Ali Bajwa QC represents man acquitted of gang-related shooting

At close to 7pm on 7th July 2019, in a park in Tokyngton, north-west London, Kwasi Mensah-Ababio died from a single shot fired into his head from close range. That event was a gang-related revenge attack for the shooting two days earlier of a prominent gang member, Craig Small. However, Mr Mensah-Ababio had nothing to do with gangs or the murder of Mr Small - he was a wholly innocent man with the misfortune to be mistaken for a prominent member of the rival gang.

Following an eight-week trial at the Central Criminal Court, on 23 March 2020, three men - Rene Montaque (the gunman), Karlos Gracia and Alhassan Jalloh (his accomplices) were convicted of Mr Mensah-Ababio’s murder and the fourth defendant, Taalib Rowe was acquitted of murder but convicted of manslaughter. On 13th November 2020, the other three men were sentenced to life imprisonment with minimum terms of between 25 and 30 year and Mr Rowe to a determinate sentence of 17 years’ imprisonment.

Ali Bajwa QC appealed against Mr Rowe’s conviction on the ground that the legal directions given to the jury did not provide a rational or safe basis for a manslaughter verdict. The Court of Appeal agreed and, on 28th October 2021, quashed his conviction. However, the court ordered a re-trial on manslaughter on a different and potentially safe basis.

On 4th July 2022, Mr Rowe alone stood trial in Woolwich Crown Court charged with the newly framed charge of manslaughter. Ali Bajwa QC acted for Mr Rowe. The case against Mr Rowe depended very largely on his movements and actions as captured on a large number of CCTV camera, but the Crown also relied on other strands of a circumstantial case, including his close association with both Mr Small and Mr Montaque, his disposal of his clothes and his mobile phone shortly after the shooting and the fact that he made no comment in interview and declined to give evidence in the trial. The case raised a number of difficult questions about the fine line between joint participation in an offence and guilt by association.

On 27th July 2022, after just two hours of deliberation, the jury acquitted Mr Rowe of manslaughter. Following three years in custody, Mr Rowe was released from HMP Belmarsh and returned to his family home.

Ali Bajwa QC was instructed by Sinead Zaman at Powell Spencer and Partners.

See here for coverage by BBC.


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