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15-year-old in Old Bailey dock accused of killing ‘low level dealer’

Yasir Beshira died after being shot in Kilburn

17 August, 2017 — By William McLennan

The scene in Palmerston Road last December

A 15-YEAR-OLD gunman who had been lying in wait beside a Kilburn restaurant shot and killed a low-level drug dealer who had pledged to break away from an organised network and “go it alone”, a jury heard yesterday (Wednesday).

The teenager, who cannot be named because of his age, is accused of murdering 21-year-old Yasir Beshira in a side street off Kilburn High Road during rush hour on December 8 last year. Sammi Tesfazgi, 21, from West Hampstead, and 22-year-old Rilind Tahiri, from Islington, who allegedly drove him to and from the scene of the killing in a stolen Range Rover, are also accused of murder and appeared in the dock alongside him at the Old Bailey at the opening of the trial.

Brian O’Neill QC, prosecuting, told the jury: “A small-time drug dealer named Yasir Beshira was shot and killed in a side street just off the Kilburn High Road. The gunman, says the prosecution, was the [teenage boy], who had been driven to the location by Mr Tesfazgi and Mr Tahiri for that very purpose.”

He told the court there was evidence that Mr Tesfazgi had a “long-standing association” with the victim and while Mr Beshira was living in a West Hampstead hostel in 2013 had “requested permission for Mr Tesfazgi to visit him as a guest”. Mr O’Neill told the jury that Mr Beshira, who was known to his friends as “Loopy”, had spent the day of his death moving between a William Hill betting shop and Palmerston Road, a dead-end side street next to a branch of Nando’s, which was a “known, regular spot at which he would conduct drug deals”.

Yasir Beshira

He said that Mr Beshira, who was of Eritrean origin and lived with his family close to the scene of the murder, had been “acting as a runner” for a drugs phone line that was “operated by someone who went by the name CJ”.

But in the days before his death, the court heard, Mr Beshira had “been putting the word about that he was going it alone and that orders for drugs could now be placed with him directly”. Mr O’Neill told the jury: “It may well be the case that it was his decision to go it alone that led to him being murdered.”

Pointing towards pictures of overflowing bins beside the restaurant, he said: “Prior to the shooting the gunman was hiding behind these bins waiting for his victim to appear.” When Mr Beshira appeared in the side street at around 5.20pm, the gunman stepped forward and shot him once in the chest, with the bullet passing through his stomach and exiting his lower back, before fleeing on foot through the Webheath Estate.

Mr Beshira made it a few metres before collapsing outside Ellie’s Café in Kilburn High Road. “Efforts to save his life at the scene, first by two doctors who happened to be passing by, and then by members of the London Ambulance Service and Helicopter Emergency Medical Services personnel, who attempted to perform life-saving surgery in the street where he lay, were unsuccessful,” Mr O’Neill said.

The murder weapon has never been found, but the jury was told that a bullet casing discovered at the scene proved it was likely to have been a “self-loading pistol” that was of a “large calibre and/or a high velocity bullet injury”.

The teenager, who is now 16, Mr Tesfazgi and Mr Tahiri all deny charges of murder. The trial continues.

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