Page last updated at 15:09 GMT, Tuesday, 2 September 2008 16:09 UK

Ex-boxer killed in 'smoking row'

James Oyebola
Mr Oyebola was a former British heavyweight boxing champion

A former British boxing champion was murdered for asking a group of men to stop smoking, the Old Bailey has heard.

James Oyebola, 46, was shot in the neck and leg at Chateau 6 nightclub in Fulham, south-west London, in July last year. He died four days later.

He was a former British heavyweight boxing champion.

Kanyanta Mulenga, 23, Rene McKoy, 20, and Dean Francis, 24, who are both from south-west London, deny murder and affray.

The defendants were among 50 people at a party night at the club when the attack happened, jurors heard.

"In the course of the resulting confrontation with these defendants, one of them produced a gun and fired four bullets - two striking the hapless Mr Oyebola," said Jeremy Donne QC, prosecuting.

The pathologist cannot say in what sequence the wounds were caused but the shot to the neck would have been debilitating
Jeremy Donne QC, prosecuting

Mr Oyebola was enjoying a quiet drink in a small courtyard known as the Garden Bar at the back of the building.

The garden space has a retracting roof and therefore it was an enclosed area and subject to the smoking ban, said Mr Donne.

"A number of witnesses who saw him assumed he was a bouncer, partly because of his size - 6ft 9in and powerfully built - and partly because he was asking people not to smoke in the garden area.

"He did so in a perfectly pleasant way and no-one took offence."

James Cornwell, the DJ at the club, heard a disturbance and looked out towards the garden to see what was happening.

"He saw the victim standing inside the garden being jostled by three men. He thought it looked like a giant against kids," said Mr Donne.

'Casual exit'

A fourth man was apparently pushing them apart but Mr Cornwell had the impression that he also "had an issue" with Mr Oyebola.

Mr Cornwell saw pushing and shoving, and then a "break". According to the other witnesses, the gun was then fired into the roof.

The CCTV footage was played to the jury allegedly showing "an angular shape like a shallow V" which Mr Mulenga held under his shirt as he and the other defendants left.

The four men were seen leaving in a "comparatively casual way" while there was a "rush of people running out".

As the men left the boxer was seen collapsing.

A bullet had hit Mr Oyebola in the calf and another entered the back of his neck, piercing the carotid artery, a major vessel which supplies blood to the brain.

Mr Donne said: "The pathologist cannot say in what sequence the wounds were caused but the shot to the neck would have been debilitating - Mr Oyebola can be seen to slump on to the bar immediately afterwards."

Mr Donne added that although the shots were allegedly fired by one person, the others were equally guilty of murder as they were aware of the loaded gun.

The boxer died four days later in hospital due to blood loss.

The trial continues.

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