BY YANN TEAR
Police are renewing appeals for witnesses and information on the ninth anniversary of a fatal shooting.
And the victim’s mother has issued an impassioned statement about the pain she still feels about the loss of her son, and a heartfelt plea for the killer to be brought to justice.
Yesterday marked nine years since Daniel Omari Smith was murdered by a single gunshot.
Daniel, a qualified electrician from Paddington, was 22 years old, and was killed in Harrow Road in what police say can only explain as a case of mistaken identity.
Officers believe that people may have seen what happened and recognise the perpetrators of this crime but are reluctant to come forward.
On May 21, 2010, Daniel finished work shortly before 5pm.
It was a Friday and he had arranged to meet a friend from work. On his way home, Daniel rang his sister, Cherrell, and said he was going to a Kentucky Fried Chicken shop.
The person police believe was the intended victim, a young black man of a similar age, build and dress to Daniel, went into the KFC restaurant minutes before him.
At around 12.15am, Daniel collected his food and left the KFC. He walked towards his car and as he reached the driver’s door he was approached by at least one suspect holding a gun. He was shot in the back of the left shoulder/upper arm.
The bullet travelled into his chest, causing fatal injuries. After being shot outside his vehicle, Daniel staggered back across Harrow Road into KFC, where he collapsed. He died at the scene.
Harrow Road is a bustling area of London, even at around midnight on a Friday. A number of people in the area were spoken to during the course of the investigation, but it is believed other witnesses did not come forward at the time.
Forensic evidence suggests the gun used in the murder of Daniel was also used in two further shooting incidents in the West Midlands area, and officers would also like to appeal to anyone who could help them recover this firearm.
Numerous investigations and enquiries have taken place over the years into the murder.
On July 11, 2012 after officers had put their best case forward, four men were found not guilty at the Old Bailey.
Detective Inspector Justin Howick, of the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: “Our investigation strongly suggests that Daniel’s murder was a case of mistaken identity, albeit nobody deserves to be shot in the street.
“We are appealing for information nine years on because circumstances change. Witnesses who felt unable to engage with the investigation at the time may now feel more able to tell us what they know and ultimately provide some much-needed peace for Daniel’s family.”
Daniel’s mother, Winnie, said: “Daniel was my light and life. He filled my heart with joy and was a son to be proud of. I am still very proud of Daniel. I miss him so much. “He held me up whenever I was down. His favourite line was “Mum, we can do it” and I miss hearing him say that.
“It used to feel like we were a family of four that stood on four pillars. But nine years ago the biggest pillar was removed. That was my son, Daniel. He filled the gap in all our lives because he was there for all of us.
“Daniel, like the rest of us enjoyed family. Family meant everything to him. “His sister is getting married next year. We talked about times like that and how he would walk her down the aisle. He was such an important part of our lives.
“Now I have two grandchildren and they will grow up without knowing their uncle and the amazing person he was. This is often very hard as the eldest one always talks about him and wants to know so much about her uncle Dan.
“Moments like these are extremely hard and painful but they bring so much joy to our lives and that helps bridge the gap at times.
“What has bothered me so much for the last nine years is how people can live with their conscience knowing that we have never had justice and the people who killed my son, an innocent man, still walk the streets.
“I would like to appeal to those who have information and know that these people killed my son. I would like for you to free yourselves, your minds, your conscience because I am sure, as hard as it has been for my family for nine years, it must be troubling for you too.
“If you have the information please come forward or anonymously contact the Met. Let’s help to stop the suffering and pain that has been caused by these individuals.”
Anyone who can assist should call the incident room on 020 8785 8119. If you wish to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
In total, 12 people have been arrested in connection with the investigation. Four were charged but acquitted at court, eight have been released with no further action.