Thursday, 29 Oct 2020

Gang member who shot 12-year-old by mistake is jailed for life

A gang member who nearly killed a 12-year-old boy in a drive-by shooting has been jailed for life.

Stephen Dunford, 25, shot the boy ‘by mistake’ as he was not the intended target.

The victim was seriously injured, and doctors have never managed to remove the bullet from his thigh.

Another boy escaped death by centimetres when a second bullet passed through the hood of his top.

Sheffield Crown Court heard how the victim was with friends outside a sandwich shop in the Arbourthorne area on January 12 when he was shot in the leg by Dunford, who opened fire with a revolver from the passenger seat of stolen Ford Focus.

Another man also fired from the car, the court heard.

The court heard that the activities of Dunford’s gang had ‘engendered enormous fear’ and made the lives of residents ‘a living nightmare’.

Dunford, who was found guilty of attempted murder and other offences after a six-week trial, was told by Judge Jeremy Richardson QC today: ‘It is only a matter of good fortune and chance you did not kill them both.’

He said that, if both boys had died, Dunford would have received a whole life tariff.

Instead, Judge Richardson jailed Dunford for life with a minimum term of 19 years.

He said: ‘I have no doubt your conduct is corrosive towards society and your life is replete with irredeemable criminality.’

Judge Richardson said: ‘You pose enormous danger to the general public.’

He said: ‘It is as plain as plain could be that you have engendered immense fear on a whole section of Sheffield and have made the lives of decent citizens bordering, if not passing into, the realm of a living nightmare.

‘I wish to make it a matter of pellucid clarity that those who involve themselves with the supply of drugs and make use of firearms to protect, assist, or promote that evil trade, must receive, and will receive, very severe sentences.’

The court heard that Dunford posted a rap on social media which referenced the shooting, including the line ‘youth caught a stray’.

The judge said: ‘In the rap vocal endeavour which you were recorded as purporting to sing, which was posted on Facebook, you were making obvious mention of the shooting with a high level of glee and pride.

‘It revealed not a shred of remorse for what you did. You simply made mention of the fact a young boy was hit by mistake.

‘The true nature of your criminal conduct was also evident in the odious lyrics of that vocal delivery.’

He told Dunford that, if he had imposed a non-life sentence, he would have been jailed for 38 years.

‘I have no idea when, or if, it will ever be safe to release you,’ the judge said.

Dunford, of Arbourthorne, was found guilty of attempted murder and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

He was also convicted of another count of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life following an incident in Heeley two days before when he opened fire five times with a 9mm Makarov semi-automatic weapon.

Judge Richardson also noted that Dunford was detained for two and a half years in a young offenders institution in 2013 for discharging a firearm in the Arbourthorne area, seriously injuring a 29-year-old man.

The judge said: ‘It was the overture of what was yet to come.’

He said Dunford holds a ‘a senior, if not pivotal’ role in a criminal gang and added: ‘This also involves gang rivalry and a form of warfare with other gangs in the Heeley and Arbourthorne districts of Sheffield.’

Co-accused Brandon Bailey, 26, of Manor Park Way, Sheffield, was jailed for 10 years and six months after he was found guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and had previously pleaded guilty to possession of criminal property.

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