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Ex-pro Grant gets 25 years

Footballer Gavin Grant was jailed for life for shooting a former friend and told he would have to serve at least 25 years.

The 26-year-old former Millwall striker thought he had got away with murder after Leon Labastide, 21, was gunned down outside his parents' home in 2004.

Grant had been cleared in August 2007 of the murder of Jahmall Moore.

But justice caught up with him when he was charged with Mr Labastide's murder after new witnesses came forward.

Gareth Downie, 25, and Damian Williams, 32, were also jailed for life and given minimum terms of 25 years -- Downie for murdering Mr Labastide and Williams for conspiracy to murder.

As Grant was being sentenced at the Old Bailey, a woman shouted from the public gallery: "It's all fixed" and "You are coming out".

Uproar broke out in the public gallery as the men were led to the cells. Williams lifted a fist defiantly and told his supporters: "Fight".

The Recorder of London, Judge Peter Beaumont, said Mr Labastide's murder had been in revenge for a series of "tit-for-tat" shootings.

He said: "He was executed by shooting."

Mr Labastide's mother, Diane Havill, said in a statement: "Leon was a keen footballer who shared his passion for the game with all who knew him. He loved life.

"His senseless killing by so-called friends who grew up with him has left it hard for me to understand the futility of snatching Leon's future while, in the same breath, destroying their own."

She said she had moved her family from the Stonebridge Park area because she could not face seeing the relatives of his killers.

Grant, from Kenton, north London, Williams, of Southwark, south London, and Downie, of Markby Road, Birmingham, looked angry as they were given their sentences.

A charge that Grant had committed perjury at his trial over the death of Mr Moore, 22, was allowed to lie on file.

Roberto Parchment, 24, originally convicted of Mr Moore's murder, was found guilty again following a retrial in December brought about by supergrass Darren Mathurin's involvement.

Grant has also played for Gillingham and Wycombe Wanderers and was with Bradford City last season.

Nigel Rumfitt QC, defending Grant, said: "Whatever he did in the past, he had turned his life around by the time it was resurrected."

Stephen Batten QC, prosecuting, said that many of the people involved in the case had been linked to shootings and drug-dealing on the Stonebridge Park Estate in Harlesden, northwest London.

He told the jury: "Attitudes and standards are different. It is more the law of the jungle than the law of civilised England.

"You will hear about and see people whose behaviour will probably disgust you and make you wonder if there is any hope for the human race."


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