A “notorious" Birmingham gang member has been found guilty of shooting a man dead after two rival crews clashed at a city snooker hall − and now faces life behind bars.
Tafarwa Beckford shot Derek Junior Myers in the chest and jaw with a handgun outside the Big Bang club in Soho Hill, Hockley, in the early hours of 30 October 2015.
Trouble flared when warring factions of the Burger Bar gang − intent on violence following a fall-out between members − came together at 4am in the snooker club’s entrance hall.
The dispute spilled into the street and quickly escalated as punches were thrown and Marvin Duffas − a close ally of Beckford’s − was stabbed and shot five times at close range in an attack that left him permanently brain damaged.
Less than a minute later Beckford − intent on revenge having seen Duffas critically injured − caught up with the man he suspected of pulling the trigger.
But instead of opening fire at him, Beckford turned his gun on the suspect’s right-hand-man, 25-year-old Derek Myers, in a callous act to “even the score".
Despite around 150 people being in the club on the night, and many onlookers witnessing the shootings, West Midlands Police detectives were met with a wall of silence and only a handful of people came forward to provide statements.
However, a meticulous investigation saw officers trawl through CCTV − including camera footage from a bus passing at the time of the violence − and with the help of visual imagery experts pieced together the movements of all the parties involved.
Beckford − from Duchess Road, Ladywood, and known as “Dreads" due to his distinctive dreadlocks − was identified as a key suspect and tracked down to an address in Tividale where he was found hiding 15 days later.
The 36-year-old, who’d shaved his head in an attempt to change his appearance and avoid capture, was later charged with murder and at Birmingham Crown Court today (Fri 14 Dec)) he was found guilty by a jury.
He will be sentenced next week and has been told he could serve at least 30 years in prison.
Another man, Martin Pinnock from Westbourne Road in Handsworth, had stood trial accused of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.
It was alleged the 38-year-old passed a gun to Myers in response to Beckford walking in to the Big Bang club with his hood up and face covered alongside his associates − but a jury found him not guilty following a trial in March this year.
Beckford has been implicated in two previous murder cases: he was charged with the murder of Chris Clarke in 2000 before later admitting violent disorder and stood trial over the fatal shooting of teenage friends Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare in 2003 but was cleared by a jury.
Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Payne said the conviction represented a significant strike at the heart of gang activity in Birmingham and that communities should feel reassured with Beckford behind bars.
He added: “Beckford is a dangerous man with a notorious history of involvement in gang violence who we suspect is linked to other shootings. He is now a convicted killer…and he’s looking at spending upwards of 30 years behind bars.
“We still have small pockets of gangs operating in Birmingham who think they can carry guns and flout the law. This verdict shows we are prepared to reach right to the top of gangs and bring them to justice.
“Our officers are working around the clock to close-in on individuals or gangs who bring fear to our communities. We’re disrupting crime networks, seizing weapons and punishing people who believe they can carry firearms with impunity.
“There must be no let-up in our approach to tackling firearms.
“But this case should also act as a stark warning to teenage boys and young men who are lured into gangs believing it to be an attractive proposition. This gang spat left one man dead, another with permanent brain damage, others injured, one man jailed for life and others facing several years behind bars.
“These are the risks young men take if they affiliate themselves with gangs."
The .44 calibre lead-cast bullets used to kill Myers were forensically linked by National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) experts to the bullet moulds at the Gloucester home of corrupt armourer Paul Edmunds.
And a Colt revolver used to shoot Marvin Duffas − shown on CCTV inside the Big Bang club being passed to Myers − was also shown to have been smuggled into the UK from the US in April 2014 by Edmunds.
The 66-year-old − who’d falsely claimed the gun was a legal antique − was jailed last December for 30 years for conspiring to transfer guns and bullets.
That gun was found by West Midlands Police on 11 December 2015 hidden in the bedroom of an address in Rawlins Street, Birmingham, alongside 12 rounds of ammunition.
Deanne Gordon, aged 35, admitted storing the Colt Police Positive pistol at her home address; it’s suspected she was holding the gun for a gang member.
As part of the West Midlands Police investigation another woman, 25-year-old Shyan Wright, was also found to have stored a firearm for Burger Bar gang members at her home in Forrester Street, Walsall. She was also jailed for five years.
Two more gang members were jailed for their part in the disorder.
Jerome Christie (20) from Vauxhall Road, Nechells, was jailed for a total of four years and 10 months for affray and drugs offences, while 26-year-old Anthony Pinnock from Lodge Road in Hockley was given an 18-month prison term for affray.
And fellow gang member Ezra Stewart − arrested as part of the enquiry after being spotted on CCTV at the snooker club − was also jailed for money laundering.
Detectives evidenced how Stewart, from St Andrews Road, Bordesley Green, was living a lifestyle far beyond any declared income and was instead funded through crime − and he was jailed for almost four years.
West Midlands Police also stripped him of £11,000 in cash following a Proceeds of Crime investigation. Another £82,000 of the confiscation order is outstanding − but the debt will hang over him for life and investigators can take any cash or assets he accrues in future.