Stockwell shooting: Gang member was 'high risk'

A teenager who took part in a shooting which left a five-year-girl paralysed was known to youth offending teams as a "high risk" to others, it has emerged.

Thusha Kamaleswaran was shot in the chest and Roshan Selvakumar, 35, was shot in the face at a Brixton shop last March.

Anthony McCalla, 20, one of three gang members involved, was a "top priority" for the local youth offending team in Lambeth.

He will be sentenced next week.

McCalla, Nathaniel Grant, 21, and Kazeem Kolawole, 19, were found guilty of grievous bodily harm with intent and of attempting to murder Roshaun Bryan last month.

Local gang mediator Junior Shabazz claims McCalla fell between the intervention gaps once he turned 18 and "the money dried up".

He said: "A 'high-risk individual' means the risk is they hurt people and they are at risk of hurting themselves by their own behaviour and actions.

'Performing poorly'

"So, when you're talking about this small group and your standards of care and provision for this group is generally poor, or non existent, then yes, people will get hurt."

However, Lambeth Council disputed this claim and said it had regular contact with McCalla, who received support right up until the day he was arrested.

A recent inspection of the Lambeth Youth Offending Team found it has been performing poorly.

The Criminal Justice Joint Inspection report found that many substantial or drastic improvements were urgently needed. The team is currently without a leader.

A number of young men who knew McCalla well say they were encouraged to move away from associating with the gangs McCalla was caught up with by an intervention project called STREET.

Michael Gonedro and Abdul Majeed, both former gang members who trained to become STREET youth workers, said the decline in gang mediation in the absence of funding is leading to an escalation of violence.

Image caption Anthony McCalla was a "top priority" for youth offending teams

Mr Majeed said: "It might be apparent that the amount of deaths are lower than before but the amount of violence is still apparent. Silly things are still happening because youths are not being catered for."

BBC London has seen correspondence between the organisers of STREET and local and national government officials which shows STREET was asked by police and probation services to help McCalla.

The project was losing staff and funding so in turn made it clear it was not in a position to help.

In March last year, McCalla, Grant and Kolawole were trying to shoot Roshaun Bryan, a suspected rival gang member, at Stockwell Food and Wine shop but instead shot Thusha in the chest and Roshan Selvakumar in the face as they got caught in the crossfire.

Thusha will never walk again.

Image caption Thusha Kamaleswaran was left paralysed after being shot while playing in the shop

Christian Guy, of the Centre for Social Justice, said: "Until you admit you've got a gang problem in your area.. you'll never come to terms with it or deal with the problem."

Lambeth Council said it did now recognise the scale of the gang problem its community faces.

It has recently appointed councillor Florence Nosegbe to help better target resources to deal with the issues posed by gangs.

In a written statement to BBC London about Anthony McCalla, a council spokesman said: "Even though he was over 18 and the council did not have a duty of care under this Act [The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000], the council continued to support him through its Young and Safe intervention programme and he had regular contact with his key worker, right up to the day he was arrested.

"It is unfair and incorrect, therefore, to suggest he had slipped though system on turning 18, when in fact he continued to receive regular support.

"Following the report of the Youth Justice Board, we have made it very clear that we will not accept failure in a service that is so critical to (the) wellbeing of our young people, and we have acted decisively to make sure the service is turned around quickly.

"The person who managed the service has gone and the rest of the service is being fully assessed."

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