Gang leader jailed for breaching injunction

Mick Ferris

The leader of a drug dealing gang has been sentenced to 19 weeks in prison after he breached an injunction by making a so called ‘drill’ music video with lyrics about using guns and carrying out violence against rivals.

Roland Douherty, 19, who heads up the so-called C17 gang, can be heard in the music video, called ‘Bro Code’, rapping about “pulling the trigger twice on a gun”, dealing drugs and carrying weapons.

Chelmsford County Court heard how the video was posted online on June 30 this year, nine months after Douherty was made the subject of a tough gang injunction.

Under the terms of the court order, as well as banning Douherty from large parts of Thurrock, the order prevents him from: featuring in any audio or video online that is threatening, abusive, insulting, incites, violence, promotes criminal activity, shows weapons or makes reference to gang affiliations and the C17; and congregating in a public place in a group of two or more where the group is behaving in a way likely to make a personal feel intimidated or afraid for their safety.

Despite the injunction being imposed in September 2018, the court heard the video was posted online in June of this year.

Douherty disputed that the video made reference to his drug dealing or use of guns, but a drill translation provided by an Essex Police expert showed he makes constant reference to using knives and guns and warning his enemies “not to cause problems it they can’t handle the come-back”.

The court found Douherty, formally of Cardinal Road, Chafford Hundred, guilty on Thursday October 3 of breaching his injunction by featuring in the ‘Bro Code’ drill video.

Following the hearing Sgt Scott Fitzmaurice of Essex Police’s West Operation Raptor team said: “The C17 gang thought they could get away with selling drugs, preying on the young and vulnerable and committing violent crime in Thurrock – we proved them wrong and secured an injunction.

“Now the leader of the gang, Roland Douherty, clearly believes he can continue to be involved in gang-related violence and use drill music videos to continue and escalate the violent rivalry between C17 and other gangs – we proved him wrong.

“We are not prepared to allow Douherty, the C17 gang or any gang for that matter to promote hateful message that advocate and incite violence, the use of weapons and drug dealing.

“We will continue to target members of this gang who breach the injunction, arresting them and putting them before the court.”

Chief Supt Tracey Harman, Essex Police’s lead for Operation Raptor said: “I hope the sentencing of Douherty leaves other members of this gang in no doubt that we will continue to enforce the injunction that we worked so hard, with the support of our partners, to secure.

“However this case also highlights the need for social media providers to audit their content so that violent drill videos which incite gang rivalries and violence, do not find their way on to these platforms.

“Violent drill videos continue to be posted online where they are consumed by young people who may think the gang lifestyle is glamorous. However, our translation of just one part of the music video in this case shows the content of some drill videos is often violent. We hope our translation of this music video serves to show young people, their parents and the wider community of the harmful and hateful nature of some of this content. ”

Leader of Thurrock Council, Cllr Rob Gledhill, said: “This prosecution shows the power of the injunction we and Essex Police have put in place to curtail the activities of this criminal gang.

“By jailing the leader of this criminal gang for 19 weeks we send a tough message that we mean business and this sort of activity will not be tolerated.

“This is the latest member of this gang jailed and another excellent example of how our collaboration with Essex Police in stamping down on criminal gangs is having real results. Members of this gang are involved in horrific crimes including selling drugs, committing violent assaults and preying on young and vulnerable girls.

“The injunction has already had a positive effect and I can assure our residents that we will continue working with Essex Police to protect our communities and help them feel safer.

“We still need residents to report criminal activities. This can be done anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, or through 101 or 999 if it is an emergency.”

A total of 11 members of the C17 gang have now been put before the court and handed down the tough restrictions.

Under the terms of the order gang members are banned from: entering Grays town centre, park, Lakeside and Grays Beach Riverside Park.

They are also banned from making drill videos, wearing hoodies or face coverings, associating with C17 members and, for some, being in the company of girls aged under 16. The gang members must also give Essex Police all details of their social media profiles.

The gang first came to the attention of the Operation Raptor team in May 2017 as they became heavily involved in drug dealing and violence.

The gang had been plaguing the town centre, town park and beach areas of Grays as well as Lakeside, dealing drugs in those areas and committing crime and disorder.

Evidence gathered by police, included detail of how the gang have preyed on young children in the community, enticing them into the gang and then exploiting them by getting them to run drugs, carry cash from deals or knives.

The younger members are also used to act as “spotters” or “distracters” to look out for police whilst others are carrying out deals.

The C17 are also known to target vulnerable drug users, using violence and intimidation to take over their homes for use as a drug dealing base (a practice known as ‘cuckooing’).

Violence around the gang is mainly borne out of rivalry with other gangs and drug lines. The violence and rivalry has played out in numerous so-called ‘drill’ music videos filmed by members of C17 which feature weapons and provocative language and gestures.

Drill is a type of rap music that originated in South Chicago in America. It features dark, violent lyrics and often used to perpetuate and even escalate gang disputes.

If you spot the C17 gang in areas of Thurrock which they are banned from or breaching any of the specified terms of the order, call Essex Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Essex Police set up Operation Raptor teams in the North, South and West of the county to tackle drug and gang-related violence.

Mick Ferris

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