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The family of a young father blasted to death with a shotgun demanded justice for his children today after the case against a key suspect collapsed.
Akeem Moore, 22, a gifted footballer and aspiring rapper who performed under the name Tuggzy, was killed when a gunman burst into a garden in Croydon, opened fire and fled.
Another man was injured in the attack on October 7 last year.
Benjamin Wallace, 36, had been due to face trial at the Old Bailey on Monday but the case was dropped after the CPS ruled there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.
Duncan Atkinson QC said evidence given by Wallace’s then partner Florence Roche had been retracted and she had told officers she made the statement as she was “feeling vengeful”.
Mr Moore’s aunt Yvette Hinchley, 51, told the Standard: “We as a family are devastated and we don’t know what to do now. We are desperate to find the killer and get him behind bars.
“Akeem’s children are still very young. They don’t understand what happened and keep asking questions about him.
“They think their father is playing football up in heaven and all they want to do is go and play with him up there too.
“We need to get answers for them.”
At the Old Bailey, Mr Atkinson said Ms Roche had originally told detectives that Wallace “had come back after the shooting and had asked her to wash the tracksuit that he had been wearing, telling her that there was a boy’s brains on it.”
He said there was evidence from Ms Roche’s medical records which undermined her credibility, adding: “The Crown has concluded that that combination of factors means there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction in relation to the counts of murder, attempted murder and possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.”
Prosecutors had claimed that Wallace attacked Mr Moore and the other man after they “slighted” him during a violent altercation three days earlier.
The court was told that CCTV, telephone and cell site evidence established that Wallace was “in the vicinity” of Eastney Road at the time of the killing, but there were other suspects who could not be eliminated.
Richard Carey-Hughes QC, defending, said: “Mr Wallace has maintained vigorously and steadfastly his innocence to this charge, and maintains throughout that Florence Roche has a grudge against him.”
Judge Stephen Kramer said: “It is unusual for no evidence to be offered in a murder, let alone a murder by shooting, but I am satisfied that the appropriate course is the one suggested.”
Wallace, who spent six months on remand in Pentonville, thanked the judge after he recorded not guilty verdicts to the three charges.
London News & Search