Saturday, January 09, 2010

Murder in New Cross and Thornton Heath

A 19 year old who was attacked last April in Sandford Street, New Cross, has died after being in a coma for eight months. Johnson Ndjoli died on January 5th from the injuries he sustained when he was shot, stabbed and run over by van. In November 2009, two brothers were jailed for 35 years for his attempted murder. Dwight Callender, aged 23, of Mercator Road, Lewisham, and Derrell Callender, aged 20, of Leybridge Court, Eltham, were said to have been part of the 'Shower Gang' and to have carried out the attack following an argument with Ndjoli's friend Mohammed Turay, who was also injured.

The New Year started with a murder in Thornton Heath, where the family of the victim have criticised police handling and press coverage of the crime. The Deslandes family run the Newton Arms pub in Thornton Heath. Their account is that after an argument at a New Year's Eve party, a man was ejected from the pub and came back later with a gun. 34 year old Darren Deslandes was shot dead, and and his 25 year old brother, Wintworth [Junior] Deslandes, remains in the Critical Care Unit.

The Sun, however, reported that 'Two men shot after a New Year party are believed to have taken part in a Wild West-style shootout. One man in his 30s died from gunshot wounds and the other, in his 20s, is critical after the gun battle in Thornton Heath, south London'. In the press release (reproduced in full at Black Looks) 'The Deslandes family formally demand a full apology from the Sun and a full retraction of the cruel lies they have spread about the Murder of one innocent, law abiding young man and the attempted murder of another . Wintworth and Leline have a third son, James, age 13. He witnessed the Murder of his eldest brother. His other brother is fighting for his life and his parents are irreconcilably devastated'.

What this case shows is that the magic words 'Operation Trident, the force's black-on-black gun crime taskforce, are investigating', along with innaccurate press reporting, can create complacency and indifference amongst the wider community. There is an unspoken assumption that anybody who gets shot was probably involved in gangs, maybe even deserved it, and that nobody else should worry or even care. But people with no involvement in violent crime can get killed if they argue with the wrong person, try to break up a fight or go to the aid of a friend. And even when the victims are involved in gangs, it remains a tragedy for their families and for all of us that young lives are being wasted.

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