On Friday 22 April 2016, Mr Popo and Ms Martey were gunned down on a street in North West London in broad daylight.
Mr Popo was shot six times, twice in his chest. One of the bullets passed through his body, hitting Ms Martey, the woman behind him. It was luck, rather than design, which allowed them to live. Whilst the attack bore all the hallmarks of a gang reprisal, the gunmen had got the wrong target. Instead of shooting a rival gang member, they shot two innocent civilians going about their daily lives.
The defendant was Tokcy Ajibola a well-known rap artist and YouTube star, familiar to many as ‘Trapstar Toxic’. He was charged with two counts of attempted murder, and one count of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. Whilst he was alleged to have carried out the shooting along with two or three others, he was the only one charged.
The Crown pitched the shooting against a background of tit-for-tat violence between two rival gangs, the ‘Church Road Soldiers’ and ‘Thugs of Stonebridge’. The defendant had strong ties to the former, producing several rap videos with the ‘Ice City Boyz’, their supposed musical offshoot. The day before the shooting, a fellow ‘Church Road Soldiers’ associate was stabbed, allegedly by the ‘Thugs of Stonebridge’. The Crown said this was the defendant’s motive for the shooting, mistaking Mr Popo for a rival gang member.
The circumstantial evidence appeared to be compelling. Cell-site evidence and number plate recognition data placed the defendant in the immediate area at the time of the shooting. The defendant said he wasn’t there, and knew nothing about it. Whilst he admitted to being involved in the purchase of the getaway car several weeks before, he insisted this was sold on by a former business partner, ‘Jamie’.
The getaway car itself was forensically examined. Swabs were taken from a solitary sock found in the front foot well. The Crown’s forensic expert confirmed the defendant’s DNA was present on both the inside and outside of the sock. The defence argued secondary transfer, the defendant having sat in that car close to purchase. Gunshot residue was also found on the sock, consistent with one type discharged by the firearms used.
Another plank in the Crown’s case was a call the defendant allegedly made the day prior to the incident to a Lithuanian gun supplier, who specialised in pistols with a ballistic similarity to those used in the shooting. The defendant said in evidence he had lent his phone to a gang associate and had nothing to do with the call. The defence invited the jury to look further, to assess his evidence against his background, street culture, and music.
Following a three-week trial at the Old Bailey, the defendant was acquitted on 4 October 2017. He hopes to release his next record soon.