A TEENAGER who blasted another young man with a shotgun at close range has been told he is facing ‘a very lengthy sentence indeed’ after being convicted of attempted murder.
Pray Maphosa had denied the charge and an alternative offence of wounding his victim Bailey Atkinson with intent to cause him grievous bodily harm.
Maphosa of Hamilton Road, Worcester, claimed someone else was responsible for the shooting outside his parents’ home in Pinley Fields, Stoke Aldermoor, Coventry, in September last year.
But a jury at Warwick Crown Court found him guilty of the more serious offence by a majority of 10-2, and also convicted him of possessing the shotgun with intent to endanger life.
Following the jury’s verdicts, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano observed: “Clearly I have guidelines, and it is going to be a very lengthy sentence indeed.
“Count three has a starting point of 18 years on its own. The sentence is inevitable, but given that he’s only 18 and has no previous convictions, I do need a report.”
Adjourning until May 7 for the report to be prepared, she said it should also assess Maphosa’s ‘dangerousness.’
And remanding him in custody until then, Judge de Bertodano told Maphosa: “You have been convicted by this jury of very serious offences. You, I know, are under no illusions that you are looking at a very lengthy sentence indeed.”
During the trial prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith told the jury the background had its roots in the gang culture in Coventry with which both young men were involved.
He said the two main gangs in Coventry were C2, based in the CV2 area of the city, and RB7, each of which have about 40 members aged around 15 to 18.
Both gangs have taken part in violent crime towards each-other, which has involved the use of firearms – although both Maphosa and Mr Atkinson were associates of the C2 gang.
“But this ongoing dispute which has involved the use of firearms is why Pray Maphosa was able to take possession of a lethal weapon at such short notice.”
Both young men had previously been victims of stabbings, but neither had co-operated with the police over those incidents.
“So the prosecution say that against that background of gang affiliation, Pray Maphosa believed that no witness, and that includes Bailey Atkinson, would speak to the police.”
He was right, and because of his ‘strong affiliation to gang culture’ Mr Atkinson would not assist the investigation and did not be give evidence in the trial.
“But what Pray Maphosa did not take into account was that there was a CCTV camera opposite his home, and it captured the shooting.
“Two police officers who know the defendant very well have independently identified him as being the person who shot Bailey Atkinson. You are going to have to assess the correctness of that identification.”
At the time Mr Atkinson was on a wall outside his home in Pinley Fields, where Maphosa’s parents also lived.
At 10pm on the night of the shooting Maphosa got a taxi to an address in Bryanston Close where he collected a black bag before being driven back to Pinley Fields.
On returning, he and Mr Atkinson exchanged gestures which were consistent with an argument before Maphosa went inside with the bag – in which Mr Grieves-Smith said he had the shotgun.
Maphosa came back out, and as the argument continued he walked down the front garden with the shotgun in his hand.
“He held it up and he aimed the gun at Bailey Atkinson. Bailey Atkinson was just a few feet away across the gap from his house and Pray Maphosa, and it is then that the shot was fired.
“When you watch the CCTV you can see the flash as the gun is fired. You can see the defendant recoiling from the force of the shot, and he goes back into his house, and Bailey Atkinson runs inside his property shedding blood as he goes.”
An ambulance and the police were called, and when officers saw Mr Atkinson sitting on the wall he said he had been shot but would provide no further details.
He was taken to hospital where he needed operations for severe shotgun injuries to his arm.
Within 20 minutes Maphosa had left the area, and the shotgun has never been recovered, but on September 11 he handed himself in and gave ‘no comment’ replies when he was interviewed.
But the jury was told his defence was that he had gone to Bryanston Close to collect some clothes, and that when he got back he had a shower, during which he ‘heard a commotion’ outside.
He said he did not know what was going on, but left the house from the rear to avoid any problems – and he denied being the person who had shot Mr Atkinson.
Maphosa did not give evidence during the trial, but his barrister Ian Jobling pointed out that an expert who had examined the CCTV footage had cast doubt on the identification of him as the gunman.