Judge: 'Overwhelmingly probable' Sheffield drive-by shooting victim was murdered over drug dealing dispute
Jailing three murderers for life, Judge Stephen Males said it is 'overwhelmingly probable' that a Sheffield man shot dead in the street was killed over a drug dealing dispute.
Earlier today, Judge Males jailed Matthew Cohen, 29, Dale Gordon, 33, and Keil Bryan, 32, for life, each to serve a minimum sentence of 30 years, for the murder of Aseel Al-Essaie.
Mr Al-Essaie was just 23-years-old when he was shot dead from a single bullet from a ‘Dirty Harry-style’ long-barreled revolver that was fired from the front seat window of a VW Golf as he sat on his own in a Mercedes in Daniel Hill, Upperthorpe at around 1.35pm on February 18 last year.
The trio were found unanimously guilty on the basis Mr Al-Essaie’s murder was carried out as part of a ‘joint enterprise,’ with Cohen driving the VW Golf, Gordon as the front-seat passenger, and Bryan as the back seat passenger.
Examining the possible motive for the murder of Mr Al-Essaie, who is believed to have been a Class A drug dealer, Judge Males told Sheffield Crown Court: "It is not entirely clear why you decided that Aseel had to be shot. We may never know precisely.
"However, both he and his brother, Saleh, were street dealers in Class A drugs and there was evidence of previous incidents of violence or threatened violence towards both of them by Matthew Cohen. It is overwhelmingly probable that, whatever the precise reason, it had to do with a dispute over the supply of such drugs."
He added: "Whatever may be said about the way in which Aseel earned his living, he was a young man, only 23, much loved by his family, who did not deserve to be shot down in cold blood’.”
In the hours following Mr Al-Essaie’s murder, James Good, 30, burnt out Cohen’s VW Golf, at Cohen’s request, in a bid to destroy a vital piece of evidence. It was later found abandoned in Rough Lane, Ecclesfield
Cohen and Good were both charged with perverting the course of justice, in relation to this, and both eventually admitted the offence during the course of the trial.
Judge Males sentenced Good, of Ringstead Crescent, Crosspool to three years, three months for the offence and Cohen to three years, 11 months, which will run concurrently to his 30-year minimum life sentence.
He said: “In assessing the gravity of this offence it is necessary to take account of the seriousness of the substantive offence...In this case, the substantive offence, murder, could hardly be more serious.”
Cohen, of Clough View Road, Oughtibridge appeared for the hearing at Sheffield Crown Court via video link at HMP Wakefield, while Bryan, Brackley Street, Burngreave and Good were present in court.
Gordon, Benty Lane, Crosspool did not attend the sentencing, after refusing to come to court. His barrister, Mark George QC, said he would have appeared via video link from HMP Doncaster, but one could not be arranged.