Murder and mayhem outside Ministry of Sound
- 16 August 2010
- From the section UK
Two men have been jailed for life after a night of horrific violence outside one of Britain's most famous nightclubs.
Every weekend hundreds of people enjoy themselves at the Ministry of Sound, one of Britain's most popular nightclubs.
The club, in Elephant and Castle, south London, has become a global brand name in the world of dance music and attracts some of the biggest DJs in the business.
Like all clubs, there are sometimes fights, but what happened on the night of 30 August last year was extreme.
Aftab Jafferjee, QC, prosecuting, said: "This case concerns breathtaking lawlessness on the streets of London, where comparatively minor incidents inside a busy venue were responded to with murderous violence."
It all began when Ranjit Nankani, 30, from Croydon, accidentally stepped on the toes of 25-year-old Gary Johnson.
Nankani apologised but Mr Johnson and his friend, Dwayne McPherson, 28, from Sydenham, confronted Nankani and his two friends.
Bouncers broke up the fight and threw both groups out into the street, using separate exits.
It was around 4.30am and there were still scores of people milling about outside the club in Gaunt Street.
Nankani, who had drunk a mixture of brandy and champagne, went and sat in his Mitsubishi Shogun and, hidden by tinted windows, spotted McPherson and Mr Johnson ambling down the street.
The jury was shown CCTV footage of the Shogun being driven onto the pavement, knocking over a bollard.
Mr Jafferjee narrated the horrific film and told the jury: "Gary Johnson is now 65 seconds from death. It's going to be distressing to watch but it's essential. It's murder captured on CCTV."
He said: "There they are walking along with not a care in the world."
Mr Johnson's brother wept when he watched the video for the first time in court.
But his reaction was deliberately kept from the jury, who were not in court at the time for fear of prejudicing their verdict. They viewed it later.
The footage shows the Shogun accelerating, hurling Mr Johnson against a wall, killing him instantly.
The Shogun then crashed into a taxi - the two women inside were lucky to escape with their lives - and ground to a halt, with smoke pouring from the engine.
McPherson can be seen to hesitate briefly.
But then he pulled out a gun, ran up to the crashed car and fired four shots at the driver from point blank range.
The footage showed dozens of people running towards the crashed car after the collision but then fleeing in terror as the shots rang out.
Miraculously Nankani survived, with only a minor wound to his shoulder, and ran up to two police officers. He told them: "I've been shot... they're going to kill me".
Nankani claimed he had been threatened with a gun inside the club, and was later to fabricate a version of events in an attempt to wriggle out of blame for Johnson's murder.
He claimed he got into the Shogun and then heard gunshots, panicked, ducked down behind the steering wheel and drove off in an attempt to escape being shot.
Mr Jafferjee said it was "a demonstrably false and contrived account" and said Nankani had managed to manoeuvre his way down the narrow pavement, avoiding metal bollards and a parked car, giving the lie to his claim he could not see where he was going.
Ordering Nankani to serve a minimum of 18 years, Judge Stephen Kramer told him: "What you did must have involved a degree of premeditation. It was a targeted revenge attack on a crowded public street when people were leaving the club to go home.
"You waited and you used your vehicle as a lethal weapon in the streets."
The trial was unable to resolve the question of whether McPherson had smuggled the gun into the club.
The jury was shown footage of him going through a scanner and being patted down by doormen, but Mr Jafferjee said: "With the best will in the world there is no way to prevent anyone bringing in a handgun or arranging access to a handgun."
It is thought McPherson may have smuggled the gun into the club in his underwear, a method used by another killer, Kanyanta Mulenga, who shot dead former boxer James Oyebola in a club in Fulham in 2007.
On Friday, Nankani was convicted of the murder of Mr Johnson, and McPherson was found guilty of the attempted murder of Nankani. McPherson was later jailed for life for public protection and will not be free for at least 11 years.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Dunne said: "A compelling part of this trial was the CCTV evidence that we were able to put before the jury to secure these convictions.
"Dwayne McPherson took it upon himself to gain immediate revenge for the death of his friend and shot at Nankani four times in a clear attempt to kill him."
Nankani sank to the floor of the dock when the jury foreman read out the verdict.
He shouted: "Jesus, God, my lord, I didn't know he was there. Please let me see their faces. How could they do this to me?"
He was then carried out of the dock by prison officers as relatives wept in the public gallery.
The Ministry of Sound was unavailable for comment.