Guernsey Press

Teenager ‘may have accidentally shot friend in the head before shooting himself’

Jaydon Beckford, 17, was found dead days after he is believed to have accidentally shot his friend Diego Henry, 16.


A teenager may have shot his childhood friend in the head when the gun went off “inadvertently” before he fatally shot himself, an inquest has heard.

Jaydon Beckford, 17, was found dead near a canal in Birmingham on November 10 last year, five days after he is believed to have shot his friend Diego Henry, 16, who died in hospital on November 7.

An inquest into the death of Diego, who was described by his mother Donna Johnson as having an “infectious laugh that would light up the room”, heard on Monday that the pair had known each other since primary school and were good friends.

The pair had been with another friend at the home Jaydon shared with his mother in Lighthorne Avenue, Ladywood, on November 5 when Diego was shot in the left side of his head.

In a statement, Jaydon’s mother Leah Hussain described Diego, from Hockley, as a “beautiful boy” who, on arriving at their home that morning, had given her a hug and said “hello auntie” before he went into the lounge with Jaydon and the other friend.

She described walking into the living room in the maisonette and seeing Diego slumped in a chair, while the other friend, who was not named during the inquest, looked “shell-shocked” and her son was not there.

While emergency services arrived and gave Diego cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the inquest heard that Jaydon was seen on CCTV running away towards the city’s canal system with his right hand in his pocket.

As Diego was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, Jaydon and the other friend were being treated as suspects for attempted murder which was upgraded to murder after Diego’s life support was turned off two days later.

Ballistics expert Huw Griffiths said the trajectory of the bullet, which had entered the left side of Diego’s temple and lodged in the right side of his brain, would have been “difficult” to achieve had he shot himself, but added he could not rule out that the injury was self-inflicted.

In an interview with police, the other friend at the scene of the shooting gave a prepared statement saying he was good friends with Diego and Jaydon and the trio had been getting on well before he heard a loud bang and Diego fell to the floor.

He said he was “not in custody, control or possession of the firearm” and did not encourage anyone to shoot Diego.

While he called 999 after Diego was shot, the friend did not remain at the scene until the ambulance service arrived, but also did not attempt to hide or get rid of his clothing, area coroner James Bennett said at Birmingham Coroner’s Court.

Detective Sergeant David Newson of West Midlands Police told the inquest that while the friend was initially arrested, based on the evidence, he was no longer being treated as a suspect but as a witness.

He said: “Jaydon was being treated as a suspect and police were actively searching for him.

“There is no evidence that after Jaydon left his home, he was in contact with anyone else.

“He was found near the canal on November 10 deceased. Underneath his body was a handgun, a revolver.”

Expert evidence indicated that Jaydon had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, but the bullet had exited his body and was never found.

Describing what he believed happened, Det Sgt Newson said: “All three boys were in the living room and Jaydon had discharged the gun at Diego and it caused the fatal injury.

“We came to the view that there wasn’t evidence to link the third friend to the shooting of Diego. Jaydon was more likely the perpetrator of the act.

“There is no evidence there was any animosity between them. The working hypothesis was that it was accidental discharge.”

Mr Bennett said: “It does seem to me that on the balance of probabilities, the evidence supports the gun going off inadvertently and it was not malicious.

“There is a degree of uncertainty about what exactly happened, so I think it is best if I simply return a conclusion that Diego’s death was the consequence of a single gunshot wound to the head.”

In a statement read to the court, Ms Johnson, who was in court with her two daughters, said she was heartbroken at the loss of her youngest child, who went to City Academy and was hoping to pursue a construction apprenticeship.

It said: “He lit up the room with his dancing, his jokes and his infectious laugh and would be remembered for his love of music.

“He enjoyed expressing himself through music, he would write tracks and spend time in the recording studio. His family describe him as having manners and respect.”

An inquest into the death of Jaydon is expected to be heard at the same court on Thursday.

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