Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 15:02 UK

Care worker killed in 'shoot-out'

Magda Pniewska
Magda Pniewska was shot in the head

A hospital care worker was shot dead when she walked into a "Wild West" style shoot-out, a court has heard.

Magda Pniewska, 26, was caught in the crossfire between two gunmen in New Cross, south London, in October 2007.

Prosecutor Brian Altman QC told the Old Bailey: "She was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

A 17-year-old youth has admitted possessing a prohibited weapon but denies murder, attempted murder and possessing a gun to endanger life.

Mr Altman said Ms Pniewska was yards from her home in John Williams Close, where she lived with her partner, when the shooting started.

Score to settle

He said: "In scenes reminiscent of the Wild West, Magda was to become the innocent victim of a gunfight by two young men who were total strangers to her.

"She was caught in the crossfire between two youths armed with handguns which they were willing to use in public. Each had a score to settle."

Mr Altman alleged the gunmen were two 17-year-old youths - both were arrested but only one of them was charged.

Prosecutors rejected the defendant's claim he fired two or three times into the air but it was accepted that the bullet which killed the care worker did not come from the gun he fired.

The gunfight tragically ended the life of a young woman who had fearlessly given her life to caring for others
Brian Altman, QC

The second youth, who was named by the defendant, has denied being involved and police have been unable to connect him to the incident.

Jurors heard the encounter between the youths was prearranged with the defendant claiming the other owed him money.

He told police that when the pair met the other youth drew his handgun and opened fire.

"He (the defendant) immediately drew his gun and fired in the direction of the other youth before each ran off unharmed," said Mr Altman.

Good spirits

The fact that the defendant's gun had not fired the fatal shot did not absolve him of responsibility, he added.

The court heard Ms Pniewska was in "good spirits" when she finished her shift at Manley Court nursing home, opposite the car park where she died.

Mr Altman said Ms Pniewska, who was shot in the head and died instantly, had dedicated her life to helping others.

The trial continues.

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