[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK
Killer was 'lowest of the low'
By Chris Summers
BBC News

A man has been convicted of murdering a seven-year-old, who was shot in the back at her father's home in north-west London. Who was the man who pulled the trigger?

Crack dealers are seen by most criminals as the lowest of the low.

Toni-Ann's life
Toni-Ann Byfield and her father Bertram
Born in Jamaica in 1996
Lived with Bertram Byfield's ex-wife until coming to England in 2000
Lived with relatives in Birmingham but spent time with Byfield in London
On 13 September 2003 she was spending the weekend with Byfield
DNA tests after their deaths proved they were not related

Joel Smith was one notch lower - a man not only prepared to push the highly addictive drug and to rob and shoot other dealers - but also to kill a seven-year-old girl who witnessed him killing the man she knew as her father.

On 13 September 2003 Toni-Ann Byfield had enjoyed a "special day".

Bertram Byfield - who DNA tests would posthumously prove was actually not related to her - had taken her to Brent Cross shopping centre to buy a uniform as she was starting at a new school the following Monday.

Afterwards they had visited a friend, Shelley (not her real name), who said Toni-Ann had not stopped talking about her school, as she was so excited at the thought of making new friends.

They left Shelley's home at 11pm and returned to Byfield's accommodation in an ex-offenders' hostel in Kensal Green, north-west London.

'Contract killing'

An hour later, as Toni-Ann was getting ready for bed, Smith knocked on the door on the pretext of buying some cannabis from Mr Byfield, who was known as Tony or by the street name Blacka.

Joel Smith
Joel Smith realised Toni-Ann could identify him

Mr Byfield let him in but Smith had not come to buy drugs - he later told a cellmate he had been paid 25,000 to assassinate Blacka.

Smith was led him into the living room and when he pulled a 9mm semi-automatic out of his pocket Mr Byfield made a grab for a bicycle, which was propped up against the wall.

He probably meant to throw it as his assailant but Smith shot him three times and his body was later found entangled with the bicycle frame.

Toni-Ann, who was getting ready for bed, had wandered into the room and when Smith saw her he panicked, knowing she might be able to identify him.

No witnesses

As she screamed and turned to flee he shot her in the back. It was a single fatal shot.

Smith would have had to step over her body to leave the flat.

A neighbour heard the bangs but did not instantly recognise them as gunshots so Smith got away without being seen by any eyewitnesses.

A man who can shoot a seven-year-old girl in the back does not deserve to rejoin society
Roselyn Richards
Toni-Ann's mother

But he would not escape justice forever.

Toni-Ann's mother, Roselyn Richards, said: "I will never understand Joel Smith. A man who can shoot a seven-year-old girl in the back does not deserve to rejoin society. He has shown no remorse, maintaining his innocence in spite of the overwhelming evidence against him."




RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific