Five men, involved in clashes between the rival Kempston ‘K’ Block and Mile Road gangs in 2017, have been sent to prison for their part in a kidnap and multiple conspiracies to cause GBH with intent, including a serious stabbing and a shooting.
The incidents all happened within three weeks of one another in June 2017 as the rival gang members looked to establish themselves as leaders of their respective groups.
Former leaders of the Mile Road gang had been locked up thanks to Bedfordshire Police’s Operation Kruse investigation into Bedford gang shootings in July 2016 but this left a power void.
Sentencing the men, Judge Nigel Lithman QC said the gangs “were at war in June 2017” over the trade of Class A and Class B drugs: “The defendants have been involved in the worst blight upon life in this country, involving the toxic combination of gang association, and the use of knives and guns in pursuit of their rivalry in the course of the drugs trade.”
During the first incident, on 3 June, an off-duty police officer saw a man being assaulted near Addison Howard Park in Kempston and police tracked a car leaving the scene.
The vehicle was soon found and forcibly stopped by officers in Chantry Avenue.
Saffa Gbonda, 25, of Walcourt Road, Kempston, was driving the car at the time and arrested at the scene and the assault victim was freed from the vehicle.
Gbonda was convicted of conspiracy to kidnap and GBH with intent at trial in October. Today, he was sentenced to a 12-year prison sentence. He’ll serve nine in custody and three on licence.
On 17 June, two Mile Road gang members sought retribution with a machete attack in Hawkins Road, Bedford.
Maksims Boikovs, 19, of Brackley Road, Bedford, and Terrell Romain, 22, of Lewis Close, Bedford, were captured on CCTV heading towards the area just before 8pm and then leaving shortly afterwards.
Judge Lithman said the teenage victim of this attack “virtually had his arm severed”.
The victim was able to walk a short way with his friends before being treated by paramedics near the junction of London Road and Elstow Road.
The weapon used in the attack was recovered with the victim.
Romain and Boikovs were found guilty of violent disorder, wounding with intent to cause GBH and possession of a bladed article at trial in January.
Romain was sentenced to 18 years in prison, while Boikovs was sentenced to 14 years, both for wounding with intent.
Both also received sentences of four years for violent disorder and 12 months for possession of a bladed article to run concurrently.
Romain also received three separate sentences of four, four, and two years, for drugs supply offences which will also run concurrently.
Two days after the stabbing, on the night of 19 June, the Kempston Block gang carried out a drive-by shooting of a Mile Road gang associate.
The gang shot from a 12 bore shotgun at a home in Miller Road. The shots were so powerful, they went all the way through to a room at the back of the property.
Two men suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries and the property was significantly damaged inside and out.
The car used in the shooting was later abandoned in Miller Road and when searched, contained a lump hammer, knife sheath and shotgun cartridges.
Fingerprint analysis linked Antonio Ziu, 22, of Warwick Avenue, Bedford, and Vincent Kingswell-Shaw, 23, of Foster Road, Kempston, to the vehicle.
Sentencing the pair, Judge Lithman said it was “merely a happenstance” that the intended targets, or anyone else on the residential street, had not been killed but added that Ziu and Kingswell-Shaw were “entirely indifferent” to that fact.
Ziu, who was considered a “leading light” of the Kempston Block gang, received two 19 year sentences for conspiracy to commit GBH with intent, and possession of a shotgun with intent to endanger life. These sentences will be served concurrently.
Kingswell-Shaw was sentenced to 16 years for both offences, which will also be served concurrently.
Detective Inspector Janine Graham, who led the investigation, said: “This violence sprung up from rival gang members looking to fill the vacuum left at the top of these gangs after the previous leaders were arrested and taken off the streets.
“This sort of mindless violence has no place anywhere in our county. Thankfully, incidents of this severity and violence are rare, and these proceedings show the way in which those responsible will be pursued and punished.
“These are major sentences befitting the seriousness of the crimes that have been committed. Anyone involved in drugs gangs, or who could be enticed into that world, should be under no doubt.
“You are putting your safety and even your own life at risk, while we will do everything in our power to investigate these gangs and bring them to justice.
Tackling gangs and serious youth violence in Bedfordshire is one of our top priorities, and with our new Boson team dedicated to tackling gang and gun crime in Bedford, these gangs will find themselves being relentlessly pursued by law enforcement.”
Senior Crown Prosecutor Charles White, from the CPS, added: “These two gangs routinely carried knives and guns on the streets in Bedford, resorting to violence to warn their rivals off.
“Despite a wall of silence from the gang member victims, we were able to present a range of evidence to the jury including witnesses’ statements, phone data, forensic evidence and CCTV footage which clearly placed individual gang members at the different incidents.
“Criminal activity and violence of this nature has no place on our streets, and we will continue to work with the police to catch, prosecute and bring to justice those people who engage in this activity.”
In the same proceedings, Daniel Brownlee, 21, of Pearcey Road, Bedford, received a two year prison sentence, suspended for two years, for being concerned in the supply of cannabis.
Dreyfuss Mussington, 23, of Barford Avenue, Bedford, received a one year sentence suspended for two years for a similar offence.