Mothers - what became of the witnesses?
The mothers of two teenage girls gunned down outside a New Year party today expressed their regret that witnesses to the murders had failed to come forward and give evidence against their daughters' killers.
Four men were today found guilty at Leicester Crown Court of murdering Charlene Ellis, 18, and Letisha Shakespeare, 17, two years ago.
The girls died in a hail of bullets in a drive-by shooting outside the Uniseven hairdressing salon in Aston, Birmingham, in the early hours of January 2 2003.
Beverley Thomas, mother of Charlene, said: "I am glad this awful period in my life can come to a close. Charlene will be sadly missed."
But turning to the matter of witnesses who did not come forward she said: "There are people there that saw and became blind and heard but became deaf."
Marcia Shakespeare, Letisha's mother, said: "Letisha was a wonderful, loving daughter who we dearly miss. Today has been a long time coming."
She added: "A message for those that did not come forward who were there: you have to live with it. Nothing will ever bring back Letisha but at least now we can move on with our lives."
Appeals planned against shootings trial convictions
Defence solicitors in the New Year shootings trial are planning to appeal against the convictions of the men found guilty of murdering Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare.
Solicitors working for some of the defendants dubbed the case one of the most "unfair trials" of modern times and said the appeal could go to the European courts.
Previous murder: charges dropped
Two of the original five men accused of shooting dead Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare and the brother of one of their co-defendants had once been charged with another gangland-style murder, it can be revealed today.
But Tafarwa Beckford, Marcus Ellis and Nathan Martin's brother, Yohanne, never faced trial in connection with the death of Christopher Clarke.
Trial raised 'witness protection' to new level
More gangsters and terrorists could now face trial because of ground-breaking measures taken in the Aston case to persuade witnesses to testify, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
In what is thought to be a first in a criminal trial in England, the voices of key witnesses were distorted so the accused were unable to recognise who was giving evidence in the screened-off witness box.
Gangs spread fear with 'spray and pray' weaponry
The intense climate of fear generated by the two gangs involved in the crossfire outside the Uniseven hair salon is built on simple foundations - the use of terrifying weapons such as the MAC-10 machine pistol.
The American-made assault weapon, which was used in the Birchfield Road shootings, is capable of firing 1,200 rounds each minute and, as the Crown asserted during the trial, was certain to lead to what the military would describe as "collateral damage".
See Saturday's Birmingham Post for more on the Aston trial.