Case of Northampton girl and friend shot dead in drive-by shooting will not return to court, judge rules

Letisha Shakespeare, 17, was murdered in a gangland shooting in Birmingham in 2003.
Letisha Shakespeare, 17, was murdered in a gangland shooting in Birmingham in 2003.

The case of two men jailed for murdering a Northampton teenager in a drive-by shooting will not be brought back to court after a legal challenge was denied by a judge.

Letisha Shakespeare, 17, from Northampton, and friend Charlene Ellis, 18, were shot dead in Birmingham in January 2003.

Marcus Ellis and Rodrigo Simms, along with two other men, were sentenced to life in prison for the gangland shooting.

But in September, a lawyer representing the two killers had applied to have the anonymity of a key witness in the case lifted amid "new evidence".

However, a judge has ruled that the witness would not be named and stated there had been 'no material change' since the end of the trial', meaning the case will not return to court.

After the ruling, Letisha's mother spoke outside the court and told the BBC: "My reaction when they were sentenced was justice had been served.

"I will continue to come and fight for Letisha and Charlene who lost their lives through no fault of their own. By going out enjoying themselves, they were murdered.

"Once you have committed a crime you should do the time."

During the 2003 trial, the jury heard the testimony of a man whose identity was concealed and was only known to the judge and the prosecutor.

Earlier this year, Ellis and Simms' lawyer - Errol Robinson - applied to reveal the witness's true identity because the defence was unable to test his account in the original trial.

But the application has now been turned down.

The girls were killed in the early hours of January 2, 2003, while at a New Year's party at a Birmingham hair salon.

The shooting was a revenge attack by the four defendants, who were all members of the Burger Bar Boys gang.

Marcus Ellis, Michael Gregory, Nathan Martin and Rodrigo Simms were jailed for life by a judge at Leicester Crown Court.

In sentencing, Mr Justice Goldring told Ellis, Gregory and Martin: "Those who were killed were wholly innocent people. Not a shred of remorse has been exhibited, moreover, and public interest demands the highest possible deterrent.

"No society can permit this sort of behaviour to take place without the gravest retribution."