NEWS
14/12/2018 13:59 GMT | Updated 14/12/2018 15:51 GMT

Jamelia's Step-Brother Tafarwa Beckford Found Guilty Of Murder

He will be sentenced next week.

Tafarwa Beckford, the step-brother of pop star Jamelia, has been found guilty of murder. 

The 36-year-old was charged with killing Derek Junior Myers, 25, who died after suffering a gunshot wound in the Hockley area of Birmingham. 

Throughout proceedings at Birmingham Crown Court he was allowed to use the name Theodore to prevent prejudices affecting the trial.

The court heard that Myers was shot as part of a “revenge attack” during an altercation between two groups of men.

Beckford’s friend, Marvin Duffus, had been targeted outside the Big Bang snooker club, suffering multiple stab wounds. 

In CCTV footage shown to the jury, Beckford could be seen walking away from Duffus and towards the other while “brandishing a gun”, the prosecution said.

“His left arm is pointing towards the group containing, amongst others, the man who must have just shot and seriously injured Marvin Duffus,” prosecutor Annabel Darlow told the court.

Jurors were not told that Beckford – known by the street names “Dreads” and “Charmer” – was acquitted of murder in both 2000 and 2005 after gang-related killings, including an infamous New Year’s Day shooting in Aston, Birmingham.

Myers died after being hit in the chest and jaw when Beckford opened fire during a mass brawl which left another victim with life-changing injuries.

The court’s decision to allow Beckford to replace his first name with his middle name was taken due to online media reports linking him to Birmingham’s Burger Bar Crew gang.

Lawyers acting for Beckford argued that there was a “particularly large” number of media articles about him because he was a close relation of Jamelia.

Beckford refused to give evidence from the witness box, but denied involvement in the killing or the Burger Bar gang, which was responsible for the 2003 machine gun murders of teenagers Letisha Shakespeare and Charlene Ellis.

Police charged Beckford with the teenagers’ murder in November 2003 but he was cleared part-way through a trial in 2005, following a submission of insufficient evidence.

Jurors at Leicester Crown Court were directed to clear Beckford, as the only real evidence against him was the testimony of a convicted rival gangster who claimed to have witnessed the machine gun shooting. 

The then-17-year-old was also accused of the March 2000 Birmingham nightclub murder of Christopher Clarke – who was stabbed and beaten with champagne bottles.

The judge at the trial described Beckford as being part of a gang which descended on their victim  “like a pack of wild animals.”

Prosecutors instead proceeded with a lesser charge of affray, for which Beckford received a 30-month sentence.

His latest trial was told that trouble flared outside the Big Bang pool hall in Hockley at about 4am on October 30, 2015.

Police believe the disorder involved factions of the Burger Bar gang following a fall-out between members.

During the violence Marvin Duffas – a friend of Beckford – was stabbed and shot five times at close range, leaving him with brain damage.

Less than a minute later Beckford was caught on CCTV as he shot 25-year-old Myers in an apparent revenge attack.

Despite around 150 people being in the club, and many onlookers witnessing the shootings, only a handful of people came forward.

Officers arrested Beckford, of Duchess Road, Ladywood, Birmingham, at an address in Tividale, West Midlands, a fortnight later.

After the trial, Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Payne said: “Beckford is a dangerous man with a notorious history of involvement in gang violence who we suspect is linked to other shootings.

“He is now a convicted killer…and he’s looking at spending upwards of 30 years behind bars.”

The senior officer added: “He’s clearly somebody, I think, who felt himself to be untouchable. 

“He had such a high-standing in the gang environment that he thought nobody would ever be able to convict him of murder - which is why he behaved with such impunity on the night in question. 

“He is a man who has been linked to previous firearms discharges and murders and he’s somebody who is a really dangerous individual. We are really pleased that he’s now off the streets.”

Prosecutor Annabel Darlow QC told the court Beckford disappeared “beneath the radar” after Myers was killed.

Alleging the shooting was a response to the attack on Duffus, Darlow told jurors firearms were passed from hand to hand “according to need, and according to status” during the violence.

Beckford will be sentenced next week.

Jamelia has spoken in the past about her relatives’ criminality. Her half-brother, Kairo Tumbi Beckford, is serving life in prison for the murder of a teenager who was shot to death in 2003. 

Another half brother Dontre Beckford admitted robbery and burglary at Birmingham Crown Court last year and was jailed for five years and nine months.

In 2010 Tobias Rowe, the pop star’s step-brother, was imprisoned for a minimum of 12 years for attempted murder.

Speaking to a local newspaper at the time, Jamelia said: “I have four biological brothers and 10 step-brothers and none has had any encouragement or a proper job. They’ve not been encouraged by schools or society.” 

West Midlands Police
Tafarwa Beckford