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Umar Tufail detective says murder was not gang related


THE detective who led the investigation into the murder of Umar Tufail believes it was an "isolated" killing and not the result of gang rivalry.

Detective Chief Inspector Lee Watling and his team's painstaking work led to the conviction of best friends Sanchez Thomas and Kyrone Daley for shooting Umar, 25, outside his house in South Norwood on July 15 last year.

Thomas and Daley, both 19, were jailed for a total of 47 years last week after being found guilty of murder at the Old Bailey.

Throughout the trial the jury were told of Thomas' involvement in south London gang Squeeze Section, and that the "deliberate execution" was a revenge attack provoked by his feud with Umar's younger brother Amir, a member of Croydon's Block Cartel gang.

Another of the borough's "crews", Don't Say Nothing (DSN), was also mentioned.

DCI Watling told the Advertiser that the drive-by shooting was the result of a disagreement between two people who were childhood friends, and did not have the hallmarks of a gang slaying.

He said: "Was it part of a larger gang problem or an isolated incident? Generally if you have a gang rivalry you get a sequence of events after a murder, such as revenge attacks or reprisals.

"In this case there doesn't appear to have been any follow-up. The sad thing is, as Thomas admitted in court, he and Amir had been friends at school.

"It's easy to think that these people were part of gangs, but whatever has happened appears to have been between them and a small group of friends."

This bad blood began when Amir, known by the street name Renz, threatened Thomas, nicknamed Limitz, with a knife in Regina Road, South Norwood, in October 2011, before stabbing him in the arm near the sports shop where he worked in Tooting in March 2012.

Thomas did not report the incident to the police or seek medical attention.

Instead, he resolved to get even and, on the afternoon of July 15, drove to Amir's house with Daley in the passenger seat and confronted Umar, who was sitting in a car outside his home.

First he accused him of "being Renz" and, even when he had established it was his brother, shot him in the head anyway.

With only one witness seeing the grey car drive away – Amir's friend Stephen Crawford – CCTV footage became the key to solving the murder.

DCI Watling said: "What we didn't have were witnesses, other than Crawford, at the scene, so tracking the grey vehicle he saw, using CCTV, was always where we would get our break.

"If I was to tell you that we looked through more than 100 hours of CCTV, that wouldn't be an exaggeration.

"We looked for any and every source possible; whether that's council-owned cameras, Transport for London or private.

"Cameras on public transport, like the buses which enabled us to track the movement of Thomas and Daley's car, can prove very useful, though viewing the recordings for relevant footage which can be just a second or so long takes meticulous work.

"It's up to us to put together all the pieces of the jigsaw."

As a result of their efforts, police were able to produce a convincing picture of Thomas and Daley's journey from their homes in Unity Close to the scene of the murder and then back to West Norwood, before they took a minicab to a friend's house in Fulham.

The footage disproved Thomas' claim that another person in the car, a member of DSN, was the shooter.

Judge Kramer praised the police for their "detailed" investigation. "It was a team effort," said DCI Watling.

Umar Tufail detective says murder was not gang related

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