A man who shot a 12-year-old boy in a cowardly drive-by shooting and then bragged about the incident in a prison cell rap has been found guilty of attempted murder.
The 12-year-old victim suffered from serious leg injuries when 25-year-old Stephen Dunford opened fire indiscriminately on a group of boys in Northern Avenue, Sheffield, as he drove by his victims.
The boy and his friends agreed to meet at the shops because they had planned to go to a local park.
Dunford was later recorded in his cell saying: “I was really trying to take him away. Then a youth got a stray [bullet]”. Dunford, also from Sheffield, initially denied the offence but he was found guilty by a jury following a trial.
Dunford was also found guilty of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life in relation to the incident on 12 January and a separate shooting in Northcote Avenue two days earlier.
During his trial, Sheffield Crown Court heard how Dunford was one of a group of masked men travelling in a white Ford Focus. Dunford opened fire on the group of boys as they stood outside a row of shops in Arbourthorne.
The 12-year-old child told investigating officers that he saw the Focus drive up before “they started shooting everywhere”.
With the windows of the vehicle wound down, the victim recognised Stephen Dunford sitting in the front passenger seat holding a shotgun. There was another passenger in the back seat holding a long-barrelled shotgun. Multiple shots were fired indiscriminately at the group. Dunford was heard to say ‘We got one’.
The boy still has the round wedged in his leg after doctors were unable to remove it without the risk of causing fatal harm to him.
A second boy narrowly avoided being shot in the head after a bullet passed through the hood of his jumper, inches away from his skull.
Officers said that the groups of boys were “innocent bystanders” who were most likely caught up in a feud between local rival gangs.
The court heard that Dunford was later recorded rapping about the horrific shooting while in custody. At one stage, Dunford spoke about “five shootings in two days” before saying: “Since I come jail the shooting stopped.”
Julian Briggs from the Crown Prosecution Service said:
“Although it is likely that the young boy was not the intended target, the jury decided that Dunford’s clear intention that day was to kill someone, and today they found him guilty of attempted murder.
“It is only by great good fortune that Dunford’s actions did not result in the tragic death of the 12-year-old child. The second child also narrowly escaped serious injury or death.
“We would like to extend our thanks to the young victim for his bravery and co-operation with the police investigation, which allowed us to build a strong prosecution case.
“Because of his age, the evidence that he gave was recorded in advance of the trial and the DVD shown to the jury so that he was not required to attend court to be cross-examined in person.
“Dunford is a highly dangerous individual, and he is now facing a long jail sentence.
“Our thoughts remain with the boy and his family, as he continues to recover from his injury.”
In addition, fellow gang member Brandon Bailey was also found guilty of conspiring to possess a second firearm with the intention of endangering life, also in January 2020.
Dunford had earlier pleaded guilty to an allegation of dangerous driving on 24th November 2019 in the same vehicle as that used in the shooting. Brandon Bailey had previously pleaded guilty to an allegation of possessing £19,970 cash representing the proceeds of crime.
Dunford and Bailey will be sentenced on 2 October.