In the Media

Gang members jailed for shooting of five-year-old girl

PUBLISHED April 19, 2012

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Three members of a south London street gang who shot and paralysed a five-year-old girl have been jailed for a total of 45 years.

Nathaniel Grant, Anthony McCalla and Kazeem Kolawole were chasing a man they believed was a member of a rival gang when Thusha Kamaleswaran was shot in the chest as she played in her uncle's south London shop in March last year.

The bullet hit her spine before passing out of her back. In the moments after the shooting she twice went into cardiac arrest as medics battled to save her.

The trio were found guilty last month of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Thusha and shopper Roshan Selvakumar, who was shot in the face, as well as attempted murder of their intended victim Roshaun Bryan.

Grant will serve a minimum of 17 years, and Kolawole and McCalla at least 14 years.

Kolawole, 19, of Kennington, south-east London; McCalla, 20, of Streatham, south London; and Grant, 21, of Camberwell, south-east London, were told their crimes were "of the utmost gravity".

Judge Martin Stephens QC said: "Much of what you did was captured on CCTV and has been shown on television screens across the land. "One can only imagine the effect on the public when they saw what you had done."

The court heard that Thusha had been caught in the crossfire of a "tit-for-tat" feud between the Brixton-based GAS gang ? short for Guns And Shanks ? and rivals ABM ? or All 'Bout Money ? based in neighbouring Stockwell.

The GAS gang is notorious in the south London and is known to be responsible for killing three teenagers in 20 months.

Sentencing, the judge said the trio had gone out with a "determined, premeditated intention to kill" the night Thusha was shot, adding it was an "exceptional case of the utmost gravity".

"Five-year-old Thusha, who was dancing around with her family in the shop, was hit in the body. Only the skill and devotion of the medical teams who became involved saved her life but she remains paralysed below her chest and this condition is permanent.

"This simple but devastating statement of the essential facts of the case illustrate the gravity of these offences, riddled as they are with aggravating factors."

He said the sentences had to reflect "the public's abhorrence" at the shooting of a five-year-old.

"Shooting twice into a small and confined space where it was known there were people present can be denounced as an attack on society itself by men who saw themselves as outside the law and above the law."

In an interview after the verdicts last month, Thusha, now six, said: "I worry that someone will try to hurt me again."

Her mother, Sharmila Kamaleswaran, is said to have suffered insomnia and depression.

Kamaleswaran said in a victim impact statement that seeing her daughter, who dreamed of being a dancer, in a hospital bed "took my heart away".

Police who investigated the case have set up a fund to help raise money to support Thusha's family. Already donations have topped £125,000, and a group of 15 officers and police staff are doing the Three Peaks Challenge in September ? attempting to climb the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales ? to raise further funds.