Sasha Johnson shooting: case against four men collapses


The case against four men charged over the shooting of the Black Lives Matter activist Sasha Johnson has collapsed, after the prosecution announced it would not be offering any evidence against them.

Johnson, a mother of two, was shot in the head at a 30th birthday party in Peckham, south London, on 23 May last year.

The court heard that Johnson remains in hospital with “catastrophic permanent damage”, in a serious but stable condition.

Prince Dixon, 25, Troy Reid, 20, Cameron Deriggs, 19, and Devonte Brown, 19, had denied conspiracy to murder, possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

They were due to stand trial on 7 March but at an Old Bailey hearing on Tuesday the prosecution announced the Crown would not be pursuing the case.

Johnson, 28, is a founding member of the Taking the Initiative party and came to prominence in 2020 as protests for racial justice sprang up across Britain.

She was struck by a single bullet just before 3am at a silent disco in the garden of a house in Peckham.

The defendants, who appeared by video link from Belmarsh high-security prison reacted with smiles and hugged each other as the prosecutor, Mark Heywood QC, announced their case was being dropped after a review.

Heywood said four men in balaclavas, who the prosecution had believed to be the defendants, had approached the house and discharged a weapon at guests, striking Johnson, who was in a relationship with the oldest son of the family who lived there. He stressed there was nothing to suggest she was targeted because of her anti-racism campaigning and involvement in the BLM movement.

Heywood said the wider background had been a “falling out” and “hostility” between Deriggs and Brown and the two youngest occupants of the house, who were aged 18. But he said the case against the defendants for an alleged conspiracy was based on “circumstantial evidence” and there was no direct evidence identifying any of them. The core evidence came from contact with each other, phone data and their movements, the court heard.

Announcing that the test for the case to proceed to trial had not been satisfied, Heywood said: “For very good reasons it is not possible to set out in full in open court the reasons it is so but it should be understood the relevant considerations have been given the most anxious and careful scrutiny.

“That scrutiny has been reviewed at the highest level within the CPS.”

Heywood said that, because of the importance of the decision, the court had been provided with information in private for it to better understand the background, adding “The prosecution regrets this step is necessary at this advanced stage. There, in reality, is no other alternative available.”

Mr Justice Hilliard QC recorded formal not-guilty verdicts. The judge said he believed the director of public prosecutions had knowledge of the case.

Detectives, who believe Johnson was not the intended target, said their investigation would continue. Making a new appeal for information, which they stressed could be provided anonymously, the Met urged people “to do the right thing for Sasha and her family”. They added: “We have updated Sasha’s family regarding this decision and our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.”

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Olivia Wilson
By Olivia Wilson


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