‘Scary clown’ rapper jailed after brandishing shotgun at police

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A drill rapper who donned a scary clown mask and brandished a shotgun from a stolen BMW during a police chase has been jailed for 23 years.

Akinsoji was caught on camera waving a gun out of the window as they drove through narrow residential streets, over speed bumps, at up to 60mph.

Officers, including one who described the white mask as reminiscent of the Hollywood film Heat, opened fire, believing their lives were in danger, jurors were told.

Clown mask gang court case
(left to right) Lekan Akinsoji, 21, Troy Ifill, 22, Nathaniel Lewis, 23, and Darnell Joseph-Newill, 21, (Metropolitan Police/PA)

The chase came to an end when the BMW was driven the wrong way down a one-way street in Leytonstone.

Akinsoji emerged from the car wearing a “frightening” clown mask and all four gang members were wearing gloves and had their faces either partially or fully covered.

A fifth man, who was behind the wheel, fled on foot and was not arrested, the court heard.

Clown mask gang court case
A shotgun is brandished from a stolen BMW during a police chase (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Officers described the terrifying incident, with one saying: “I was in fear. What was happening was overwhelming.”

Akinsoji was linked to the Woodgrange or “E7” gang from Forest Gate, east London, the court heard.

The court heard before the ride out, Akinsoji had posted a drill rap video on YouTube that glorified gang culture and rivalry with the E11 gang.

Clown mask gang court case
The gang were armed with an array of lethal weapons (Metropolitan Police/PA)

They were said to be associated with east London gangs who had formed an alliance under the name “Northside Newham”.

Prosecutor Anthony Orchard QC had told a jury the defendants had armed themselves and set out in the stolen car to cause really serious injury or death to a rival gang.

Following a trial, the defendants from east London were found guilty of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm with intent.

They were each jailed by Judge Mark Dennis QC to 23 years plus three years on extended licence.

Clown mask gang court case
The axe found by police after a police chase in east London (Metropolitan Police/PA)

He said: “Drill music glorified gang violence and challenged rivals gangs. The offending conduct was a reflection of such lyrics.”

The judge told the defendants: “You are all comparatively young men. However, over a long period you had been attracted by and engaged in an urban culture that embraced violence and blights communities.”

He imposed the lengthy jail sentences in spite of a plea by one defence barrister for a “measure of mercy”.

Mitigating for Ifill, Sam Stein QC said: “We are in these courts locking up too many young black men in circumstances all too similar.”

He said jail seemed not to be achieving a deterrent effect on young men in the community.

Family members wept in the packed public gallery as the men were sent down.

The defendants had smiled and gestured to their supporters but were heard to shout as they were led away from court.

Detective Chief Inspector Jane Topping, from Trident, said: “I am very pleased with the substantial sentences these men have been ordered to serve today. These are extremely dangerous men with strong gang affiliations, as was recognised by the judge.

“Given the weapons they had with them, including a firearm and zombie knives, I have no doubt that their intention was to seriously injure or kill someone.

“The men made no effort to stop for police and brandished a firearm at officers during the subsequent pursuit. I would like to pay tribute to the officers in the armed response vehicle who responded with bravery and professionalism in arresting these men.”

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