Four men have been found guilty of a conspiracy to murder a man by shooting him with a sawn-off shotgun through a letterbox, a year to the day after the incident.
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.
Following a 10-week trial at St Albans Crown Court, the following verdicts were reached by the jury:
Anthony McLaughlin, 27 (14.12.89), of Croxley Green, Hertfordshire was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.
Leon Usher, 39 (7.05.78), of Barton-le-Clay was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.
Christopher Kerr, 31 (2.07.86), of Wyvill Road, Brixton was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.
Wayne Holness, 23 (14.09.94) of Cheltenham Road, Peckham was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.
They will be sentenced on Thursday, 7 December.
Detective Constable Martin Reader, of the Met’s Trident and Area Command, said: “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: “A thorough enquiry conducted jointly by Trident officers and colleagues from Hertfordshire Constabulary has resulted in convictions of these very dangerous men who are now likely to receive substantial prison sentences. My Trident team spent many hours piecing together the movements of the defendants by analysing mobile phone contacts and vehicle movements.”
A fifth defendant, Michael Smith, 26 (21.09.91) of South Norwood was found not guilty.