Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Friday, 16 January 2009

When death came to the dance floor

By Chris Summers
BBC News

A man has been convicted of murdering a teenage girl by shooting her on the dance floor of a London club. What lay behind the tragedy?

Annaka Pinto
Miss Pinto danced at parties as a member of X-Squad

When Annaka Pinto was gunned down on the dance floor of a pub in north London, detectives had the benefit of CCTV cameras which had recorded the night's events.

But the camera footage was not conclusive. It showed a fight breaking out soon after the lights came on as the all-night dance came to an end around 5am.

After the shot was fired people could be seen running for the exit, leaving the crumpled body of Annaka on the floor. She died later in hospital.

The prime suspect, Triston Walker, would claim that during the melee he stumbled into a man called Rowan "Big Head" Campbell, and grabbed his gun off him.

The gun then went off accidentally as Walker held it - he claimed - and shot Annaka in the head.

Walker, 21, claimed he panicked and fled the club, hiding out in Oxford for several days.

He was helped by a friend, Ricardo Lumsden, 32, from Edmonton, who rented a house in Oxford for Walker.

Lumsden was convicted of assisting an offender.

The Swan pub
The Swan has since been closed down on police advice

Walker's girlfriend, Simone Manning, was later cleared of assisting an offender. She came across as a young woman out of her depth in the frightening world of drugs and guns.

Miss Manning, who has a young child and is studying at university with the aim of becoming a primary school teacher, was motivated by loyalty and fears for her boyfriend's life.

Her barrister James Hines said there were rumours in the Tottenham area that Miss Pinto's family were looking for revenge.

He said: "A pirate radio station, Mystic FM, had broadcast a phone-in programme during which people were calling in and naming those responsible for the shooting and calling for them to be killed."

Miss Manning said she too had been forced to go into hiding.

She admitted visiting Walker in Oxford but said she was trying to persuade him to give himself up and was terrified at the prospect of him being shot dead by armed police.

After he was eventually arrested, Walker claimed someone else was the shooter - until the police showed him the CCTV tape, which clearly showed him with the gun in his hand.

Triston Walker
Miss Manning said she was terrified Walker would be killed by armed police

Later the full story emerged.

David Jeremy QC, prosecuting, said Lasticia, the sister of Walker's girlfriend Simone Manning, had fallen out with fellow members of the X Squad, an all-girl dance troupe.

He said the ill-feeling flared up during the dance at The Swan pub in Tottenham on 23 June last year.

But Walker's lawyer, Jane Humphryes, painted a different picture of the X Squad and suggested they were engaged in shoplifting and selling cannabis.

In the witness box, one of the X Squad girls, Tashina Walker, denied Ms Humphryes' claims that she was friendly with 'Big Head' and smoked cannabis with him.

Another witness broke down and wept as the CCTV footage of the shooting was played to the court.

Last January, Haringey Council revoked The Swan's licence after hearing evidence from the police of crime, disorder, drug use and breaches of licensing hours.

Richard Brown, deputy head teacher at Gladesmore Community School, South Tottenham, where Annaka studied, said at the time of her death: "She was a cheerful student, worked hard and wanted to enjoy a good social life. We will all miss her."

Walker and Lumsden will be sentenced next week.



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