Joseph Williams-Torres

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Metropolitan Police

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Joseph Williams-Torres was shot on the evening of 14 March 2018

Three gang members have been jailed for murdering a man who was shot in east London in a case of mistaken identity.

Joseph Williams-Torres was sitting with a friend in a van when he was attacked in Walthamstow on 14 March 2018.

The Old Bailey heard the 20-year-old had been killed “by mistake” as part of a turf war between rival youths.

Hamza Ul Haq, 21, of Manor Park, Loic Nengese, 19, of Walthamstow, and a 16-year-old boy were handed life sentences at the Old Bailey earlier.

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Met Police

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Hamza Ul-Haq (l), Loic Nengese (r) and a 16-year-old boy all denied murder

Ul-Haq was jailed for a minimum term of 28 years, and seven years for attempted aggravated burglary, with the sentences to run concurrently.

Nengese was told he must serve at least 21 years in jail. The 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was detained for a minimum term of 18 years.

Mr Williams-Torres’s killers had mistaken him for someone else who wore the same beanie hat as him, jurors were told.

The jury was told Mr Williams-Torres was targeted by three hooded youths who shot him in the chest and legs while he sat in a van with his friend.

As the defendants appeared to be sentenced, Mr Williams-Torres’s father Anthony Williams told of the heartbreak at losing a “kind and caring” young man.

‘Targeted hit’

The attack had been part of a series of retaliatory acts of violence between rival gangs, and the three defendants were associated with a group known as the Mali Boys, the court heard.

Mr Williams-Torres’s killers had been out to avenge the murder of one of their own, 17-year-old Elijah Dornelly, in May 2017.

Prosecutor Allison Hunter QC said the Mali Boys had been involved in a bloody turf war with the Higham Hill or Priory Court gang as they tried to “assert their supremacy and control” of the area.

Before the shooting, Ul Haq had tried to break into the home of one of Elijah’s killers, while Nengese was part of a group looking for a second killer that fired shots into an amusement arcade.

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Met Police

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The murder weapon was found dumped along with a knife and a face mask

The killers of Mr Williams-Torres were identified on CCTV fleeing the scene and the 16-year-old dropped his phone, enabling police to trace him.

Ul Haq and Nengese claimed they were not the figures captured on CCTV, while the 16-year-old admitted being at the scene but failed to say who he was there with. He also said he thought the attack was going to be a robbery.

Devi Kharran, from the CPS, said: “This was a targeted hit by three ruthless gang members who sought out the wrong victim.

“Joseph was just a couple of weeks short of his 21st birthday and had great plans for his life.

“His family have been left devastated at the loss of their beloved son and brother, but I hope these sentences go some way in providing them with a measure of comfort.”

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