Letterbox shooters, who targeted the wrong man, jailed for a total of 100 years

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Four men, including a man from Barton le Clay, who conspired to murder a man by shooting him with a sawn-off shotgun through a letterbox have been sentenced to a combined total of 100 years’ in prison.

On Thursday, 7 December, the four men were each sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment after they were found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.

Leon Usher aged 39 of Bartoon le Clay, Anthony McLaughlin, 27, of Croxley Green, Hertfordshire. Christopher Kerr, 31, of Wyvill Road, Brixton and Wayne Holness, 23 of Cheltenham Road, Peckham. had denied the charges.

The shooting incident, which took place in South Oxhey in Watford, was investigated by detectives from the Met’s Trident and Area Crime Command, in partnership with Hertfordshire Constabulary.

Detailed analysis of mobile phone communication revealed two of the men – Christopher Kerr and Wayne Holness - had travelled from London to Hertfordshire to carry out the shooting on the evening of 1 December last year.

Throughout the evening, these men had been in contact with two others – Anthony McLaughlin and Leon Usher - who helped plan and arrange the shooting.

The investigation revealed the man who was shot had not actually been the intended target of the conspiracy.

The victim, who suffered a gunshot injury to his leg, had been living in the house temporarily.

A forensic scientist who analysed the shotgun, ammunition and the scene of the shooting concluded that it could have caused a fatal injury but this had been avoided by the metal letterbox flap and the fact the victim had been positioned slightly to the side of where the gun was fired.

As a result of the shooting, the victim spent three-and-a-half weeks in hospital and still suffers constant pain in his leg.

The day after the shooting, Trident officers carried out an intelligence-led search warrant at an address on John Street in Croydon.

Officers also searched a Ford Fiesta registered at the address, and discovered a sawn-off shotgun as well as seven rounds of ammunition and a bag of cannabis.

The shotgun and cartridges found in the car were later examined by a firearms specialist and, although it was not possible to determine definitively whether it was the gun used in the shooting, it was the prosecution case that there was an “overwhelming probability” it was the gun.

The four men were found guilty of conspiracy to murder after a 10-week trial at St Albans Crown Court.

Detective Constable Martin Reader, of the Met’s Trident and Area Command, said: “I am pleased with the custodial sentences handed to these men which reflect the potentially deadly outcome of this incident. These four men conspired together to organise the shooting and attempted murder of a man through the cowardly use of a shotgun pushed through a letterbox. Had it not been for the fact the victim was standing slightly to the side of the front door, this would have resulted in a fatality.”

Detective Chief Inspector Adam Lowe, the senior investigating officer, said: “As a result of a lengthy, intelligence-led enquiry, conducted jointly by Trident officers and colleagues from Hertfordshire Constabulary, four men have been sentenced to a total of 100 years in jail. My Trident team spent many hours piecing together the movements of the defendants by analysing mobile phone contacts and vehicle movements.”