Published: 5 October, 2012
by ALICE HUTTON
AN eyewitness to a gun killing spoke at the Old Bailey of watching “100 people fighting” outside a nightclub before a man was gunned down 100 metres from his house.
Stephen Thion also told the court how he saw a woman desperately trying to revive Aaron McKoy who had been chased, beaten on the ground and then shot dead in the early hours of January 1.
Mr McKoy was killed when a night out to celebrate his birthday with his twin brother Lee was interrupted by warring gangs from Hackney.
Eyewitness Mr Thion said he was woken by the sounds of “lots of people fighting and shouting and smashing of glass bottles” outside his flat which was directly above the Clerkenwell House Wine Bar, where the celebration had been taking place in the early hours of New Year’s Day this year.
Six men have been charged with murder, with Dean Smith, 26, of Lordship Road, Stoke Newington, accused of pulling the trigger.
On trial alongside him are Ceon Hewitt, 22, and Jack Nichols, 21, both of High Street, Wickford, Osman Mohammed, 23, of Homerton Road, Hackney, Smith's cousin Perrie Dennis, 22, of Thornbury Close, Newington Green and Daniel Oyetoro, 27, of Charlbury Crescent, Romford.
Mr Thion, a Frenchman, who now lives in Mexico and flew to London to give his evidence yesterday (Thursday) spoke about see several men “jogging” away after hearing two gun shots before a woman arrived, “got on her knees and started trying resuscitation”.
He told the court he stood at his bedroom window watching “like 100 people and they were shouting and fighting in small groups” before he saw four men chasing after another man.
Bernard Richmond, QC, defence for Smith, questioned whether Mr Thion could notice five people run off if 100 people were fighting – and reminded him that in his initial police statement he said he saw six people.
But Mr Thion insisted: “I remember four people and the guy they were chasing.
“Then I heard two gun shots being fired. It came from where those five people were. That is when the four people came back in front of the bar where everybody else was. They were jogging. I could not see the body. [Then] a girl got on her knees and started trying resuscitation.”
Earlier this week the victim's brother told of his “gut feeling” that his twin had died after repeatedly ringing his phone without an answer.
Lee McKoy, 21, told the court on Monday how he circled the streets in a car searching for his brother after hearing a gun shot only to discover Aaron was lying dead on the street with tape and police “everywhere”.
The court heard how it was only by chance that the McKoy brothers, along with two girls, ended up at the Clerkenwell House Wine Bar, in Hatton Wall on January 1 – their birthday – after several parties in Dalston and Archway fell through.
Aftab Jafferjee QC, prosecuting, showed the jury CCTV footage of the group arriving around 2am and meeting Ricky Walkington, a friend of Aaron’s, before entering the club.
Two hours later Mr Walkington was stabbed in the leg as gang rival tensions allegedly erupted- causing the Wine Bar to be emptied, with crowds spilling out into the streets.
Dressed in a black shirt and trousers, Lee McKoy, of Hackney, spoke so quietly he had to be repeatedly asked by Judge Wendy Joseph to raise his voice. He said: “It felt like everyone was gasping for air and everyone went to leave.
“As I got out [Aaron] was across the road with the two girls. Later I heard a bang. I automatically thought it was a gun shot. I knew that there was danger but I didn’t know what kind. So I ran off towards Leather Lane.”
Having got into a friend's car he continued: “I tried to ring my brother and the girls he was with but their phones just rang out. I got to about Angel when I got a phone call saying someone had been shot. I turned round and went back. When I turned up it was taped up and police were everywhere. I wasn't too sure, but because I could not get through to my brother I had a gut feeling that it was [Aaron].”
Mr Jafferjee asked him: “Did you [then] discover he was dead?”
Lee McKoy replied: “Yeah.”
PC Gary Collins, an expert in Hackney gangs, told the court that members of known groups had allegedly been present at the Clerkenwell Wine Bar on the night of the shooting. The Stoke Newington-based officer said that the Lordship Boys or LORD (“Live or Die”) were “friends” with the London Field Boys, who are “one of the biggest gangs in Hackney”.
But he added that both are “rivals” with the Holly Street Boys, named after a road in Dalston where both Lee and Aaron McKoy had lived between 2004 and 2006.
Lee McKoy denied there had been problems between the gangs in the club and claimed that the Holly Street Boys were not a gang and were just friends who “played football together”.
In a statement taken by police in January that was read out to the court he said he had no clue how the night would end: “I didn’t feel any tension in the club and it seemed like everyone was having a fun New Year.”
The trial continues.