Dropped murder case 'bound to fail'
The prosecution of three men over a gang shooting which left an innocent teenager dead has been branded a "disgrace" after charges were dropped just days before the trial was due to start.
Defence lawyers said the case was "bound to fail" after it was revealed it relied on the evidence of a single gang member, a court heard.
Shahed Nowaz, 19, from Feltham, Roshane Reid, 21, from north London and Scott Andrews, 27, from east London, were due to stand trial at the Old Bailey on Monday for the murder of Joseph Burke-Monerville in a case of mistaken identity.
The victim and his twin brother Jonathan were in the back of the parked car when three shots were fired into it on Hindrey Road, Clapton, east London, on February 16 2013.
The 19-year-old, from Islington, north London, was rushed to hospital but died later, while his twin was uninjured.
Their older brother, David Dele Bello-Monerville, 33, was also shot as he sat in the front seat but was later discharged from hospital.
At a hearing today, prosecutor Simon Denison QC offered no evidence and the three defendants were formally acquitted by judge Rebecca Poulet QC of one count of murder and two attempted murders.
Mr Denison told the court that the case hinged on a single witness who gave evidence about the defendants and his own involvement in gangs leading to "inevitable" difficulties.
He said a review at a "senior level" involving the Crown Prosecution Service, police and himself had concluded there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.
The prosecutor said: "There will be a further review after today of the procedures that have been followed to try to ensure this does not happen again.
"The families of the victims have been informed and police investigations will continue."
Henry Grunwald QC, for Reid, said it was "obvious" to anyone reading the papers that the Crown would have difficulty proving the case.
He said: "We welcome the decision that has been taken - it is the right one - but question why it's taken so long to arrive at this decision.
"Mr Reid is entitled perhaps to a greater explanation of how it's taken until now for this most serious indictment to be dropped."
James Scobie QC, for Andrews, said late disclosed material about the key witness had revealed that the prosecution was "flawed right from the very beginning" and "bound to fail".
Addressing the judge, he said: "The very fact the Crown at the last moment do not even begin to explain to your ladyship - not least for the victim's family and those who survived this horrendous attack - is quite and utterly disgraceful.
"This prosecution should never have taken place.
"The very fact the Crown do not come clean and accept responsibility for this flawed prosecution brings our system down, quite frankly."
The court heard that Andrews had been on remand in category A conditions for six months while Reid had been in custody since December last year.
All the defendants appeared before the Old Bailey via video link from Belmarsh prison to hear their cases had been dropped.