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POLICE believe they have broken the back of Birmingham's gun gangs after four leading members of the notorious Johnson Crew were jailed for life for the brutal murder of a nightclub bouncer.

Ishfaq Ahmed, 24, died in a hail of bullets when six Johnson Crew gangsters opened fire after they were refused entry to Premonition nightclub in November last year.

Club owner Dennis Killen and two other bouncers also suffered gunshot wounds after at least 13 shots were discharged from two semi-automatic9mm handguns,including a Beretta.

Birmingham Crown Court was the centre of unprecedented security for the six-week trial with plain clothes officers sitting in the public gallery while armed officers stood guard outside the courtroom door.

Sentencing Carl Spencer, Dean Smith, William Carter, Jamal Parchment, Leonard Wilkins and Michael Christie to 30 years in jail, Mr Justice Mitting told them: "You could not stand being rejected so you resorted to lethal force."

After the trial, police revealed that four of the defendants were 'prolific gunmen' and that shootings in the city had gone down by a quarter since their arrest and detainment. The convictions come just months after leading members of the Burger Bar Boys gang - the JohnsonCrew's bitter rivals - were jailed for life for the murder of teenagers Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare at a New Year's Day party in 2003.

A police source said: "We have taken out the backbone of both gangs by putting away their leading members.

"It is only through the help of the local community that we have been able to achieve this. Some of these guys have been terrorising the community for years and thought of themselves as untouchable"We are confident that their convictions will be a massive deterrent for anyone wanting to fill their place."

He added: "The gang-related murder rate has gone down by more than a half since we put all these members of both gangs behind bars Birmingham Crown Court heard how the six-strong gang had arrived in Birmingham after travelling in a three-car convoy from Walsall. They stopped off at a safehouse in the Aston area where they picked up four handguns before driving to the Air nightclub in Digbeth.

After forcibly bursting their way in, the gangsters robbed a reveller of his gold chain at gunpoint before pistol-whipping him.

The gang then drove on to the Arcadian complex where they parked the three cars and tried to get into the Radius nightspot but its doors were locked.

The court heard how the gang then walked to Premonition nightclub on the busy Bristol Road and tried to force their way in through a side fire exit.

When challenged by door staff, they pretended to walk away before suddenly turning back with their face covered andguns cocked. Witnesses told how they heard gang members egging each other on, shouting: "Get the ting (gun) out, showem it's real" and "Smoke him (shoot him)" and "Give it to him."

Forensic checks on the firearms revealed the guns had been linked to 17 other shooting incidents across the UKMICHAEL CHRISTIE, 33, of Gillott Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham. Known as Little Mikey.

One of the original members of the Johnson Crew. No stranger to guns, he survived three shots to the head and body after a dispute outside Thashas nightclub in Handsworth in 1993.

Four years later, Christie was jailed for the attempted murder of London DJ Christopher Nicholas aka President Sas. l CARL SPENCER, 37, of Norton Street, Winson Green, Birmingham. Known as Ringo.

Stood trial for the 1994 murder of nightclub doorman Keith Copeland but was acquitted.

On Christmas Eve 1995, Spencer was targeted by Yardie gunmen who kidnapped him at gunpoint from his Aston home before driving him to Sandwell golf course where they tied his hands together and shot him. A dog walker found his near lifeless body the next day.

Police said Spencer survived the freezing night because he was high on crack cocaine. A man charged with his attempted murder later walked free from the Old Bailey when Spencer failed to give evidence against him.

l WILLIAM CARTER, 29, of Broughton Road, Handsworth, Birmingham. Known as Milly or Criminal.

Recognised as the 'main man' or leader of the Johnson Crew. In 2002, he was convicted of dangerous driving after being involved in a daylight car chase through Birmingham city centre during which gunfire was exchanged between two cars and an innocent 64 year-old shopper run over. l DEAN SMITH, 20, of Short Heath Road, Erdington.

Up and coming Johnson Crew member said to be a founder of its younger off-shoot gang the Baby Johnsons. Has JC tattooed on his chest.

l JAMAL PARCHMENT, 22, of Dovehouse Pool Road, Aston. Close friend of Smiths and owned the blue Toyota MR2 which was used to flee the murder scene. It was later found in a garage with traces of gunshot residue which matched the murder weapons. l LEONARD WILKINS, 36, of Broseley Brook Close, Small Heath, Birmingham.

Close friend of Spencer's who drove the green BMW. It was advertised for sale the day after the murder


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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Dec 4, 2005
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