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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Sasha Johnson: Case against 4 men accused of shooting collapses

T

he prosecution of four men accused over the shooting of black equal rights campaigner Sasha Johnson at a 30th birthday party in May 2021 has collapsed.

Ms Johnson, a mother-of-two, was shot in the head during a silent disco at a house party in Peckham, south London, early on Sunday May 23 last year.

Four men – Prince Dixon, 25, of Gravesend, Kent, Troy Reid, 20 of Southwark, Cameron Deriggs, 19, of Lewisham, and Devonte Brown, 19, of Southwark – were all due to stand trial at the Old Bailey next month.

They faced charges of conspiracy to murder over Ms Johnson’s shooting and possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

However at a hearing on Tuesday, prosecutor Mark Heywood QC announced that the whole criminal case was being abandoned, after a CPS review.

The four men, appearing on videolink from maximum security Belmarsh prison where they have been held since being charged, embraced each other when the news was announced in court.

They are now due to be set free from prison.

Ms Johnson, 28, an outspoken advocate for black equality rights, a founding member of the Taking The Initiative Party and a prominent figure in the Black Lives Matter movement, was initially described as being in “critical” condition in hospital.

She continues to receive treatment in hospital, but her condition is now said to be serious but stable.

A trial of the four men had been scheduled for March 7

Mr Justice Hilliard QC recorded formal not guilty verdicts against the defendants after the prosecution offered no evidence.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the Met’s Commander Alison Heydari said officers had “established that Sasha had been at a party at a house on Consort Road in Peckham early on Sunday morning.

“Around 3am a group of four black males dressed in dark colored clothing entered the garden of the property and discharged a firearm.

“They had left the scene before the officers arrived.

“We are aware of Sasha’s involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK and I understand the concern this will cause to some communities – however I wish to stress that at this time there is nothing to suggest Sasha was the victim of a targeted attack “

The reason for today’s decision was not disclosed on open court, but Mr Heywood said the prosecution had been “left with no alternative” other than dropping the case.

The senior prosecutor told the court the incident was a “deliberate shooting” at partygoers at the Peckham home, when four males in balaclavas had approached the house and discharged a weapon at guests, with one round striking Ms Johnson in the head at “very close range”.

It was said there had been a “falling out” and “hostility” between Deriggs and Brown and the two youngest occupants of the house, who were aged 18.

There had been previous incidents and a panic alarm had been installed at the family home just days before, the court heard.

Access to the party was restricted by security at a side gate and one of the attackers was carrying a handgun, probably a Glock loaded with 9mm bullets, the court heard.

Mr Heywood said: “During the confrontation a single shot was discharged from the weapon after a re-load.

“That discharged round struck Sasha Johnson, then aged 27, at very close range.

“Ms Johnson was present as a close friend of the family living there. She was then in a relationship with the oldest son.”

She suffered a penetrating wound to the side of the head and remains in hospital with “catastrophic permanent damage” as a result, Mr Heywood said.

He said the case against the defendants for an alleged conspiracy was based on “circumstantial evidence” and there was no direct evidence identifying any of them.

The core evidence came from contact with each other, phone data and their movements, the court heard.

The prosecutor made clear that there was nothing to suggest Ms Johnson was targeted because of her anti-racism campaigning and involving in the BLM movement.

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World Nation News Desk
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