Teenager jailed over shooting


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The Independent Online

A killer who went on the run at the age of 15 after the fatal shooting of a schoolboy in a pub car park has been jailed for a minimum of 18 years.

In August 2009, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) took the unusual step of naming the then youth Moses Mathias as a wanted suspect for the murder of 16-year-old Giuseppe Gregory.

Huge photographs of Mathias were beamed on to a big screen in Piccadilly Gardens in central Manchester as police also offered a £15,000 reward for information to track him down.

Mathias, now 18, remained at large until he was arrested in Amsterdam earlier this year on a European Arrest Warrant after a joint investigation by the Serious Organised Crime Agency and GMP.

He was flown back to the UK in June and four months later admitted the murder of the youngster who was gunned down in the early hours of May 11 2009 in a car outside the Robin Hood pub in Stretford.

Sentencing him to a life term and rejecting the defendant's claim he had only gone to the pub to commit a robbery, Mr Justice Holroyde said: "This was a planned shooting motivated by inter-gang rivalry and a desire for vengeance."

He told him: "The waste of young lives is dreadful. In this case one teenager has been killed and you and others will spend in prison what should have been productive lives."

Mathias had earlier given evidence at Manchester Crown Court on his basis of plea in which he said he did not intend to kill anyone.

He said he did not learn of Giuseppe's death until he saw it on the news the next day.

In March 2010, Mathias's associates Njabulo Ndlovu and Hiruy Zerihun, then aged 19 and 18, were jailed for life and ordered to serve minimum terms of 21 years and 23 years respectively after they were convicted of Giuseppe's murder.

Their trial heard the pair carried out the attack in revenge for the murder of Zerihun's boyhood friend Louis Brathwaite, also 16, who was shot dead in a betting shop in Withington, south Manchester, in January 2008.

They were affiliated to Fallowfield Man Dem, a splinter group of the notorious Gooch Gang, who targeted Giuseppe and his friends because of their association to the rival gang the Longsight Crew.

Rumours were rife of the identity of the gunman who shot Louis, and the person they thought had shot their friend was sitting in front of Giuseppe in the targeted Volkswagen Golf.

The suspect, Travis Bailey, had been arrested a year after Louis's murder and was later released on bail pending further inquiries. He was eventually told in April 2009 that no further action would be taken against him.

Mathias, of no fixed address, also pleaded guilty to possessing - with Zerihun and Ndlovu - an imitation firearm, a self-loading pistol, a .32 pistol and six .32 bullet cartridges.

But today he argued the basis of his plea for murder and claimed he did not know Louis Brathwaite.

Giving evidence, he said the plan was to enter the pub and "rob the tills".

Shortly before the VW Golf arrived and someone shouted 'Boy Dem' - slang to describe that gang members were around, he said.

"I was in fear of my own life," he said.

"Some gang members were travelling towards me with the lights on and I heard bangs.

"I did not hear where the bangs were coming from. That is when I started shooting.

"It all happened so fast."

He denied being a gang member and being steeped in that lifestyle.

Stephen Riordan QC, prosecuting, said Mathias was "lying" in a bid to play down his involvement and intention that night.

Mathias was stopped in the street by police in Manchester just over a week after the murder but was not a suspect at the time.

He was found in possession of notepaper which had lyrics on it which referenced 'The Terminator' and 'Letting Shots Off'.

When detectives subsequently raided his family home in Prestwich, other rap poetry he had composed was discovered, the court heard.

Among the verses he had written were the words: "Kill One Nigger Then Be Gone. Away From The Homeland, Move To Spain. I Want To Get To 21 Like EJ.

"I On The News On BBC 1. I Can't Handle 25. I Can't Handle 25, I Think I Might Die."

EJ was a reference to Errol Reynolds who was jailed for 30 years in 2007 for the murder of a gang rival.

The judge said he had read other lyrics which referred to "heating up the streets" and "upping the death toll".

Mr Justice Holroyde said: "Making every allowance for adolescent bravado, your compositions show a very disturbed attitude and mind."