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Young man shot dead ‘by mistake’ in rival turf war

Joseph Williams-Torres, 20, was targeted by three hooded youths, a court heard.

A mural of Joseph Williams-Torres, 20, on Forest Road, Walthamstow, near to where he was shot and killed as he sat in a car. Hamza Ul-Haq, 20, and two others are accused at the Old Bailey of his murder, in Essex Close, Walthamstow, on 14 March 2018.
A mural of Joseph Williams-Torres, 20, on Forest Road, Walthamstow, near to where he was shot and killed as he sat in a car. Hamza Ul-Haq, 20, and two others are accused at the Old Bailey of his murder, in Essex Close, Walthamstow, on 14 March 2018.

By Emily Pennink, PA Old Bailey Correspondent

A young man was shot dead by mistake in a “ruthless and planned attack” as part of a bloody turf war by rival youths, a court has heard.

Joseph Williams-Torres, 20, was targeted by three hooded youths as he sat in a van with a friend in Walthamstow, east London on the evening of March 14 last year.

The attackers had spied Mr Williams-Torres, then pulled out a gun and fired before running off in less than two minutes, the Old Bailey was told.

The victim was hit in the chest and legs and died on his way to hospital less than an hour later.

Prosecutor Allison Hunter QC said: “This was clearly a targeted attack on the man sitting in the van on Essex Close that night.

“The baffling question is why.”

She said the answer lay in that fact the shooting was part of a series of related and “retaliatory” acts of violence that had its roots in a dispute between rival groups of youths.

Hamza Ul Haq, 21, of Manor Park, east London, Loic Nengese, 19, of Walthamstow and a 16-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons are accused of the murder.

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Joseph Williams-Torres, 20, who was fatally shot in Walthamstow (Met Police/PA)

They were captured on CCTV cameras and the youth allegedly dropped his mobile phone at the scene, the court was told.

Ms Hunter said the defendants were friends who were associated with a group known as the Mali Boys.

She said the Mali Boys had become increasingly confrontational and angry since the murder of one of their own, Elijah Dornelly in May 2017.

They were engaged in a “turf war” with others, in particular a group known as Priory Court or Higham Hill, jurors heard.

In November 2017, Ul Haq had been squirted with acid and another Mali boy was stabbed by a group of masked hooded males in Walthamstow, the court heard.

Ul Haq allegedly presumed it was the Priory Court/Higham Hill rivals as they set out to avenge the attack on March 14, jurors were told.

Ms Hunter said: “Joseph Williams-Torres however, was murdered by mistake.

“It was undoubtedly a ruthless and planned attack on a rival group member, but he was not the intended target.

“They had it would appear, mistakenly identified him for another.”

She said the intended target was the same height and build and even wore the same beanie hat as Mr Williams-Torres, who lived locally.

The defendants have denied murder and the trial continues.

PA

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