Carnage erupted at Birmingham’s Arcadian Center when mobsters associated with the notorious Burger Bar Boys and Johnson Crew met by chance at a party. The mess unfolded at the Levana bar when members believed to be from spin-off groups Armed Response and the Army Goon Squad clashed in August last year.
Birmingham Crown Court heard one of the mobsters involved drew a gun causing panic in the nightclub while another brandished a knife amid scenes where chairs and barriers were thrown. The violence also spilled over into the nearby parking lot where the rivals continued to act aggressively towards each other.
Six of the culprits were subsequently arrested; Shayne Campbell, 26, Ashai Gray, 28, and Theo White, 33, all believed to be affiliated with Armed Response, off filming Burger Bar Boys, as well as Tyrell Meikle, 33, Fabian Williams, 35, and Rikardo Reid, 32, considered members of Johnson Crew’s Goon Squad Army, also known as Get Some Ambition.
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Two other people, including the alleged shooter, are still at large. They all admitted a fighting offense while ‘lead player’ Campbell also pleaded guilty to uttering threats with a knife.
Today, Thursday June 9, Judge Sarah Buckingham called the six defendants ‘pathetic’ as she handed down a mix of immediate and suspended prison sentences. She suggested the violence could have resulted from “disputes over postcodes, territory or revenge for a previous attack”, but added that “the reasons ultimately remain unclear”.
Judge Buckingham said: “Whatever the reasons are clearly pathetic and unnecessary. You are all grown men and not minors. You all have previous convictions.
“Your ego prevents you from seeing reality and accepting the fact that any perceived respect you feel you have or are entitled to due to associations or gang membership is entirely false. Any sense of respect you think receiving is only fear.”
The incident happened on August 2. Prosecutor Caroline Harris said: “The case involves violence between two rival gangs at the Arcadian. Members of AR – Armed Response – which is made up of younger members of the Burger Bar Boys gang, and GSA – Goon Squad Army or Get Some Ambition – which is made up of younger members of the Johnson Crew.”
Summing up each defendant’s individual role, she told the court that White “incited violence” by throwing an object inside the club. He then argued with a rival and threw a punch, but eventually ended up being knocked to the ground unconscious and stomped on.
But White was relatively unharmed and was captured on CCTV in the parking lot shortly after approaching a vehicle and acting aggressively towards the occupants. The prosecutor said Campbell tried to attack someone with a knife in the initial mess and only missed because he slipped on a barrier.
Camera footage also showed the blade sticking out of his pants while he was in the parking lot minutes later. The court heard that Meikle put on gloves before approaching White, hitting him on the head and stomping on him as he lay on the ground.
Gray threw chairs and barriers at rival gang members while Williams threw a drink at White before kicking him in the head as he lay on the ground. Finally, Reid, who was in the smoking area, also kicked the fallen White and pushed a barrier over him.
Judge Buckingham said: “Whether you are members, associates or fully paid supporters, this was a violent incident between two rival gangs at the Arcadian Centre. Members of the public were in attendance, it was dark, patrons Were drunk and relaxed, and certainly not expecting trouble.
“As a result, they and the staff working on site were clearly vulnerable. One of you who was not detained was seen brandishing what appears to be a firearm. Anyone present had to be placed in fear.”
Campbell, who was on license at the time for a gun-related conviction, was jailed for 30 months. Olivia Whitworth, defending, said he had been “exposed to gangs for much of his life”, but added that he had had time to reflect while in custody and now wanted a ” best way” for her newborn son.
Gray, who was also on a Class A drug trafficking license, was jailed for 15 months. Gulam Ahmed, mitigating for him, said he made a “serious mistake” and “regrets his actions”. He added: “He had a paid job (at a real estate agency). He can, when he wants, be a paid member of the community, which he wanted. He thought he had drawn a line under that.”
White’s attorney was not present, but the judge confirmed that she had read the written submissions on his behalf. He was sentenced to an 18-month suspended sentence for two years as well as 35 days of rehabilitation activity and 100 hours of unpaid work.
Williams, also a convicted drug dealer who disputed his association with the GSA, was jailed for 18 months. Geraldine Toal, defending, said: “He is a gentleman with a checkered past, with other convictions on record against him. He is eager to get on with his life, potentially as a law-abiding citizen in due course.”
Reid, who was the “lightest convicted” of the defendants for drug and public order offences, received a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years. He must complete 25 days of rehabilitation activity and 100 hours of unpaid work. Rob Cowley, for him, told the court that he had a music career, developed properties and produced sportswear.
The lawyer added: “He is a busy and industrious man. Despite his background, his early start in life and his early convictions, he is someone who has shown his ability to change his life and has done, but for this recent and out of character behavior.”
Meikle, who has previous convictions for drug-related offences, was given a 20-month suspended sentence for two years and ordered to perform 40 days of rehabilitation activities and 150 hours of unpaid work. Graham Henson, defending, said he had ‘lived and breathed gang culture’ for most of his life, but had ‘tried harder than most’ to leave it of late .
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