Burger Bar Boys 'Godfather' Nosakhere Stephenson.
The ‘Godfather’ of Birmingham’s feared Burger Bar Boys has been jailed for more than 16 years after selling deadly weapons to other criminals – including a sub-machine gun.
Nosakhere Stephenson, 41, of St Michael’s Road, Handsworth, was the leader of the notorious crime group and thought he was ‘untouchable’ as he dealt in death.
He and his gang provided guns and ammunition to other criminals, including a MAC 10 machine gun similar to that used in the Aston shootings, which left two innocent teenage girls dead.
But Stephenson – known as Nosa – was jailed for 16-and-a-half years on Thursday after being brought to justice by detectives from West Midlands Police.
A further five men were also jailed for a total of more than 50 years for their involvement in the nationwide sale of guns and bullets.
Det Chief Insp Simon Wallis led the elite Serious Organised Crime Unit which smashed the gang and brought the Burger Bar leader to justice.
He said: “Stephenson was widely-regarded as an untouchable ‘Godfather’ but as this case goes to show, nobody is above the law.
“He tried his best to distance himself from his accomplices but the exacting work of my team, poring over CCTV, phone records, vehicle movements and forensic work enabled us to prove he was at the centre of this highly-organised and extremely dangerous gun supply network.
“This case could lead you to believe there are large number of guns or ammunition on the streets of Birmingham.
“The reality remains that gun crime is still falling, making such a haul so significant.
“All cities have challenge around drug gangs and where there are drug gangs there are likely to be guns.
“We’ve made real progress over the last decade and cut gun and gang related crime massively.
“However, recent shootings in Birmingham – some of which have resulted in people losing their lives – highlight why it’s important there’s no let-up in our effort to rid the region of weapons.
“If you’re involved in the illegal supply of firearms in the West Midlands, you’re risking a very hefty prison sentence and it’s only a matter of time before my team catches up with you.
“Today’s result is fantastic because we’ve put some prolific criminals behind bars who have been responsible for bringing dangerous weapons to our city.”
ln 2003 innocent Letisha Shakespeare, 17, and 18-year-old Charlene Ellis died in a hail of bullets fired from a machine gun as they enjoyed a New Year’s party.
Det Con Phil Rodgers said the police operation had undoubtedly prevented more murders.
“We will never know how long this supply chain has been active nor how many guns have passed through it and remain in criminal circulation,’’ he said.
“We can say the guns we have recovered would have gone on to be used at some point.
“The MAC 10 is an indiscriminate weapon.
“Once fired it will spray and kill anyone.
“Birmingham has seen the tragedy such weapons can cause and still bears the sadness.
“Why would anyone knowing of that tragedy touch such a weapon?
“If you buy or sell firearms in Birmingham be prepared for us to be looking for you and expect to spend a long time in prison.
“I am sure we have prevented murders.”
The details of the terrifying trade in guns and bullets was laid bare at Birmingham Crown Court where Stephenson and 13 other men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transfer prohibited weapons and ammunition.
Three others were found guilty of the same charge after trial.
Stephenson’s chief armourer Sundish Nazran, 32, of Nijon Close, Handsworth, was jailed for 13 years.
Rowan Gul, 33, of Bickley Grove, Sheldon, was a “significant link” between suppliers and buyers.
He was sentenced to 12 years and three months.
Theodore Wiggan, 28, of Scaffell Way, West Bromwich, was highly trusted and stored guns and ammunition.
He was given a sentence of ten years.
Louis McDermott, 36, of Monins Avenue, Tipton, was jailed for nine years and four months.
And Fitzroy Ducram, 50, of Raglan Road, Handsworth, was sentenced to seven years and four months.
The remaining defendants are due to be sentenced on Friday.
Andrew Fisher, prosecuting, said the defendants were linked through phone calls made to each other.
He said: “The business of supplying criminal gangs with guns was known.
“It was known that Nosakhere Stephenson was at the heart of it.”
The court heard details of the gun deals and how police acted quickly to arrest offenders.
On April 7 last year, Stephenson met Nazran in the car park of The Birmingham Hotel in Small Heath.
The following day Nazran’s car and another driven by a Joga Mattu were stopped by armed police in Cranbrook Road, Handsworth.
A bag containing a Dutch police revolver and 51 bullets was recovered.
A search of Nazran’s home also discovered a Colt Police Revolver, while a Walther handgun was found in Mattu’s car.
Class A drug dealers Mohammed Miah and Joynal Abdin turned to Stephenson for help when two of their gang were shot at while sitting in a car in Albert Road, Aston, on July 31 last year.
They bought the MAC 10 machine gun and 9mm ammunition from his group and then used Mohammed Ullah to store the weapon.
But police swooped and recovered the machine gun in the back garden of Ullah’s home, along with a shotgun and shotgun cartridges.
Miah was arrested on August 17 while being involved in the exchange of half a kilo (473 grams) of heroin and later pleaded guilty to supplying Class A drugs.
Prosecutor Mr Fisher said another part of the conspiracy involved London gang members Darren Mentore and Clinton Officer who wanted a gun “for some reason” and had contacts in Birmingham.
They came to the city with £3,000 in cash and met with some of the gang in Soho Hill, including Stephenson at one point.
When armed police later moved in they recovered a Dutch revolver loaded with five bullets and 25 rounds of ammunition in the vehicle they were sitting in.
Mentore was a member of notorious London gang, called the Prada Boys, and had previously been jailed following a series of knife-point robberies preying on rich Londoners.
Jewellery and high-performance cars were stolen, including a Porsche belonging to TV presenter Anthea Turner.
Another police raid at a lock-up belonging to Stephenson gang member Wiggan in Baltimore Road, Great Barr, discovered a rucksack containing 387 rounds of various calibers of ammunition and a Webley revolver.
The range of bullets on offer was described as “like a sweet shop” by officers.
Class A drug dealer Ifran Hussain was also in need of a firearm and ammunition, so he turned to Stephenson and the Burger Bar Boys.
He sent two men, Janed Mohammed and Mohammed Fedar, to buy the gun with cash for him.
But after a series of meetings, including one involving Stephenson, armed police swooped on their car and a second gang vehicle and the cash and a French St Etienne revolver were recovered, along with 12 rounds of ammunition.
Hussain was arrested a few weeks later in a Birmingham apartment where £20,000 of crack cocaine and heroin was recovered along with £7,000 cash – hidden in a sack of rice.
The gang members and their customers were all brought to justice through text-book police work and the use of state-of-the-art forensics and ballistics which linked the weapons and guns to the gangs.
The streets are now safer with the men, some of whom led double lives, behind bars.
*In 2006, Stephenson was jailed for 24 years after being convicted of the murder of Ashia Walker in Edgbaston in April 2002.
But he appealed and a retrial was ordered, where he was acquitted.
A gun recovered as part of the police investigation.
Nosakhere Stephenson, 41, St Michaels Road, Handsworth
Sundish Nazran, 32, Nijon Close Handsworth
Louis McDermott, 36, Monins Avenue, Tipton
Rowan Gul, 33, Bickley Grove, Sheldon
Theodore Wiggan, 28, Scaffell Way, West Bromwich
Amar Ghalib, 32, Davey Road, Aston
Mohammed Miah, 24, Downside Road, Birmingham
Fitzroy Ducram, 50, Raglan Road Handsworth
Joga Mattu, 31, Cranbrook Road, Handsworth
Jermal Smith, 34, Springthorpe Green, Erdington
Usman Hussain, 31, Brays Road, Sheldon
Mohammed Fedah, 27, Westfield Road Smethwick
Ifran Hussain, 25, Underwood Road Handsworth
Janed Mohammed, 21, Dibble Road, Smethwick
FOUND GUILTY AFTER TRIAL
Joynal Abdin, 26, Hanover Road, Rowley Regis
Darren Mentore, 34, London N4
Clinton Officer, 32, London W12
*Mohammed Ullah, 29, Frederick Road, Aston, was previously jailed for five years.
A gun recovered as part of the police investigation.
Sentencing Stephenson, Judge James Burbidge QC said: “You were the go-to man and directing mind of this organised crime group if firearms were required.
“In reality, the conspiracy did not operate without you.
“You had significant influence over others and able to command respect and allegiance.
“You must know about the devastation caused to other families in your community when weapons have been used.
“The fact you must know that, yet still ply this trade, is beyond belief.”
Det Con Shani Ashford, who also worked on the police team, said: “Some of these men were quite plausible in their family or social roles.
“Some supported religious groups.
“The fact they could be good in some ways can never balance the evil of what they were doing.
“The power Stephenson held over people was one thing but all knew they were selling death and misery by selling such weapons.”
DCI Wallis said he was ‘immensely proud’ of his team.
He added: “They have worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome understanding that each gun recovered, each bullet recovered, could literally be the difference between life and death.
“They and I also would wish to thank our counsel and Crown Prosecution Team who never faltered in their commitment to an extremely complex case.
“With their expertise the case was such that most pleaded guilty, most noteably Mr Stephenson who even had to concede his role as head.”
Neil Fielding, Specialist Prosecutor from the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service’s Complex Casework Unit, said: “The criminal justice system has today disrupted and dismantled a highly sophisticated gun running business.
“At the head of the criminal gang was Nosakhere Stephenson who, supported by his chief armourer Sundish Nazran, supplied firearms and ammunition to criminals around the country.
“It was clear that these guns could only be intended for use in other serious crime.
“This illegal trade causes real harm to communities putting lives at risk.
“The CPS along with our partner agencies are committed to tacking and prosecuting those who distribute, carry or use illegal firearms.”