Birmingham & Black Country

Tafarwa Beckford: Birmingham gang member jailed for revenge shooting

Tafarwa Beckford Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Tafarwa Beckford was tried three times for the murder of Derek Myers

A notorious member of Birmingham's Burger Bar Boys gang has been jailed for murdering a man in a revenge shooting.

Tafarwa Beckford, 36, shot Derek Myers, 25, outside the city's Big Bang snooker club in October 2015.

Beckford - previously accused of three other murders - killed Mr Myers in retaliation for his friend being shot and stabbed outside the club.

Police said it was "one of the most significant" convictions in 20 years.

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Media captionDerek Myers, 25, was shot dead outside Birmingham's Big Bang snooker club in October 2015

Such is his reputation, Beckford - also known as Dreads and Charmer - stood trial under his middle name, Theodore.

He was previously accused of the murders of Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare, on New Year's Day in 2003, and Christopher Clarke in 2000 but was cleared due to insufficient evidence.

Beckford, of Duchess Road, Ladywood, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 32 years.

Analysis by Peter Wilson, special affairs correspondent, BBC Midlands

At the age of 36, Tafarwa Beckford was a veteran in Birmingham's gang world. He was also someone who saw himself as untouchable.

He had previous convictions for violent disorder, dangerous driving and cannabis offences, and other gang members feared him.

As a teenager, he was one of the "young guns" in the Burger Bar Gang.

A friend of Marcus Ellis, both men were connected with the 2000 killing of Christopher Clarke. Despite hundreds of witnesses, no-one was prepared to testify against either man.

In 2004, both men were in the dock over the Aston shootings, where two innocent teenagers, Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare, were killed in a drive-by shooting.

Ellis was one of four men convicted but Beckford was cleared because of insufficient evidence.

Marcia Shakespeare, mother of Letisha, said she had always believed he was involved in events surrounding her daughter's shooting.

"The day Beckford walked free, I said to myself the day will come, he will be accounted for," she said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Friends Cheryl Shaw, 17, twins Charlene Ellis and Sophie Ellis, 18, and Letisha Shakespeare, 17 on New Year's Eve, 2002

After four men were convicted for the 2003 killings, she said she was told her case had not been resolved as "individuals" were still at large.

"It's taken an additional 15 years to close another chapter," she added.

Det Ch Supt Mark Payne, from West Midlands Police, said the conviction was "one of the most significant in Birmingham over the last 20 years".

It is the third time Beckford has been tried for the murder of Mr Myers, who was shot at close range in the chest and jaw, as previous juries failed to return verdicts in November 2016 and April 2018.

This trial heard there had been a "brewing argument" between factions of the Burger Bar Boys outside the snooker club in Hockley at about 04:30 GMT on 30 October 2015.

Judge Patrick Thomas QC told Birmingham Crown Court Beckford had "swaggered" into the club "looking for trouble".

His friend Marcus Duffus was stabbed and shot five times during the argument outside and, while he lay seriously injured on the pavement, Beckford followed the group and shot Mr Myers.

Image caption Trouble flared outside the Big Bang pool hall in Hockley during the early hours of 30 October 2015

Judge Thomas said Beckford knew Mr Myers was armed and mistakenly believed he had shot Mr Duffus.

The murder was "obviously... a gang shooting", the judge said, and Beckford "characteristically fled the scene".

"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," the judge added.

He said there had been "a blanket of silence to conceal the truth from the authorities".

Despite more than 150 people being in the club, only a "handful" came forward with information.

Because of a lack of evidence, Beckford - who is the step-brother of singer Jamelia - was acquitted of the murders of Ms Ellis and Ms Shakespeare.

Mr Clarke, meanwhile, was stabbed and beaten with Champagne bottles in a Birmingham nightclub in March 2000. Beckford was convicted of affray.

Police described him as an "iconic criminal" who "saw himself as above the law".

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