the shooting had been interviewed by police.

The defendants, not knowing the person's identity, had sent out a message to the community with the rap.

"Its connection to this case and its chilling message were immediately obvious to the officers," said Mr Glasgow.

It featured McLean and Simon singing a verse each. The chorus said: "My guns bang your guns jam... You're f*****g with the wrong team".

Simon had sung: "Me I just give the strap (gun) lovin' and I make it bust (fire). 'Cos I can see the snakes hiding in the f*****g grass and for a month now the spotlight's been on us."

McLean adds: "Mention my name, I'll aim and squeeze off."

* McLean and Esprit were among six youths cleared last month of the shooting murder of Jason Johnson, 24, in Ealing in November, last year.

The case could not be reported at the time. The prosecution said there were "compelling reasons" why no evidence was offered, but they could not be made public.

McLean had also been arrested but not charged with the murder.