Gun killer sentenced to at least 26 years

Ellen Branagh,Press Association
Thursday 26 February 2009 17:39

A young gunman known as Scarface was jailed for life today for the murder of a promising teenage footballer.

Richard Harrison-Allen, 20, shot Etem Celebi dead in November 2007 as he tried to flee the scene in the Smalley Close estate, Stoke Newington, north London.

Today gang member Harrison-Allen, who was convicted of the teenager's murder earlier this month, was sentenced to a minimum of 26 years at St Albans Crown Court.

Sentencing today, Judge Phillip Clegg told the court that Etem, who was not even a member of a gang, got caught up in a conflict between the Stamford Hill Man Dem gang - of which Harrison-Allen was a member - and the Smalley Man Dem gang.

He said: "Unfortunately, that part of north London is plagued by such gangs.

"They are highly territorial and it is a cardinal sin by a member of one gang to trespass into the territory of another."

Judge Clegg said on November 14 2007, Harrison-Allen and a friend armed themselves with 9mm handguns and shot at another youth then chased him.

As they chased him into a close, they opened fire on Etem - a semi-professional footballer who represented Leyton FC in the Ryman Premier League - and his friends.

He died after he was shot in the back.

Judge Clegg said: "Quite what your motive was it was unclear but it would seem to have something to do with territory.

"Etem was not even a member of a gang. He was a very well-liked young man.

"He was only 17 and he was very excited because only that day he had got an interview as a lifeguard at the local swimming pool.

"You will never understand the utter devastation you have caused to his family and his friends."

The judge said it was concerning that young men could "readily obtain firearms" and said Harrison-Allen had thought himself immune from prosecution because he was confident that nobody would give evidence.

Harrison-Allen, from Hackney, east London, sat motionless as sentence was passed.

Harrison-Allen was convicted earlier this month at a retrial at St Albans Crown Court after a jury at the Old Bailey failed to reach a verdict at an earlier trial.

During the retrial, the court heard Etem and four friends were confronted from an alleyway by two hooded men carrying loaded guns.

After being asked "What end you from?", they took out their weapons and began to fire, prosecutor Victor Temple QC said.

Four friends fled but Etem, who took shelter behind a car, became a target as he got up to run away.

Mr Temple said: "The mere fact he was there and trying to escape led to him being killed."

Today the court heard a statement from the teenager's older brother Firat, in which he described how Etem's death had torn their family apart.

He said: "The pain and suffering that my family have gone through since that forsaken day is unbearable.

"Our hearts feel that they have been torn to pieces and our lives turned upside down.

"Every day since November 14 2007 I have cried when left alone and every time my lovely brother is spoken of, my mum and dad shed tears."

He said his brother hoped to be a lifeguard and also to pursue higher education, as he had. He also said the siblings had been planning to holiday together when Etem turned 18.

"Our memorable moments of happiness are gone in a single bullet," he said.

"Life does not seem to be worth living without him and we all as a family do not enjoy life any more."

He said his father did not speak much, and his mother struggled to speak of Etem without crying.

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