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Last Updated: Monday, 21 March, 2005, 12:25 GMT
Four jailed for New Year killings
Clockwise from top left; Rodrigo Simms, Marcus Ellis, Michael Gregory, Nathan Martin
The judge said the four men showed "no remorse"
Four men convicted of murdering two friends at a party in Birmingham have been jailed for life.

Letisha Shakespeare, 17, and Charlene Ellis, 18, were shot outside a hair salon in Aston on 2 January 2003.

Charlene's half-brother Marcus Ellis, 24, Michael Gregory, 22, and Nathan Martin, 26, must serve at least 35 years after being found guilty.

Rodrigo Simms, 20, also convicted of the murders, was sentenced to 27 years at Leicester Crown Court on Monday.

'No remorse'

The judge handed a lesser sentence to Simms because of his younger age. He was 18 at the time of the incident.

The men were all convicted by majority verdicts, with the exception of Ellis, who was convicted unanimously.

Ellis and Simms' solicitor said they would appeal against the convictions.

A fifth defendant, Jermaine Carty, was cleared of possessing a firearm and walked free from court.

We put our faith in the police and me and Bev (Charlene's mother) would just like to say that Charlene and Letisha can rest in peace... Justice has been served
Marcia Shakespeare

Mr Justice Goldring said on Monday the men showed no remorse and the "painstaking analysis" of the mobile phone evidence had formed the foundation of their conviction.

"The aggravating features are clear: this was gang warfare played out on the streets of Birmingham. Lethal weapons were used. The intention was to kill," he told Ellis, Gregory and Martin.

"Not a shred of remorse has been exhibited, moreover, and public interest demands the highest possible deterrent."

Letisha and Charlene were hit outside a party in Aston, Birmingham, on 2 January 2003 in what the jury was told was a botched gang attack.

'Enough is enough'

The girls had gone to the party at a hair salon in Birchfield Road and while they were outside with friends, the killers drove by and fired a sub-machine gun, hitting both girls several times. Charlene's twin sister Sophie, their cousin Cheryl Shaw, and friend Leon Harris were injured.

Speaking outside the court after sentencing, Letisha's mother Marcia Shakespeare said: "We put our faith in the police and me and Bev (Charlene's mother) would just like to say that Charlene and Letisha can rest in peace. Justice has been served."

Answering a question about the message the sentences sent out to gangs she said: "Enough is enough. It needs to stop now. They (Letisha and Charlene) did not die in vain and I am glad that justice has been served."

Det Supt Dave Mirfield, who led the investigation for West Midlands Police, told reporters: "Four men will today be starting a total of 132 years in prison.

Charlene Ellis (left) and Letisha Shakespeare
The friends were killed in a botched gang attack, the jury heard

"The message this sentence sends out is that guns and gangs will not win.

"Justice will always win and any youngster who sees this today, take it as a wake-up call while you still have a chance."

Ellis, Gregory, Martin and Simms were also convicted of three counts of attempting to murder Sophie Ellis and Cheryl Shaw.

Simms was sentenced to 18 years for the attempted murder charge, to run concurrently, and the remaining three men received 24 years, to also run concurrently.

Ellis, Gregory and Martin were additionally convicted of attempting to murder Leon Harris. Simms was cleared of that charge.

All four have been on remand for approximately 500 days which will be taken into account.

Errol Robinson, Ellis and Simms' solicitor, said there had been a "grave miscarriage of justice" and branded the trial "one the most unfair trials of modern times".

Letisha Shakespeare's mother speaks outside court

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