‘Al Capone tactics’ will help bring gun criminals to justice, says Scotland Yard chief

·3-min read
Tim Mustoe (ES Picture Desk)
Tim Mustoe (ES Picture Desk)

Scotland Yard’s new head of gun crime vowed to exploit Al Capone-style tactics to put away criminals as London’s spate of shootings claimed its fourth victim in a month.

Detective Superintendent Tim Mustoe spoke out after Kacey Boothe, 25, was gunned down outside a child’s first birthday party at a church community centre in Walthamstow on Saturday night.

He called the killings of Mr Boothe, Daneche Tison, 26, Camilo Palacio, 23, and Sam Brown, 28, since July 19 “an absolute tragedy”. Until recently, there hadn’t been a deadly gun attack in the capital for nine months.

A new initiative, Operation Elie, sees senior officers review every shooting around the clock, looking for opportunities to get ahead of the next one, bring criminals to justice and reassure communities.

In the same way US authorities finally got gangster Capone for tax evasion in 1931, Met officers recently went after a suspected shooter for his county lines drug dealing. He was remanded in custody to prevent him being killed or committing a crime.

Mr Mustoe said he also planned to explore, as part of his gun crime strategy, this week’s Old Bailey case of Billy McCullagh, whose three associates were found guilty of murdering him even though he was shot dead by their rivals. The killers of McCullagh, 27, known as “Billy the Kid”, were never caught but the prosecution argued his friends were responsible because they engaged in a shoot-out knowing it was a virtual certainty that the other side would fire back.

Mr Mustoe said: “The McCullagh case sends a really important message to gang members: we will look to bring you to justice. My teams are asking: ‘Who is responsible? Who is holding the gun and where is it now?’ It enables us to take a proactive response to stop any reprisals and bring swift justice for the families.”

Gun murders are at a five-year low in London and over the past decade the city’s percentage of national lethal barrel discharges has reduced by 22 per cent. In the three months to June, police seized 274 firearms.

Mr Mustoe said his officers have often seen see a rise in shootings during the summer. He added: “Nevertheless, four people have lost their lives which is an absolute tragedy. I feel so deeply for the families. You join policing to make a difference. The four homicides we have seen this year, to the best of my knowledge, are not linked.

“Each shooting has its own story in relation to those who are involved. High-harm gangs are a real issue for us. There are other factors, it could be anniversaries or long-term held grudges. It might not be there’s been a sudden escalation, it may be this is a long-term held issue that’s been going on for a year or a number of years that we are not aware of.”

Mr Mustoe urged anyone with information on guns to contact police or the charity Crimestoppers anonymously.

To provide information on where firearms are being stored or who is in possession of one, call 999 or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.