Sunday, June 23, 2024

Two men jailed for total of at least 64 years for murder of Chafford Hundred man Robert Powell

THE family of a man killed in a drive-by shooting outside a party have thanked our officers after two men were jailed for a total of at least 64 years for his murder.

Robert Powell, 50, was gunned down after leaving a party in Roydon, Harlow, in the early hours of 13 June 2020. 

The principal organiser of the hit, Nana Oppong, 44, and co-defendant Israar Shah, 39, have been convicted of murder.

Today (Friday 31 May), they were sentenced to life imprisonment at Woolwich Crown Court.
Mr Powell’s sister said: “I would like to thank the team from Essex Police involved in bringing these two murderers to court to face justice. 

“I know there was a lot of hard work involved in bringing them to trial.
“It has been a long and painful experience for us all since Robert was killed in 2020, but I am glad two of the people responsible were not able to hide forever.”

Oppong, a high-level drug dealer and organised criminal, slipped out of the country and went on the run after organising and carrying out the execution of Mr Powell. 
On the morning of the murder, Mr Powell left the party on foot alongside his two sons.
Oppong, and co-defendant Shah, were watching from nearby vehicles. 
At around 4.45am, a Ford Kuga carrying Oppong pulled up alongside Mr Powell. 
A gunman exited the vehicle and shot Mr Powell eight times, before swiftly returning to the car and fleeing the scene.

A shot passed through Mr Powell and hit two nearby women, causing them injury.
Shah, who acted a spotter in a nearby Toyota Prius, was also caught on CCTV quickly fleeing the scene.
A third vehicle, a Vauxhall Zafira, was spotted travelling to the scene in convoy with the Prius and was used as a support vehicle.

Both vehicles were there to assist the gunman in the Kuga in carrying out the hit.
All three vehicles were used solely for the purpose of carrying out the plot to execute Mr Powell. 
An investigation was promptly launched and led by detectives within our Serious Crime Directorate, focusing on key CCTV, telephone and vehicle tracking evidence.

In the moments following the shooting, the Kuga was taken to an industrial estate in Epping followed alongside the Zafira.
The Kuga was dumped and the occupants left the industrial estate in the Zafira.

Shah was caught on CCTV returning to his home address in Kelvedon Hatch in the Prius later that morning.
Our investigation – together with the National Crime Agency’s successful cracking of EncroChat, an encrypted messaging service largely used by organised criminals – established Oppong had likely been out to get Mr Powell. 

It is believed days before the shooting, on 5 June, the suspects had planned an aborted attack on the victim.
Other encrypted messages included a discussion about handguns and a specific type of 9mm ammunition – the same type used to kill Mr Powell. 
The EncroChat conversations further implicated Oppong in a conspiracy to supply cocaine and transfer criminal profits.

Both Oppong and Shah fled the country in the days following the killing and were eventually apprehended thanks to extensive work by Essex Police with the assistance of partners including the National Crime Agency.
Oppong was located in Morocco in September 2022 after trying to enter the country using false documents. He was extradited back to the UK in June 2023. 
Shah was located in Spain in December 2022 and extradited back to the UK in February 2023.
Both stood trial charged with murder and possession of a firearm.
Oppong was further charged with causing grievous bodily harm and possessing a prohibited weapon.
Both defendants were convicted on all charges on Tuesday 28 May.
Oppong admitted a charge of conspiring to supply Class A drugs shortly before the trial. 
Oppong will serve a minimum term of 38 years until he can be considered for parole, Shah a minimum of 26 years.

We know others were likely involved in the murder and our investigation is ongoing.
With the support of the NCA and law enforcement agencies abroad, a 40-year-old man, from London, was recently arrested in Spain in connection with our enquiries, brought back to the UK yesterday (Thursday 30 May) and charged with murder. 
Detective Superintendent Steve Jennings, who led the investigation, said: “Today marks a significant milestone in what has been a four-year effort to bring two dangerous killers to justice. 
“Robert Powell was callously executed in a carefully organised drive-by shooting in Roydon, Harlow, in 2020. 
“From the outset of our investigation, which was conducted by a dedicated team of officers and staff, we have sought justice and answers for Robert’s family. 
“They have remained patient, restrained and dignified throughout what has been a traumatic process for them. I would first pay tribute to them and I hope they take a small degree of solace from the fact two of the people responsible for murdering Robert have been brought to justice.
“They have been left to pick up the pieces after their lives were shattered, cruelly, by the actions of Nana Oppong and Israar Shah that day.
“Oppong wanted Robert dead and formed a plan, using a team of associates, to murder him.
“He has refused at every turn to accept any responsibility for his actions in arranging this killing. 
“Shah lied about his presence at the scene, telling the jury he was there to deal drugs. Thanks to the evidence we gathered, the jury saw through this lie. 
“These sentences do not mark the end of our investigation. 
“We know, and the evidence is clear, others were likely involved in Robert’s murder, and we will continue to work to see them identified and arrested.” 
Paying tribute to Mr Powell, his sister said: 
“Robert was my younger brother, father to three children and grandfather to two grandchildren, they were just babies when he was murdered.
“I look back to our childhood, where we would go over to Springfield Park, Hackney Marshes, playing pranks on each other, just being kids. 
“I thought we would have grown old with each other, look after our mother and support each other.
“Now he is gone and the main responsibility for our mother has fallen to me, her health has deteriorated so much, she has mobility issues and is generally quiet frail. 
“I see her listening to old voice messages she has from him on her phone, this makes me feels so sad, she shouldn’t have to go through this. 
“Robert’s death has fractured my family and it now feels broken.
“Family events are no longer what they used to be. Robert was a big part of this such as a birthday or anniversary, he valued that family time. 
“We would all get together; he would then turn up and was the life and soul. 
“He would come into the room, and everyone would take notice, it would light up. 
“The talk of Uncle Robert coming to an event such as a birthday, would get the kids all excited as they loved being around him.
“Robert was such a family orientated person; he loved being around us all. This is now gone and get togethers are not the same. 
“To the two people who have been convicted of Robert’s death: We still have so many unanswered questions.
“The main one being: Why did you do this? What did you achieve? 
“These questions cause us more pain and make this whole situation worse.
“Firstly, you flee the country, this meant we were constantly wondering when you would be found.
“Seeing a call from the police would have us hoping that you had been located and were on your way home. 
“By going on the run, it has delayed this process and made me, my family and the friends of Robert live part of this nightmare longer than we should have.  
“You both have caused so much pain, and ripples of that are still being felt today.
“I have attended court every day to hear what you have had to say, and how you say you were not involved in Robert’s death. 
“I have heard how Robert died more than a sister should during this trial, our family should never have to go through that. 
“Events from that night being talked about in court brought back memories of Robert dying in the hospital, the smell, the sounds, everything. It is something I just want to forget. 
“It takes me two hours to get to court every day. My journey involves me having to pass the hospital where Robert died, then pass the cemetery where he rests with my other brother and Grandad. 
“This journey to and from court, along with what is said during it just feels me with sadness. 
“I haven’t seen any remorse from either of you throughout this time, I only hope as you spend the best years of your life in prison, you come to realise the implications you have had on mine, my families and even your own life.”

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