Birmingham Gang Member Jailed For Life
19 December 2018, 14:15 | Updated: 19 December 2018, 14:17
A notorious gang member has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 32 years for shooting dead a father-of-two during an "explosion of violence" outside a nightclub.
Tafarwa Beckford was found guilty of murder last week after standing trial under a false identity to avoid jurors learning of his links to previous gang-related killings in 2000 and 2003.
The 36-year-old, of Duchess Road, Ladywood, Birmingham, was unanimously convicted of the 2015 killing of Derek Junior Myers, who was gunned down in the Hockley area of the city.
Jailing Beckford for life at the city's Crown Court on Wednesday, Judge Patrick Thomas QC said the only sensible conclusion was that the killing had been a gang murder after a confrontation ended in a "shoot-out".
Jurors were not told that Beckford was acquitted of murder in both 2000 and 2005 after gang-related deaths, including the machine gun killings of two teenagers at a New Year's Day party in Aston, Birmingham.
Mr Myers died after being hit in the chest and jaw when Beckford opened fire at close range outside a pool hall, during a mass brawl which left another victim with life-changing injuries.
Describing the killing as "callous revenge" after the shooting of Beckford's friend, the judge said: "It is obvious that this should properly be described as a gang shooting - two armed groups confronting each other, shots fired from both sides, death and extremely serious injuries, and a blanket of silence to conceal the truth from the authorities."
Condemning the killing as a terrible event, the judge told Beckford: "You and half a dozen others went to the club looking for trouble.
"You and at least one other wore face masks, or scarves pulled up over your lower face. Why you perceived the need for a confrontation I do not know and will not guess.
"You and your associates swaggered into the club, keeping your coats on and hoods up.
"I have no doubt that you believed Derek Myers, whom you knew to have a gun, was responsible for the shooting of your close friend. In fact he was not.
"That your friend was, as I am sure you believed, killed in the first stage of that confrontation does not afford you any excuse for what you went on to do.
"Any sentence the court passes must demonstrate that the people of this country, the people of this city, will not tolerate armed gang warfare on their streets."
Beckford has 20 previous convictions for largely minor offences and has only once previously been jailed - for violent disorder - in 2001.
His latest court trial was told that trouble flared outside the Big Bang pool hall at about 4am on October 30 2015.
Police believe the disorder involved factions of Birmingham's Burger Bar gang following a fall-out between members.
During the violence Marvin Duffus was stabbed and shot five times at close range, leaving him with brain damage.
Almost exactly 60 seconds later, Beckford was caught on CCTV as he shot 25-year-old Mr Myers.
Despite around 150 people being in the club, and many onlookers witnessing the shootings, only a handful of people came forward.
Defence barrister Ali Bajwa QC, offering mitigation during the sentencing hearing, said the killing was not premeditated and had been "provoked" by the shooting of Mr Duffus.
Commenting after the sentencing, Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Payne, head of CID for West Midlands Police, said: "Tafarwa Beckford is an iconic criminal. I think he saw himself as above the law.
"I think this is one of the most significant convictions in Birmingham over the last 20 years. He has been linked to a number of murders and shootings over very many years."