Derby

Former 'dangerous' gang leader thanks police for prison

Carlus Grant
Image caption Carlus Grant was described by a police officer who caught him as "about as dangerous as you could get"

An ex-gang leader who served 10 years in prison for a shooting has thanked the police chief who locked him up.

Carlus Grant once ran what police called Derby's most violent criminal gang and was put behind bars in 2009.

Meeting Derbyshire Constabulary's then Ch Supt Andy Hough, he said his jail time helped him change his ways.

Now Mr Grant advises organisations on gang culture and warns young people about being groomed into a life of crime and violence.

A decade ago the 34-year-old had a dangerous reputation and headed up the notorious A1 Crew.

But having served his sentence at HMP Grendon - a therapeutic community prison - he said he has "another chance at life".

"I could have ended up dead," he said.

"I could have ended up killing somebody. Who knows what would have happened.

"Without prison, I don't think I would have found a way out."

Image caption Carlus said he is indebted to Andy Hough for jailing him and helping him to change his life

Mr Grant was caught after he ordered the shooting of a man at a house party in Derby's Allenton area in 2008.

"At that time Carlus was about as dangerous as you could get," said Mr Hough.

"He has the potential to have so much influence over young people. He can now show them that's not a life you want to take, and can be a very positive role model if he wants to be."

Mr Grant said he was "lured" into dealing drugs when he was a teenager with gifts from older criminals.

Aged 16, he used money he had stolen to buy his first gun, establishing a gang with a friend and recruiting teenagers to carry out their crimes.

They continued to buy more weapons and were making thousands of pounds selling cocaine each week.

Image caption Carlus was arrested after a man was shot in the leg outside a Derby house in 2008

Mr Grant admitted he "terrorised" Allenton but said he was "100% sorry" for what he did.

"I feel in some respects the damage we caused the community is kind of irreversible now," he said.

"It's far from a glamorous lifestyle.

"I feel like I owe a debt of trying to help, and that is why I continue to do my bit for the community and show them another way of dealing with conflict."

His turning point came while in jail when he heard of the death of 15-year-old Kadeem Blackwood, killed in a gang-related feud in Derby.

He joined a prison programme in which inmates discussed and acknowledged the harm they had caused.

"I just couldn't believe it had ended like that," he said.

"Part of me did feel we'd created this whole negative atmosphere, this gang culture, and for that I feel responsible."

Image caption Carlus said he feels the damage his gang caused is "irreversible now"

Analysis

By Jeremy Ball, social affairs correspondent, East Midlands Today

Carlus Grant earned a grim notoriety, just as a wave of gun crime was sweeping through many of Britain's larger cities.

The police were worried he and his friends were repeating that pattern in Derby.

Now he's served 10 years in prison, Carlus wants to move on.

Every year he sends a Christmas card to thank the prison that helped him change and refuses to be known by his old "street name".

So could his old reputation give Carlus credibility to influence a new generation?

Derby's former police commander, Andy Hough, certainly thinks so.

But Carlus has only been out of jail for a year, and still has to prove he's changed. He knows he'll be judged by his actions not his words.

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