The cycle of revenge killings that went on for three years

It began with a teenage gang member’s murder. Paul Peachey reveals the shocking trail of violence that ensued

crime correspondent

We may never know why teenage gang member Mohammed Hussain was in rival territory after dark on 1 April last year – even with armed back-up waiting close by in the car.

It could have been deliberate provocation by Mr Hussain to saunter on the turf of north London rivals “Dem Africans” (DA) on the eve of a trial of some of his friends accused of the murder of 15-year-old DA member Negus McLean. Alternatively, he may have been tricked into coming to the area as part of a planned ambush.

Whatever the reason, the result for the 19-year-old Get Money Gang (GMG) member was sudden and brutal.

As he wandered back to his car, he was intercepted by a young gunman. After two blasts from a shotgun, Mr Hussain was left dead in an alleyway.

His murder – for which Natnael Tesfay, 21, was convicted today – was part of a long-running feud between Mr Hussain’s GMG and DA, their postcode rivals. “This case is a terrifying example of how gangs ruin lives,” said Detective Chief Inspector John Sandlin of Scotland Yard.

The Independent can reveal that the shooting had the unintended consequence of exacerbating a cycle of violence that has left at least three people dead over two-and-a-half years.

Mr Hussain’s father, Abdi, has now lost two sons to Britain’s vicious gang wars. He learnt during the first of two trials of his son’s alleged killers that his estranged second son had been arrested for another murder. Five months after Mohammed was gunned down in April 2013, Hussain Hussain fatally stabbed a young fitness instructor in the back. That killing was in Leicester, where Hussain – a known London gang member – moved after being released from prison.

The murder of the fitness coach, Antoin Akpom, followed a confrontation when Hussain and a friend crossed into the victim’s territory during a long-running rivalry between gangs in Leicester.

Hussain had claimed self-defence, but was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in jail. He will serve a minimum of 15 years.

“I am satisfied this was yet more offending arising out of postcode rivalry, in which you were steeped,” said Judge John Griffith-Williams last month at Stafford Crown Court. “While you were not a member of any Leicester postcode gang, you were more than happy to join in the violence.”

Acquaintances of Mr Akpom were accused of seeking their own revenge on the night. But the mob allegedly got the wrong house, killing Shehnila Taufiq, 47, her sons Jamal, 15, and Bilal, 17, and daughter Zainab, 19, who had nothing to do with the feud and died when they were trapped by the flames. Eight men are currently on trial for the family’s murder.

Abdi Hussain, a security guard who left the chaos of civil war in Somalia for a new life in Britain, did not go to Stafford in April to see his estranged son convicted. But he has been in court in south-west London for the trial of the man accused of killing his older son, Mohammed. Three others accused of involvement were cleared at a trial last year. At one of their homes, police found a green hooded top printed with “RIP Negus McLean”, suggesting a possible motive beyond the long-standing feud between the two gangs.

“They were seven years old when they came here and they grew up in this culture,” Abdi Hussain said about this sons. “I was on duty when someone called me, telling me my son [Mohammed] has been shot dead. I regret that they came here. The community is dying; the family is breaking up.”

He added: “They saw me as an old-style father, so they didn’t listen to me.”

Hussain Hussain had long been connected to London’s teenage gangland. He had criminal convictions for affray and violent disorder and was questioned over the fatal stabbing of Negus McLean in April 2011.

Negus, who was 15 when he was killed, was the third person to be stabbed in a week amid growing tensions between DA and the Hussain brothers’ GMG.

He died at the hands of a “hunting posse” of seven boys on BMX bikes who rode out in search of a victim. They chased Negus who came off his bike and was repeatedly stabbed in the chest and legs.

“It should have stopped with Negus,” said his mother, Ingrid Adams. “It was a beautiful Sunday that Negus went out and never came back.

“It’s so stupid. There are people out there who think that they’re bad – but they need to grow up. Mums and dads need to wake up.

“If you go to a graveside in a cemetery, do you know how many young people are there? They could have cured Aids; they could have done so many things and they are just dead. We have to forgive. What can you do?”

Four teenagers – all members of the Get Money Gang – were eventually charged with the stabbing of Negus McLean and stood trial in April last year, despite the murder of Mohammed Hussain on the eve of their trial. They were convicted and given life sentences, with one told he would serve a minimum of 19 years.

Attempts were made by the authorities to contact Hussain Hussain and associates of Negus McLean following Mohammed Hussain’s murder, to try to end the cycle of violence. But Hussain Hussain had been unwilling to engage. He told his trial that he had inherited a large amount of cash from his brother on his death and had moved to Leicester three weeks before Mr Akpom was killed. Why he moved there remains unclear.

He had contacts in the city through his time at Feltham Young Offenders’ Institute. But his father said that police had been involved in the move to get him away from London’s gang violence.

Scotland Yard said it was “not prepared to discuss arrangements that may or may not have been made for individuals”.

It emerged that Hussain Hussain had been walking down the road with another man when they were confronted by Mr Akpom, 20, a passenger in a car that had been driving past.

Mr Akpom soon left, but came back armed with a dumb-bell and was followed by a group of other people.

Hussain Hussain pulled out his knife – stopping some members of the group in their tracks – and then tussled with Mr Akpom, stabbing him in the back and puncturing a lung.

Hussain Hussain fled to London that night by taxi. He packed up a parcel containing several thousand pounds, according to a driver, and tried to take a flight to Amsterdam or Marrakech.

However, as a refugee from Somalia, he needed a visa. Instead he took a taxi to Cardiff where he was arrested.

The parents of the murder victims have not met, but they share bewilderment and grief at what happened to their families and how it changed all of their lives.

“I never realised it would continue like this,” said Mrs Adams. “I don’t even know what has gone on, to be honest. If it was revenge, it would have been straight away, not two years after.

“I feel sorry for that man. He lost two sons and that’s really sad.”

Timeline: Warring factions

April 2011 Negus McLean, 15, of Dem Africans, killed by a “hunting posse” from the rival Get Money Gang.

April 2013 Mohammed Hussain of the Get Money Gang is killed by a double shotgun blast.

May 2013 Four members of the Get Money Gang are convicted of murdering  Negus McLean and receive life sentences.

September 2013 Antoin Akpom killed in a street fight with Hussain Hussain, Mohammed’s brother. On the same night, four members of the Taufiq family – a mother and three teenage children – die in a blaze at their home, wrongly targeted by a group in retaliation for the murder of Akpom, a court hears.

April 2014 Hussain Hussain found guilty of the murder of Akpom and sentenced to life in prison.

May 2014 Natnael Tesfay, 21, found guilty of the murder of Mohammed Hussain.

News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform