Innocent victims caught in 'gang turf war' in Brixton

It was a spring night on a busy south London road when shouts of "they're coming, they're coming" rang out.

But the warnings went unheard by five-year-old Thusha Kamaleswaran who minutes later was lying on a shop floor bleeding from a bullet wound to the chest that would mean she would never walk again.

Her attackers were three masked men on bikes - Nathaniel Grant, 20, of Camberwell, Kazeem Kolawole, 19, of Kennington, and Anthony McCalla, also 19, of Streatham.

The three men were members of a gang, known to operate in a part of Brixton, who had entered "enemy territory" a few roads away in March 2011 in pursuit of two rivals.

Grant, still on his bike, fired two shots into the Stockwell Food and Wine store on Stockwell Road, Brixton, where his target had sought shelter, the Old Bailey trial heard.

But the bullets hit shopper Roshan Selvakumar, 35, in the jaw and Thusha, who was "happily playing" in the aisles.

Prosecutor Edward Brown QC said: "Both victims were remarkably lucky. The intention of the gunman and his accomplices, to kill, was plain however.

"The gunman and his accomplices couldn't have cared less if someone else was shot too."

Det Con Richard Williamson went through 700 hours of footage gathered by about 150 CCTV cameras in the hunt for evidence.

These included four cameras inside the shop, which captured the near-fatal shooting and the events leading up to and following it.

The footage formed the main evidence presented by the prosecution and helped convict Grant, Kolawole and McCalla of grievous bodily harm with intent and the attempted murder of Roshaun Bryan.

CCTV evidence

Five hours before the attack McCalla was seen on CCTV visiting the Probation Office located opposite the shop.

The trio met up with friends about half-an-hour before the attack and fired three shots towards trees in Hammelton Green to test the gun.

The group dispersed, but minutes later they got together some distance away.

Image caption The men were caught on CCTV leading up to and after the shooting

As the masked men cycled down Brixton Road, CCTV captured them passing a police car which jurors heard was going to investigate reports of shots being fired in the green.

They "seemed unbothered" by the police car, Mr Brown said.

They spotted their targets and gave chase cutting across the traffic to reach the shop as one of their rivals hid in the store.

The gunman was still on the move when he fired the first shot, but then he stopped at the door, steadied his hand and fired into the shop again.

Both Thusha and the target were in his "line of sight", jurors heard.

'Turf war'

The footage inside the shop showed Mr Selvakumar standing near the door while Thusha, in a red cardigan, was in an aisle close to the door.

She was visiting her uncle's shop and was playing with her siblings in the stock room at the back, but moments before the shooting she had come to the front of the shop.

One man came running into the shop shouting and hurled bottles towards the door.

Mr Selvakumar saw the gunman and said he tried to shut the door when he felt "a blow to his face and a crunching sensation inside his head".

Image caption Nathaniel Grant, Anthony McCalla and Kazeem Kolawole will be sentenced in April

The second .22 calibre bullet hit Thusha.

The little girl suffered two cardiac arrests and clinically died twice, once in the shop and once on the way to hospital.

The bullet entered her chest and passed through her body injuring her spine and paralysing her throughout much of her body.

This was a "permanent condition", the jury heard, while Mr Selvakumar still has bullet fragments in his head.

As paramedics battled to save Thusha, CCTV caught the attackers parting ways and McCalla rushing home to meet his curfew. He also deleted all contacts from his mobile phone.

The next day all three threw away the clothes they wore during the attack.

The court heard Grant, McCalla and Kolawole belonged to gangs centred on the Myatts Field Estate and, despite the posturing and bravado, they feared for their lives in the "ongoing turf war".

Mr Brown said: "They had travelled prepared into enemy territory and of course prepared to use the loaded gun in what was another depressing chapter in what was then an increasingly violent series of attacks."

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