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Water Lane drive-by shooting: Two found guilty of murder

Crime / Tue 28th May 2024 at 03:49pm

TWO organised criminals who worked together to gun down a victim outside a party in Harlow have been convicted of murder.

Nana Oppong, 43, and Israar Shah, 39, organised and carried out the killing of 50-year-old Robert Powell in Roydon, Harlow, in the early hours of 13 June 2020.

Mr Powell, who had left a party at an address in Water Lane at around 4.45am, was shot eight times and later died in hospital.

A Ford Kuga, later found to be on cloned number plates, stopped near Mr Powell in the seconds before the shooting, before an individual stepped out of the vehicle and gunned him down.

A shot went through Mr Powell and hit two nearby women, causing them injury.

The Ford Kuga made off from the scene.

A police spokesperson said: “Our investigation later traced this vehicle to an industrial estate in Epping, where it was dumped before being collected hours later.

Through our analysis of CCTV and mobile phones, we were able to link Oppong and Shah to the killing.

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 a specific type of 9mm ammunition – the same type used to kill Mr Powell.

In the hours following the shooting, Oppong’s EncroChat handle deleted a significant amount of data, suggesting he was trying to hide incriminating evidence tying him to the murder.

The EncroChat conversations further implicated Oppong in a conspiracy to supply cocaine and transfer criminal profits.

Shah was linked to a Toyota Prius recovered from his home address in the days following the shooting.

This Prius was spotted travelling in convoy with a Vauxhall Zaifira to the location of the murder and away from the scene in the moments after the shooting.

The Prius is seen to drive past the party repeatedly in the hour before the murder.

“Our investigation established Shah, in the Prius, acted a spotter on the lookout for Mr Powell, while the Zaifara was a support vehicle.

Both vehicles were there to assist the gunman in the Kuga in carrying out the hit.

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 March 2023.

Both stood trial at Woolwich Crown Court 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.

They are set to be sentenced at the same court on Friday 31 May.

“We know others were likely involved in the murder and we will continue our work to identify and prosecute them”.

Detective Superintendent Stephen Jennings, of our Serious Crime Directorate, led the investigation and said:

“This murder was unusual in its level of sophistication, organisation and brutality.

“It was not a spontaneous act of violence, but rather a planned and carefully co-ordinated execution.

“While we may never know why the defendants carried out this murder, it is clear Oppong held a grievance against Robert Powell and was committed to seeing him killed.
“Robert’s murder has left his family utterly devastated and they have displayed dignity throughout a years-long investigation and now, a difficult trial.

“We have dedicated countless hours to this investigation, trawling through thousands of hours of CCTV and analysing hundreds of phones.
“Oppong is a committed and high-level criminal, and thought he could use his knowledge of law enforcement tactics and encrypted messaging to evade justice.

“He enlisted the help of Israar Shah to act as a spotter, striking the moment Robert was seen to emerge from a party he had been attending.
“We quickly focused our investigation on the movements of three key vehicles, seen travelling in convoy and clearly used solely to effectively carry out the murder.

“Our investigation then extended to working with partners, including the National Crime Agency, to locate and arrest our suspects.
“It quickly became clear they had fled the country, and thanks to partnership working with law enforcement agencies in the UK and abroad, the net soon closed in on Oppong and Shah.”

Samantha Woolley, a Specialist Prosecutor from the Crown Prosecution Service in the East of England, said:

“Robert Powell was ambushed and shot eight times as he left a birthday party in a meticulously planned murder.
“Bystanders were left terrified and Mr Powell’s sons had to witness their father being treated at the scene before going to hospital where he died.

“Oppong was the mastermind and Israar Shah acted as a lookout. Both men were at the scene and then quickly fled the country.
“I worked with our extradition lawyers to get them back to the UK so they could be put on trial.
“I hope their murder convictions provide Mr Powell’s family with a sense of justice.”

David Cater, NCA Regional Manager for North and West Africa said:

“Nana Oppong and Israar Shah fled the UK after carrying out a callous drive-by shooting that sadly cost Robert Powell his life.
“Both were traced, apprehended and returned to the UK to face the consequences of their crimes.

“In the case of Oppong, an NCA-led extensive campaign to track him down ended in his capture by Moroccan authorities as he tried to enter the country from Spain in the back of a lorry. From there he was swiftly brought back to the UK by officers from our Joint International Crime Centre.
“This is one of many examples that show there is nowhere for offenders to hide. Working with our partners in the UK and overseas, we are committed to capturing wanted fugitives and ensuring they have their day in court.
“We are pleased to have assisted Essex Police’s investigation that has resulted in the convictions of these two murderers.”

In 2022, on the second anniversary of Robert’s passing, his mother paid tribute to him, stating:

“My son was an awesome person with a smile that still warms my heart.
“He was a father of three children and a grandfather of two.
“He was a well-loved son, brother, nephew, uncle, cousin and friend to many, and we all love and miss him.

“He would call me every week or every other day, we would Facetime each other and talk about the family, and the plans we have for the future.

“But others choose to take his dream and future plans for his family from him.”

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4 Comments for Water Lane drive-by shooting: Two found guilty of murder:

David Forman
2024-05-29 09:44:38

Nice to see the boys in blue can solve a complex. Now the public would like to see the many thousands of unsolved crimes dealt with as efficiently as this murder.

Gazza
2024-05-29 11:07:27

More cultural enriches…

John
2024-05-29 12:36:21

David this would have had endless resources attached to it as expected. When you get low level crime they will not have all of these people and techniques pouring over it. I am sure even you can understand that.

Allan Wallace
2024-06-03 18:28:56

Gazza, how about you stop being racist and actually stop being so sensitive about your white victim complex lol.

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