Kazeem Kolawole, a 19 year-old Nigerian was today sentenced to life in prison for a gang shooting in South London last year that left a five year-old girl, Thusha Kamaleswaran paralysed. Thusha was playing in her aunt’s food and wine store in Stockwell, when she was accidentally shot in the chest during the shootout.
Kolawole was an accomplice to ring leader Nathaniel Grant, 21 who actually carried out the shooting and ‘sidekick’ Anthony McCalla, 20. The trio from the Organised Criminals gang, cycled to the store intending to kill rival gangster Roshaun Bryan of rival gang ‘All Bout Money’. However, the hit was botched and they ended up hitting young Thusha and seriously wounded another innocent bystander, Roshan Selvakumar in the attack.
While Roshan Selvakumar, 35, was shot in the face and still has bullet fragments lodged in his skull, Thusha would spend the rest of her life on a wheelchair and would need care for the rest of her life. The two were innocent victims of the gang feud.
The shooting, on March 29, 2011 was captured on the store’s CCTV camera and showed the emotional moments when the shy five-year-old with pigtails, danced happily in the aisles of her aunt’s small store. Moments later, she was knocked down by a bullet to the chest fired through the store’s open door by the three men as they pursued members of a rival gang.
Now six, Thusha is paralyzed from her chest downwards and remains in a wheelchair as her parents’ world have been turned upside down. Her family has been left battling debt and her mother is said to have suffered insomnia and depression.
The three were found guilty in an Old Bailey Court last month of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to the girl and Selvakumar, plus the attempted murder of Bryan. Judge Martin Stephens QC said none of them had shown a “shred of remorse” since the trial began.
It was also revealed at the court that the three of them should have been in jail long before. Grant, known as ‘Killa Buzz’, was cleared of an almost identical gangland murder and released from prison just weeks earlier; McCalla was on bail over a vicious bus brawl and probation staff considered recalling him to prison hours before Thusha was shot while Kolawole had recently been spared prison for beating a schoolgirl and was wearing an electronic tag while on bail for carrying a knife.
Earlier this week Thusha’s family moved into a new home that has been refurbished to meet her needs. Police officers were so moved by the family’s plight that they have already raised £125,000 to go towards her care.
A statement given to the court by Thusha’s mother, Sharmilla Kamaleswaran, spells out the impact the tragedy has had on the family.”I cannot begin to explain the shock that I felt at the time of the shooting. We were at the shop as a family enjoying seeing relatives. The children were happy, running up and down the shop, playing and dancing. Seconds later I had to see Thusha lying on the floor, crying, telling me she couldn’t feel her legs.”
The ordeal has continued with her daughter’s surgeries and her daily struggle with pain, Sharmilla Kamaleswaran said. “To see her lying in a hospital bed just took all of my heart away. My other children were crying. They couldn’t understand why this had happened. I cannot think of a worse time in my life,” she said.
A year later, Thusha’s younger sister prays every day for her sister to “get up and walk as before,” their mother said. Meanwhile, Thusha’s dreams of becoming a dancer and musician have evaporated.
Grant would spend a minimum of 17 years before he is eligible for parole while McCalla and Kolawole would spend a minimum of 14 years before being eligible for parole.
They showed no sign of emotion as their sentences were passed.
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