Notorious Birmingham Gang Member Guilty Of Murder

14 December 2018, 14:31 | Updated: 14 December 2018, 14:32


A "notorious" gang member has been found guilty of murder after his true identity was hidden from jurors due to press coverage of his links to two previous killings.

Tafarwa Beckford, the stepbrother of singer Jamelia, was convicted by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court of the 2015 shooting of Derek Junior Myers.

The 36-year-old was allowed to drop his first name and instead use his middle name of Theodore during the trial after a legal application for the use of a pseudonym.

Jurors were not told that Beckford - known by the street names "Dreads" and "Charmer" - was acquitted of murder in both 2000 and 2005 after gang-related killings, including an infamous New Year's Day shooting in Aston, Birmingham.

Mr Myers died after being hit in the chest and jaw when Beckford opened fire outside a pool hall during a mass brawl which left another victim with life-changing injuries.

The court's decision to allow Beckford to replace his first name with his middle name was taken due to online media reports linking him to Birmingham's Burger Bar Boys gang.

Lawyers acting for Beckford argued that there was a "particularly large" number of media articles about him because he was a close relation of Jamelia.

Beckford refused to give evidence from the witness box but denied involvement in the killing or the Burger Bar gang, which was responsible for the 2003 machine gun murders of teenagers Letisha Shakespeare and Charlene Ellis.

Police charged Beckford with the teenagers' murder in November 2003 but he was cleared part-way through a trial in 2005, following a submission of insufficient evidence.

The then 17-year-old was also accused of the March 2000
Birmingham nightclub murder of Christopher Clarke - who was stabbed and beaten with champagne bottles.

Prosecutors instead proceeded with a lesser charge of affray, for which Beckford received a 30-month sentence.

His latest court trial was told that trouble flared outside the Big Bang pool hall in Hockley at about 4am on October 30 2015.

Police believe the disorder involved factions of the Burger Bar gang following a fall-out between members.

During the violence Marvin Duffus - a friend of Beckford - was stabbed and shot five times at close range, leaving him with brain damage.

Less than a minute later Beckford was caught on CCTV as he shot 25-year-old Mr Myers in an apparent revenge attack.

Despite around 150 people being in the club, and many onlookers witnessing the shootings, only a handful of people came forward.

Officers arrested Beckford, of Duchess Road, Ladywood, Birmingham, at an address in Tividale, West Midlands, a fortnight later.

Commenting after the trial, Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Payne said: "Beckford is a dangerous man with a notorious history of involvement in gang violence who we suspect is linked to other shootings.

"He is now a convicted killer...and he's looking at spending upwards of 30 years behind bars."

The senior officer added: "He's clearly somebody, I think, who felt himself to be untouchable.

"He had such a high-standing in the gang environment that he thought nobody would ever be able to convict him of murder - which is why he behaved with such impunity on the night in question.

"He is a man who has been linked to previous firearms discharges and murders and he's somebody who is a really dangerous individual. We are really pleased that he's now off the streets."

Prosecutor Annabel Darlow QC told Beckford's trial that he disappeared "beneath the radar" after Mr Myers was killed.

Alleging the shooting was a response to the attack on Mr Duffus, Ms Darlow told jurors that firearms were passed from hand to hand "according to need, and according to status" during the violence.

Beckford will be sentenced next week.