Gang member who murdered Peckham teen Rio McFarlane to be sentenced today

Victim Rio McFarlane

Victim Rio McFarlane

A Peckham gang member has been found guilty of murdering an innocent Peckham teenager who police say “inadvertently ended up in the crossfire of a petty dispute between rival gangs.”

Leon Pacquette, 25, from Newent Close in Peckham was convicted yesterday (Monday 31 March) for the murder of Rio McFarlane, 18, as well as the attempted murder of a second man and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

He was found not guilty of the attempted murder of a third man; and a count of possession of a prohibited weapon was left to lie on file.

DC Richard Williamson, Trident Gang Crime Command, said Rio’s murder is a clear example of the disregard gang members hold towards innocent members of the public. “Rio was neither in a gang nor involved in criminality, but he inadvertently ended up in the crossfire of a petty dispute between rival gangs. For the sake of Rio’s family, I am pleased that we have been able to bring the man responsible for his murder to justice and we hope today’s verdict offers some comfort to them.”

On Monday 6 September 2010, at around 9:30pm, officers on patrol heard a gunshot and went to Dragon Road, Peckham to investigate. On arrival they found Rio McFarlane suffering from a gunshot wound. The ambulance attended but he died at the scene. A post-mortem gave the cause of death as a single gunshot wound to the chest.

Despite a lack of co-operation from witnesses, detectives were able to piece together Pacquette’s movements using CCTV and ANPR technology. Forensic evidence also linked the defendant’s jacket to the murder, with gunshot residue and fibres from his car found on the item of clothing.

Just before 9:30pm Rio McFarlane was standing in Dragon Road, talking to two men who were sitting in a silver Lexus. Pacquette fired a shot from the submachine gun from the open passenger window of his vehicle. The bullet passed through the front passenger window of the Lexus fatally hitting Rio in the chest.

DCI Chris Le Pere of Trident Gang Crime Command, said: “Rio’s murder was witnessed but those who could provide significant evidence of who fired the fatal shot either refused to assist or gave an account but refused to complete a statement. With the co-operation of these witnesses this case would have been solved much earlier and therefore reduced the strain which the lengthy investigation has had upon Rio’s family.”

Sentencing will take place today at 3:30pm at the Old Bailey.