Three men have been found guilty today, Wednesday, 11 April, of the murder of Aseel Al-Essaie in the Daniel Hill area of Sheffield.
Matthew Cohen 29, of Clough Wood View, Sheffield, Dale Gordon, 33, of Benty Lane, Sheffield and Keil Bryan, 32, of Brackley Street, Sheffield have been found guilty by a unanimous jury verdict, after a seven week trial at Sheffield Crown Court, for the murder of Mr Al-Essaie in February last year.
Cohen also pleaded guilty on the last day of the trial to perverting the course of justice.
On the afternoon of Saturday 18 February 2017, Mr Al-Essaie was fatally shot whilst driving through the Daniel Hill area of Upperthorpe, Sheffield.
A murder investigation was immediately launched and officers began working to identify the circumstances of the drive by shooting as Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Steve Whittaker explains: “To understand the sequence of events that ultimately led to Mr Al-Essaie’s death, a dedicated team of detectives have been working tirelessly over the past 14 months to carry out a lengthy and in-depth investigation to identify exactly what happened that day.
“It is through this investigation and multiple enquires, we revealed a dispute in the weeks prior to the fatal shooting was the catalyst that ultimately led to his murder in February.”
At around 1.30pm on 18 February, 23-year-old Mr Al-Essaie from Sheffield was travelling through the Upperthorpe area in a black Mercedes, on his way to a family engagement party. As he approached Daniel Hill a dark grey VW Golf, which was driven by Cohen with Gordon in the passenger seat and Bryan in the back, pulled up alongside him.
As the cars were side by side the men, who were known to each other, began engaging in a short conversation which turned into an argument. It was during this argument Gordon produced a .44 calibre gun, described in court as a ‘Dirty Harry style’ firearm with a large barrel, and fired a shot at Mr Al-Essaie.
A post-mortem examination concluded it was this single gunshot wound to his shoulder, which travelled through his heart, that killed Mr Al-Essaie
DCI Whittaker continued: “Weeks prior to Saturday 18 February it is understood three men in possession of a gun, one of whom is believed to have been Cohen, made threats towards Mr Al-Essie because of recent tensions between members of the Al-Essaie family and Cohen.”
In the hours following Mr Al-Essaie’s death the three men assisted by a number of associates, attempted to dispose of evidence that connected them to the murder and cover up their movements prior to and following the shooting.
DCI Whittaker said: “Detectives reviewed in excess of 130 hours of CCTV footage from Upperthorpe and the surrounding areas covering a large part of Sheffield, which showed the men travelling in the VW Golf around Daniel Hill in the minutes before Mr Al-Essaie was shot. Within an hour after the shooting the VW Golf used in the drive-by shooting was found to have been burnt out in an effort to destroy evidence and any connection to the murder.
“Using this information and evidence through CCTV and mobile phone analysis we were able to corroborate the movements of Cohen, Dale and Gordon and the associates who assisted them. One associate being James Good, 30, of Ringstead Crescent, Sheffield who pleaded guilty on the last day of the trial to perverting the course of justice.
“In the minutes after the shooting, Cohen contacted Good who went on to buy petrol and assist in burning the VW Golf in a country Lane in Wortley, Sheffield. The three offenders from the VW Golf, were all then taken back to Good’s address, where they stayed for a number of hours, in an attempt to evade justice.
DCI Whittaker concluded: “I hope Mr Al-Essaie’s family are able to take some solace from today’s outcome, knowing justice has finally been served. This has been a complex and lengthy investigation. Not one of the defendants spoke to the police; some witnesses were reluctant to engage with the police, making our job even more difficult. We have downloaded and viewed hundreds of hours of CCTV footage and ANPR cameras, recovered almost 2,000 exhibits, obtained 700 witness statements and downloaded over 100 devices and telephones. Through careful analysis we were able to link the offenders to the vehicle and the scene.
“This has been one of the largest murder investigations that South Yorkshire Police have conducted over the past few years. As a result, I would personally like to thank the team of officers working on the case, as it has been through their hard work and dedication that we have been able to achieve this positive result today.”
They have all now been remanded into custody until sentencing on 27 April.
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