A senior judge has warned of rival gangs ‘marauding’ around the streets of Sheffield ‘wielding guns and knives’ as part of a deadly feud which has claimed two lives.
High Court judge Sir Nicholas Green made the comments as he oversaw the eight-week trial into the murder of Jordan Thomas, who was shot dead as he sat in a car on Derek Dooley Way last December.
In a legal ruling that can now be made public after the trial ended, he said: “This case concerns two rival gangs marauding around Sheffield dealing in drugs and wielding guns and knives and shooting at each other.”
Police today insisted gang violence was not a ‘major problem’ in Sheffield and efforts to tackle it are succeeding, with the number of serious and fatal shootings being reduced by more than half in the last five years.
Between 2005 and 2010, there were 62 serious and fatal firearm offences in Sheffield. Between 2010 and 2015, there have been 30.
Mr Thomas’ death was part of a long-running feud between two rival gangs – one made up of Somali men from Broomhall and the other involving people from Pitsmoor and Burngreave – that had previously resulted in the death of a man called Mubarak Ali in 2011.
Jordan’s cousin James Knowles was convicted of manslaughter over the death of Mr Ali and his death came about as part of a ‘thirst for revenge’ for the Broomhall gang, who viewed the 22-year-old as the ‘nearest available substitute’ for Knowles.
It can now be reported that Mr Justice Green raised concerns about delays to the Jordan Thomas murder trial hampering police attempts to stop ‘gang warfare’ in the city.
During the trial, Adrian Waterman QC made two applications to discharge the jury in relation to the case against Asif Yousaf, who was eventually cleared of murder and attempted murder at the conclusion of the trial.
The first application related to a ‘conflict’ between Mr Yousaf and his solicitors, with the second connected to a ‘new line of inquiry relevant to his defence’.
But on both occasions, Mr Justice Green refused the applications – partly on the basis of public interest grounds to ensure the trial would be completed.
In the first ruling he said ‘the interests and safety of the public’ was one of the reasons to endeavour to bring it to a conclusion.
In the second ruling on November 5, Mr Justice Green said the groups connected to the feud may have been involved in other shootings in Sheffield.
He said he had heard evidence which ‘reinforced the importance in my mind of the jury being allowed to come to verdicts’.
Mr Justice Green added: “This included evidence about other shooting incidents in Sheffield possibly involving the same groups of feuding males.
“This present prosecution reflects an attempt by the police and CPS to proscribe gang warfare using firearms in the city.
“There is a powerful public interest in the trial not being delayed save for very good reason.”
Jama Ahmed, 26, of Broomhall Place, and a member of the Somali drug dealing gang, was sentenced to life for his part in the ‘cold-blooded execution’ of Mr Thomas after he helped arrange the murder.