Four men have today (Friday, December 1) been convicted for the parts they played in a murder plot to kill a man by firing a sawn off shotgun through a letterbox in South Oxhey.
All were found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to murder at St Albans Crown Court.
A fifth man was cleared of all charges by the jury.
At 22:35 GMT on December 1, 2016, the victim was staying at a friend’s flat in Ainsdale Road.
Shaun Smith heard two knocks at the front door and as he approached heard shouting “I’m coming”.
He was then shot in the right thigh by a sawn off shotgun that was poked through the letterbox.
But the intended target, Mr Oke, described in court as a drug supplier with an unsavoury reputation, was not in his Watford home.
The court heard how had it not been for the reinforced letterbox, and that he was positioned slightly to the side of it, he managed to avoid being ‘injured extremely seriously and, possibly, fatally’.
Two men, Kerr and Holness had travelled to the flat that night after an agreement had been made to kill the target.
One of the men entered the block of flats and carried out the shooting.
At the time, McLaughlin was in Croxley Green and Usher was in Stockwell, south London but detailed analysis of telephone calls shows that they were involved in the agreement to murder.
The next day, on December 2, Trident officers from the Metropolitan Police carried out a warrant at an address in South Norwood, Croydon.
They found a shotgun and seven cartridges in a Ford Fiesta parked nearby.
Cannabis with a street value between £1,200 and £1,800 was also found in the car and at the home, plus thousands of pounds in cash stashed inside the property.
Holness was out, but was arrested when officers spotted him returning.
Following analysis of mobile phone data, Kerr was arrested on June 8, McLaughlin was arrested on June 11 and Usher was arrested on August 10 by Hertfordshire officers.
The shooting was investigated by detectives from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Trident and Area Crime Command.
Detective Inspector Justine Jenkins, from the Major Crime Unit, said: “This was an in-depth and complex investigation and it’s testament to the dedication and hard work of investigating officers that four defendants have been found guilty today.
“All four men were aware of the plan to murder on the night of December 1 2016 and they all played a part.
“The unintended victim spent three and a half weeks in hospital following the shooting and had to be readmitted in January 2017 when the wound became infected. Today, he still suffers with constant pain in his leg.”
Detective Constable Martin Reader, of the Met’s Trident and Area Crime Command, said: “These four defendants conspired together to organise the shooting and attempted murder of a man through the cowardly use of a shotgun pushed through a letterbox.
“Had it not been for the fact the victim was standing slightly to the side of the front door, this would have resulted in a fatality”.
Detective Chief Inspector Adam Lowe, the Senior Investigating Officer from the Met’s Trident Area Crime Command, said “A thorough enquiry conducted jointly by Trident officers and colleagues from Hertfordshire Police has resulted in convictions of these very dangerous men who are now likely to receive substantial prison sentences."
The four men are due to be sentenced at St Albans Crown Court on Thursday, December 7.