A ruthless drug dealer was jailed for life yesterday for shooting dead a seven-year-old girl in the care of Birmingham social services and the man she had believed was her father.
Toni-Ann Byfield was shot in the back after she witnessed 41-year-old Bertram Byfield gunned down by Joel Smith in Kensal Green, London, in September 2003.
The schoolgirl had been staying with Mr Byfield - also a drug dealer - in a hostel for ex-offenders following a series of blunders by care workers which later led to a scathing report against Birmingham social services. Smith (33), of no fixed address, denied both murders and might have got away with "the perfect crime" had he not boasted about it.
The killer, who made his living by robbing drug dealers, later bragged: "I blasted a dad and his daughter, a little kid."
He left London for Liverpool following the shootings but was eventually tracked down two years later while serving a prison sentence in Liverpool.
Jailing him with a recommendation he serve a minimum of 40 years for the killing of Toni-Ann and 33 years for the murder of Mr Byfield, Mr Justice Gross said said he regarded the youngster's killing as exceptional.
"She was a lively seven-year-old full of hope and excitement... not withstanding a somewhat chaotic background."
Bertram Byfield, who survived a 2001 shooting, was hit twice. A third shot missed and a fourth hit the child.
The judge added: "However grimly accustomed one becomes to violent crime there is a particular horror in the shooting in the back at close range of a seven-year-old girl - that is the hallmark of this case.
"Drugs and firearms combine to make an evil mixture."
Smith had caused the death of Bertram - who was also known as Tony - Byfield, most probably because of robbery in a drug related crime or in an assassination attack, said the judge.
Toni-Ann had died because by "tragic chance she happened to be there that night and was a potential witness to the attack".
"The fatal shot was fired into her back. No doubt the intention was to kill. This was a cold blooded, simple and callous shooting," said the judge.
Toni-Ann was born in Jamaica and lived part of her life with Mr Byfield's ex-partner before arriving in England in 2000.
After her death, DNA tests showed Mr Byfield was not her natural father, but that was a fact of which neither was aware.
Shortly after her death, Toni-Ann's mother, Roselyn Richards, voiced fury that the girl was allowed to be with Mr Byfield.
But, as The Birmingham Post revealed, she had given her written permission at the time and had described Byfield as a loving father.
Yesterday, in a statement read by her solicitor outside the court, she mourned the death of her "bright, lovely" daughter as she made a heartfelt appeal against gun culture and expressed the hope her daughter's murderer would never leave jail.