Young man shot dead ‘by mistake’ in rival turf war, court hears

Hamza Ul Haq, 21, of Burden Way, Wanstead, Loic Nengese, 19, of Walthamstow and a 16-year-old are on

Hamza Ul Haq, 21, of Burden Way, Wanstead, Loic Nengese, 19, of Walthamstow and a 16-year-old are on trial at the Old Bailey. Picture: Google - Credit: Google

A young man was shot dead by mistake in a “ruthless and planned attack” as part of a bloody turf war by rival youths, a court has heard.

Joseph Williams-Torres, 20, was targeted by three hooded youths including one from Wanstead as he sat in a van with a friend in Walthamstow on the evening of March 14 last year.

The attackers spied Mr Williams-Torres, pulled out a gun and fired before running off in less than two minutes, the Old Bailey heard today (October 29).

The victim was hit in the chest and legs, dying on his way to hospital less than an hour later.

Prosecutor Allison Hunter QC said: "This was clearly a targeted attack on the man sitting in the van on Essex Close that night. The baffling question is why."

She said the answer lay in the fact the shooting was part of a series of related and "retaliatory" acts of violence with roots in a dispute between rival groups.

Hamza Ul Haq, 21, of Burden Way, Loic Nengese, 19, of Walthamstow and a 16-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, are accused of the murder.

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They were captured on CCTV and the youth allegedly dropped his mobile phone at the scene, the court heard.

Ms Hunter said the defendants were friends associated with the Mali Boys group.

She said the Mali Boys had become increasingly confrontational and angry since the murder of one of their own, Elijah Dornelly, in May 2017.

They were engaged in a "turf war" with others, in particular a group known as Priory Court or Higham Hill, jurors heard.

In November 2017, Mr Ul Haq had been squirted with acid and another Mali boy was stabbed by a group of masked, hooded males in Walthamstow, the court heard.

Mr Ul Haq allegedly presumed it was the Priory Court/Higham Hill rivals as they set out to avenge the attack on March 14, jurors were told.

Ms Hunter said: "Joseph Williams-Torres, however, was murdered by mistake. It was undoubtedly a ruthless and planned attack on a rival group member, but he was not the intended target.

"They had, it would appear, mistakenly identified him for another."

She said the intended target was the same height and build and even wore the same beanie hat as Mr Williams-Torres.

The defendants deny murder. The trial continues.