The black equal rights campaigner was shot in the head in Peckham in May 2021.
22 February 2022
The case against four men accused over the shooting of black equal rights campaigner Sasha Johnson has collapsed.
Ms Johnson, a mother-of-two, was shot in the head at close range during a silent disco in the garden of a house on Consort Road in Peckham, south London.
She suffered “catastrophic” and permanent injuries and remains in hospital following the attack just before 3am on Sunday May 23 last year.
Ms Johnson, 28, is a founding member of the Taking The Initiative Party and had been a prominent figure in the Black Lives Matter movement last summer.
Four young men had denied conspiracy to murder person or persons unknown and having a gun and ammunition with intent to endanger life.
Their trial had been fixed for March 7 but at an Old Bailey hearing on Tuesday prosecutor Mark Heywood QC offered no evidence and not guilty verdicts were formally recorded.
The defendants – Prince Dixon, 25, of Gravesend, Kent, Troy Reid, 20 of Southwark, Cameron Deriggs, 19, of Lewisham, and Devonte Brown, 19, of Southwark – reacted with smiles as they appeared by video link from Belmarsh top-security prison.
During the hearing before Mr Justice Hilliard, Mr Heywood outlined the circumstantial case against the defendants, saying the decision to drop the case had followed a careful review involving the highest level at the Crown Prosecution Service.
He said he was unable to give full reasons for the decision but had provided details to the court as to why the CPS had no option.
Outlining the case, he said it concerned a “deliberate shooting” at partygoers at the rear of the address in Peckham.
Four males in balaclavas had approached the house and discharged a weapon at guests, with one round striking Ms Johnson in the head at “very close range”.
He said the Crown had alleged the four males were the defendants, who were known to each other.
CCTV analysis, phone cell site and call data showed they planned and conducted surveillance before carrying out the attack with “murderous intent” on one or more partygoers, the court heard.
Mr Heywood said the wider background was a “falling out” and “hostility” between Deriggs and Brown and the two youngest occupants of the house, who were aged 18.
There had been previous incidents and a panic alarm had been installed at the family home just days before, the court heard.
Access to the party was restricted by security at a side gate and one of the attackers was carrying a handgun, probably a Glock loaded with 9mm bullets, the court heard.
Mr Heywood said: “During the confrontation a single shot was discharged from the weapon after a re-load.
“That discharged round struck Sasha Johnson, then aged 27, at very close range.
“Ms Johnson was present as a close friend of the family living there. She was then in a relationship with the oldest son.”
She suffered a penetrating wound to the side of the head and remains in hospital with “catastrophic permanent damage” as a result, Mr Heywood said.
He said the case against the defendants for an alleged conspiracy was based on “circumstantial evidence” and there was no direct evidence identifying any of them.
The core evidence came from contact with each other, phone data and their movements, the court heard.
The prosecutor made clear that there was nothing to suggest Ms Johnson was targeted because of her anti-racism campaigning and involving in the BLM movement.
Each of the defendants had denied being part of the alleged conspiracy or present on the night of the shooting.