Murder of Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare

Two teenage girls, Charlene Ellis, 18, and Letisha Shakespeare, 17, were shot with a MAC-10 machine pistol, outside a hair salon in Birchfield Road, Aston, Birmingham, England, as they were leaving a party in the early hours of 2 January 2003, in a gang-related drive-by shooting.[1][2] Shakespeare and Ellis were described as "best friends" and "innocent victims".[3]

Murder of Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare
LocationBirchfield Road, Aston, Birmingham
DateJanuary 2, 2003 (2003-01-02)
Attack type
drive-by shooting
WeaponsMAC-10 machine pistol
PerpetratorMarcus Ellis, Michael Gregory, Nathan Martin, Rodrigo Simms
MotiveRevenge for the murder of Yohanne Martin

Charlene's twin sister Sophie, cousin Cheryl Shaw and a friend, Leon Harris, were also injured. Shaw was shot in the hand.[3]

The shooting, investigated by the West Midlands Police under its new Chief Constable, Paul Scott-Lee, was part of a feud between two Birmingham gangs, the "Johnson Crew" and the "Burger Bar Boys", and was in response to the murder of Yohanne Martin, a Burger Bar Boys associate.[4]

Four men were each convicted of murder and attempted murder at Leicester Crown Court in March 2005. Marcus Ellis, 24 (Charlene's half-brother), Michael Gregory, 22, and Nathan Martin, 26 (brother of Yohanne[4]), were jailed for a minimum of 35 years. Rodrigo Simms, 20, was sentenced to 27 years – the lesser figure being due to his age at the time of the shooting.[5] The trial was the first in England at which secret witnesses were allowed to be used.[4] In 2005, the convicted men appealed at Woolwich Crown Court but the appeal was turned down.[4] They were also refused leave to appeal to the House of Lords.[4] In 2012, Ellis, Martin and Simms appealed to the European Court of Human Rights that they had not received a fair trial. This appeal was also dismissed.[4]

The mothers of the two dead women, Marcia Shakespeare and Beverley Thomas, have since actively campaigned against gun crime and gangs.[3] They set up the 'Letisha and Charlene Education Awards', administered by the Birmingham & Black Country Community Foundation, a registered charity,[6] in 2006.[4] In December 2016 it was announced that Marcia Shakespeare had been appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours.[7]

In 2018, Libera, an Italian association that promotes outreach activities and various types of protest action against organised crime, remembered Letisha and Charlene among other nearly 900 names of innocent victims of organised crime during the 23rd Day of Remembrance and Commitment.[8]


  1. ^ "January 2003 interview re deaths of two black girls in Aston on BBC". Breakfast with Frost. BBC. 5 January 2003. Retrieved 26 March 2008.
  2. ^ "Thrown in at the deep end". West Midlands Police. 21 July 2014. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Wilson, Peter (2 January 2013). "BBC News – Letisha Shakespeare and Charlene Ellis shootings: 10 years on". BBC Online. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g McCarthy, Nick (January 2013). "New Year shootings: Letisha Shakespeare's mother reveals her living nightmare". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Four jailed for New Year killings". BBC Online. 21 March 2005. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  6. ^ "Birmingham & Black Country Community Foundation, registered charity no. 1048162". Charity Commission for England and Wales.
  7. ^ "New Year Honours: Marcia Shakespeare and Karen Ross recognised". BBC Online. 30 December 2016. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  8. ^ "Nomi da non dimenticare". 21 March 2018.

External linksEdit

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