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Monday, 4 March, 2002, 13:24 GMT
So Solid member pleads guilty
So Solid Crew
So Solid Crew: A short but troubled career
A member of the UK garage act So Solid Crew, Ashley Walters, is facing a jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to a firearms charge in a London court.

Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC said the offence was so serious that a substantial custodial sentence was inevitable.

Walters, 19, from Peckham, south London, pleaded guilty to possessing a Brocock revolver at Southwark Crown Court.

The offence of possession of a firearm carries a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment.

Ashley Walters
Walters: "Likely to face a custodial sentence"
A further charge of possessing the gun with intent to cause fear of violence was ordered to lie on file.

The allegation relates to an incident with a traffic warden in July last year at Hanover Square, Mayfair, central London.

Prosecution lawyer Stephen Holt said Walters was in his car with his girlfriend, parked next to a meter which had expired.

He said that when Walters was approached by traffic warden Olufemi Onafeko, who asked him to either put money in the meter or drive off, an argument broke out between the two men.

Concerned

The gun was never shown, but Mr Holt said the traffic warden was so concerned about the defendant's behaviour that he called police.

So Solid Crew
The group have been criticised for glamourising violence
When an armed response vehicle stopped the car the weapon was found wrapped in a sock in Walters girlfriend's handbag.

Defence lawyer Simon Pentol said his client was of previous good character.

The case was adjourned to 25 March, to allow pre-sentence reports to be prepared.

Walters's friends and family broke down in tears when they heared bail had been refused.

Walters, who has a seven-month-old daughter and a two-year-old son,was a founding member of the garage group, with whom he goes under the stage name of Asher D.

Previous to joining So Solid Crew, Walters had a number of minor TV roles including parts in Grange Hill, The Bill and The Murder of Stephen Lawrence.

So Solid Crew went to number one in the singles charts with 21 Seconds last August and they won a Brit award last month.

Violence

But the group have been dogged by controversy during their existence.

Recently London mayor Ken Livingstone's race advisor Lee Jasper blamed acts like So Solid Crew for an upsurge in crime in the capital, saying that they glamourised violence and drug-dealing.

So Solid members Oxide and Neutrino have had three UK Top Ten hits
Oxide and Neutrino are members
Early last year, Marcus Hall, an 18-year-old computer administrator, was stabbed and beaten to death after going to see So Solid Crew at a Luton nightclub.

In May last year, one So Solid member was blasted in the leg after a confrontation outside another nightspot.

In summer 2001, violence erupted after the group appeared at a club in the Cypriot resort of Ayia Napa, where one man was stabbed 11 times and needed seven hours of surgery.

In November, two people were shot and wounded during a party at the Astoria Theatre in London held to celebrate the birthday of their singer Romeo.

A tour by the group was cancelled shortly afterwards.

Last October, band member Darren Weir, 22, was convicted of breaking a 16-year-old fan's jaw in a Cardiff hotel lobby after she rejected his advances.

At last month's Brit Awards there was an belligerent confrontation between So Solid members and Best Pop Act winners Westlife.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Kurt Barling
"Ashley Walters was quite measured and calm, but his family and girlfriend burst into tears"
See also:

03 Dec 01 | Music
So Solid upset by cancellations
05 Oct 01 | Music
So Solid Crew: Garage stars
05 Dec 01 | Music
No UK tour for So Solid
01 Nov 01 | Music
Two shot at So Solid Crew party
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