Three jailed for Thusha Kamaleswaran shooting
Thursday 19 April 2012
Three men jailed for life for a gang-related shooting that left a five-year-old girl paralysed were told today their ruthless crime was "an attack on society itself".
Nathaniel Grant, Anthony McCalla and Kazeem Kolawole were given life sentences at the Old Bailey for gunning down Thusha Kamaleswaran at her aunt's south London shop in March last year.
They were hunting for a rival gang member when Grant opened fire into the store, hitting shopper Roshan Selvakumar in the face and Thusha in the chest.
Passing sentence today Judge Martin Stephens QC told them: "Not one of you has, in my judgment, shown a sliver of remorse."
He went on: "This is an exceptional case of the utmost gravity.
"Shooting into a shop, a confined space where it was known there were people present, is an attack on society itself by men who saw themselves as outside the law and above the law."
The trio were found guilty last month of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Thusha and Mr Selvakumar, as well as attempted murder of their intended victim Roshaun Bryan.
Grant will serve a minimum of 17 years, and Kolawole and McCalla at least 14 years.
The judge told them: "Much of what you did was captured on CCTV and has been shown on television screens across the land.
"One can only imagine the effect on the public when they saw what you had done."
He said Kolawole, 19, of Kennington, south east London; McCalla, 20, of Streatham, south London; and Grant, 21, of Camberwell, south east London had gone out with a "determined, premeditated intention to kill" that day.
Judge Stephens continued: "Mr Selvakumar was hit in the head but miraculously survived with a piece of bullet remaining in his head.
"Five-year-old Thusha, who was dancing around with her family in the shop, was hit in the body. Only the skill and devotion of the medical teams who became involved saved her life but she remains paralysed below her chest and this condition is permanent.
"This simple but devastating statement of the essential facts of the case illustrate the gravity of these offences."
Kolawole has a previous conviction for affray; McCalla for robbery, affray, possessing an offensive weapon with intent and violent disorder; and Grant for robbery and possession of an offensive weapon.
Grant was also previously acquitted of a shooting in which an 18-year-old was gunned down as he walked into a branch of Costcutter in south London.
Today the judge said the trio posed "a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm in the future".
He said: "You, Grant, were the gunman and the other two your fully supportive lieutenants backing up all your actions to the hilt and giving you the support and encouragement to carry out these terrible deeds."
The three men were members of the Brixton-based OC (Organised Criminals) gang, and were on the hunt for a member of their bitter rivals ABM (All Bout Money).
Thusha was hit in the chest and the bullet passed through the seventh vertebra of her spine.
She went into cardiac arrest twice and had to undergo emergency surgery in the shop and at hospital, and is now permanently paralysed.
Mr Selvakumar has bullet fragments lodged in his head that cannot safely be removed.
In a statement released through the police, Thusha's parents Jeyakumar Ghanasekaram and his wife Sharmila Kamaleswaran thanked emergency services for saving their daughter's life.
They said: "We are very happy justice has been done."
In a victim impact statement, Mrs Kamaleswaran said she had suffered severe insomnia since the shooting.
Re-living the aftermath of the attack, she said: "To see her lying in a hospital bed just took all of my heart away. My other children were crying. They couldn't understand why this had happened. I can not think of a worse time in my life.
"It is so difficult now to see that her condition has brought all her dreams of being an aspiring dancer and musician to a shattering end and that all her practice of both from a young age has all been in vain.
"It is hard for all at home to see an innocent child who had been hopping around like a little rabbit, playing with her siblings and friends now paralysed for life.
"Whilst tears roll from her eyes, Thusha will often mournfully say "I miss my school friends and teachers terribly and I now have to live like this for the rest of my life."
Speaking outside court, Detective Superintendent Gordon Allison said the only time the men had apologised or shown any remorse was when they were seeking to reduce their prison sentences.
He said: "To the gang members in London: Trident gang command is here. Should you wish to leave gangs, we will engage with you and help you.
"If you do not want to leave gangs and you want to go on with your criminality, we will come after you."
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