Walthamstow gang members shot innocent man in case of mistaken identity

TWO men and a boy have been found guilty of murdering a 20-year-old man in Walthamstow last year.

The trio were convicted over the death of 20-year-old Joseph Williams-Torres, who was shot dead on the evening of Wednesday, March 14, 2018.

The court heard Mr Williams-Torres was mistaken for a gang member and shot as he sat in a van with a friend in Essex Close, Walthamstow, listening to music.

At around 9.30pm, three men in hoods appeared in front of the vehicle and began pulling at the passenger door.

As Mr Williams-Torres fought to pull the door closed again, one of the men drew a gun and shot him in the chest and legs.

The group then ran off towards Pretoria Avenue.

Mr Williams-Torres managed to exit the van and was given first aid by local residents until the emergency services arrived, but he died around an hour after the shooting.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Williams-Torres’s father told the court that his son had been busy planning his 21st birthday trip to Sweden, to stay with the family of a friend.

He said: “Joseph was really happy about this trip. Nobody could have known that just a short time later, the evil that was lurking around the corner, meaning Joseph never reached his 21st birthday and never got to go to Sweden.

Since March 14, 2018, my family’s lives have changed forever. Never before have I been sat somewhere and just broken down crying, having no control of how this pain has affected me.

“I find myself sitting in silence and staring aimlessly into the distance, thinking to myself, why? What did we or Joseph do to deserve this dreadful thing to happen to us?

“No matter how much time passes, our lives will never, ever be the same. A part of our lives ended when they took our Joseph.”

Three people were convicted of his murder today at the Old Bailey.

Police said all three were members of the same Walthamstow gang.

They were Hamza Ul-Haq, 21, of Burden Way in Wanstead, Loic Nengese, 19, of Arkley Road in Walthamstow, and a 16-year-old boy from Hackney, who has been granted anonymity by the court system.

Police said the men were identified from CCTV images.

The gun used to kill Mr Williams-Torres was proved to have been used in another shooting incident a year earlier.

In the early hours of a Tuesday morning in May 2017, Nengese and five other men – including his two co-defendants in the murder of Williams-Torres – smashed their way into an amusement arcade in Hoe Street, Leyton, where two shots were fired into the premises.

They were looking for Ezra Abeka-Soares, who was later convicted of the murder of Nengese’s friend Elijah Dornelly.

DS Ian Valentine said: “Joseph’s murder was the result of ongoing retaliation and tit-for-tat incidents between rival gangs. Joseph wasn’t a gang member but sadly that night he was mistaken for someone else.

“As well as Joseph’s murder, today we have seen other gang members convicted of further incidents involving violence and weapons.

“The evidence heard by the court is a very sad tale of a group of young men caught up in gang violence and drugs activity, armed with guns and knives, attacking others in a frankly shocking display of behaviour.

“One incident in Leyton saw shots indiscriminately fired into a busy amusement arcade – it’s only luck no one was injured.

“Many lives in this case, and others, are being destroyed by gang violence. We need to turn the tide.

“If you know someone involving in gang activity, drug dealing, carrying weapons please come forward. You don’t need to speak to police, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers or fearless.org. Please provide information to help us save lives and prevent others being ruined.”

Mr Williams-Torres’s killers will be sentenced on January 10, 2020.

Joseph Williams-Torres

Charles Thomson

Chief ReporterEmail: basildon@yellowad.co.uk