Three gangsters jailed for friend’s murder in legal first

The home-side homicide case is believed to be the first of its kind to be brought in England and Wales.

Three gangsters jailed for friend’s murder in legal first

Three gangsters have been jailed for at least 29 years for the murder of their friend nicknamed “Billy the Kid” following a landmark trial.

Billy McCullagh, 27, was killed by gang rivals as his side’s revenge ride-out ended in “crushing defeat”.

He was shot twice in the back amid a hail of bullets and was left to die in a street on the Stonebridge Estate in Harlesden, north-west London, in the early hours of July 16 2020.

The person or people who fired the fatal shots were never identified, leading prosecutors to charge members of his own side who initiated the shoot-out with his murder.

In August, an Old Bailey jury convicted Issa Seed, 26, Adel Yussuf, 25, and Daniel Mensah, 32, from north-west London, of murder.

The convictions were on the basis that the men engaged in a shoot-out with the opposition in which both sides agreed to shoot and be shot at – so they fired their own guns knowing it was a virtual certainty that the other side would fire back.

On Friday, Seed, Yussuf and Mensah were each jailed for life with a minimum term of 29 years for murder.

They were handed concurrent sentences of life with a minimum term of 16 years for conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm and a determinate sentence of 15 years for possession of a firearm.

Sentencing, Judge Philip Katz KC told them: “Billy McCullagh died a very public death, gunned down in a hail of bullets on the Stonebridge estate.

“You had agreed that at least one person would be shot in the street and at least caused really serious harm.

“As soon as you got to your destination the obvious risk that any number of people would be killed is one you were prepared to take.”

What followed must have been “completely terrifying” for anyone caught up in the violence, the judge said.

He added: “I accept that the three of you never realised you would end up in the dock accused of Billy McCullagh’s murder.

“But anyone in this country who willingly participates in a gun battle in the street should not be surprised if the law holds him accountable for any loss of life as a result.”

Judge Katz noted the victim had “two sides” to him, a caring and thoughtful father-to-be – who never lived to meet his baby daughter – and Billy the Kid, the gangster.

Mr McCullagh was a prominent member of a gang collective identified by red colours and was principally associated with the Harrow Road Boys who were “at war” with the blue side, the Thugs of Stonebridge.

The court heard that Mr McCullagh’s death was part of ongoing gang war between the blue and red sides, with incidents dating back to 2018.

Between 2018 and 2020 there were at least seven shootings involving the rival gangs in the case.

A gun used in a previous murder in a case of mistaken identity was used to kill Mr McCullagh and has never been recovered, the court heard.

On the day of his death, Mr McCullagh travelled from St Raphael’s Estate in Brent in a stolen vehicle with Seed, Yussuf and Mensah armed with at least two guns.

The plan was to launch a “surprise attack” on the rival gang in retribution for the fatal stabbing of a friend the day before but instead they encountered a “gun fight”.

Jurors were told that bullets “flew in all directions” with at least eight 9mm rounds fired at the stolen Land Rover containing Mr McCullagh and the defendants.

Four bullets hit the vehicle, two rounds went into Mr McCullagh’s back, and one struck Seed in the leg.

Afterwards, Seed was taken to hospital, the vehicle was burnt out and the guns hidden.

Police pieced together events by a combination of phones, CCTV and forensic evidence.

Mr McCullagh was later “memorialised” in an online music video that was a “brazen and provocative celebration of his gang lifestyle”, Judge Katz said.

The judge said: “Police perceived that video as a threat and tried to have it taken down – without success.”

He added: “There can be little confidence that this war has ended.”

Following the verdicts, the Metropolitan Police vowed to continue the search for those who fired the fatal shots.

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