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Sunday, 12 September 2010

Darren Mathurin - a new life and identity in return for becoming Britain's first black supergrass.

23:41 |

Darren Mathurin - a new life and identity in return for becoming Britain's first black supergrass.

After his conviction in a murder, Darren Mathurin told the police he was prepared to give information on gangland murders and details of his own lifetime of robbery, drug-dealing and gang-related violence

Jahmall Moore and his friend Sean Cephanis had been celebrating at a family party near Willesden Green in north London. At about 11.30pm on that January evening in 2005, Cephanis left the address, driven off in a taxi. Grainy CCTV footage recovered later by police showed four hooded men walking in the darkness towards the house. The men see the taxi pass. They then move off camera, continuing towards the house.

They had come in search of Cephanis, but once there spotted 24-year-old Moore and turned on him instead. He was with his girlfriend getting a case of beer from his car. Three guns blazed and 16 shots were fired, peppering the silver Renault Mégane.

The dramatic CCTV footage then shows the four men running away, at least one of them still carrying a gun glinting in the streetlights.

Although hit by five bullets, Moore managed to dive away from the car and roll down a bank, followed by his uninjured girlfriend. Lying at the bottom of the bank with his life ebbing away, Moore called 999 on his mobile phone: 'I need an ambulance - quick,' he groaned 'I've been shot... I'm in a back garden... Quick, please I'm dying... Please... help.'

He is then heard naming one of the shooters.

'It was Rufus, you know... Rufus shot me.'

A male voice is heard saying that Moore's breathing is becoming difficult, and then his girlfriend breaks down, crying and screaming, 'Please help him... You can't leave me Jahmall!'

On the face of it, this was just another brutal tit-for-tat killing between feuding gangs. But for police officers from Operation Trident, who deal exclusively with gun crime in London's black communities, it was a turning point. It was the moment they found their first black supergrass.

Darren Mathurin, 24, had driven the killers to the scene of Moore's murder. After reading a description of the van he had used in a local newspaper, Mathurin drove it to east London to burn it and destroy fingerprint and DNA evidence. He doused the vehicle with petrol and lit it, but the explosion blew off his woolly hat and badly burned his legs. He went to hospital by cab with his legs poking out of a window to cool them and dull the pain.

Mathurin (centre, with face obscured to hide his identity) with Damian Williams (far left, with tie) and Gavin Grant (second from right, in check shirt), who were later jailed for murder. (The three other men pictured were not involved in crimes reported here)

Police found Mathurin's DNA on the hat. They had already identified 'Rufus' - the nickname of Roberto Parchment. On the night of the murder both men had left their mobile phones switched on, allowing police to place them at the scene. After a two-year investigation, Parchment and a third man, Romain Whyte, were found guilty of killing Jahmall Moore. Mathurin was convicted of conspiracy to murder. Two other men, Sean Bennett and professional footballer Gavin Grant, who had played for Millwall and would later sign for Bradford City, were cleared.

After his conviction Mathurin told the police he was prepared to give information on gangland murders and details of his own lifetime of robbery, drug-dealing and gang-related violence.

It was what the police had longed for, a chance to get inside a closed world. It was even hoped that he might set an example for others to follow - to cooperate with and give information to the police. But the plan was to backfire spectacularly, costing taxpayers an estimated £500,000.

Mathurin did not decide to help the authorities for altruistic reasons. The simple fact was that he'd finally become a victim of what he called his 'dog-eat-dog' world. To get his sentence reduced and avoid leaving prison a middle-aged man, he was prepared to betray his former friends and associates.

After overcoming numerous legal obstacles, I broke the story in The Mail on Sunday. I saw Mathurin sentenced and have since sat through two murder trials where he gave evidence for the prosecution.

The vast majority of previous supergrasses had not been implicated in murder cases. Deals were normally hammered out after a criminal had been arrested but before they were put on trial. As well as becoming the first Trident supergrass, Mathurin is also believed to be the first person to get such a deal after being found guilty. Approval for this unusual move was given by the then director of public prosecutions, Ken MacDonald, and was a sign of the Government's determination to make inroads into tackling the escalating problem of black-on-black shootings.

But the deal has since turned sour, much to the embarrassment of police and prosecutors.

'He was a disaster in front of juries,' admits one Trident officer.

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