It has been over a decade since Sheffield music promoter Lester Divers, 32, was shot at point blank range in a ‘professional gangland killing’ as he sat in his car on Freedom Road in Walkley on New Year’s Day 2003.
Gunman Michael Ullah admitted firing the sawn-off shotgun, and he was jailed for life. But the prosecution alleged during the trial it was Craig Allen who had masterminded the murder.
Allen, who was by then living in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, was found not guilty, and walked free from Sheffield Crown Court an innocent man. He always maintained he had no involvement in the killing.
He had been a cook and barman at The Mango Tree restaurant on London Road, where Ullah also worked. Afterwards the restaurant was fire bombed several times.
Kevin Ernest Smith, from Barnsley, was convicted of being Ullah’s getaway driver. Smith, then 42, and Ullah, then 37, were both handed life sentences. Ullah was ordered to serve a minimum of 16 years and Smith, who was on day release from prison when he acted as Ullah’s accomplice, was ordered to serve 18 years.
Ullah claimed he had only ‘struck first’ because he lived in fear of being kidnapped by another criminal gang.