18/03/2005

Four men convicted of New Year murders

Four men have been found guilty on charges relating to the murder of two teenage girls attending a New Year's party in Birmingham two years ago.

Nathan Martin, 25, from South Road, Smethwick, Marcus Ellis, 24, from Winson Green, Birmingham, Michael Gregory, 22, from Ladywood, Birmingham, and Rodrigo Simms, 20, from Whitehouse Drive, Smethwick, were found guilty of the murder of Ellis' half-sister, Charlene Ellis, 18 and Letisha Shakespeare, 17, on January 2, 2003.

Charlene and Letisha had gone to party at a hairdressing salon in Aston. The two girls were later shot dead outside the salon in a drive-by attack. Charlene's twin sister Sophia, Cheryl Shaw and Leon Harris were also injured in the attack.

Martin, Ellis and Gregory were also convicted of attempting to murder Ms Ellis, Ms Shaw and Mr Harris. Simms was convicted for the attempted murder of Ms Ellis and Ms Shaw, but cleared of the attempted murder of Mr Harris.

All four men had denied the charges brought against them.

Ballistics and mobile phone record evidence linked the car used in the shooting, a Ford Mondeo, to the incident.

The four will be sentenced at Leicester Crown Court on Monday.

A fifth man, Jermaine Carty, 24, who it was alleged was the member of a rival gang attending the party, was cleared on a charge of possessing a firearm on the night of the murders.

The car in which Mr Carty was sitting came under fire from a secong gun, just seconds after the two girls were shot dead.

(KMcA/SP)

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