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Gang member jailed for shooting boy, 12, in Sheffield drive-by

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·3-min read
Stephen Dunford, left, and Brandon Bailey have been sentenced. (PA/South Yorkshire Police)
Stephen Dunford, left, and Brandon Bailey have been sentenced. (PA/South Yorkshire Police)

A gang member found guilty of the attempted murder of a 12-year-old boy in a drive-by shooting has been jailed for life.

Stephen Dunford, 25, fired a revolver from the passenger seat of a car as it drove past the boy and his friends in Arbourthorne, Sheffield, in January.

The boy was not likely the intended target but was hit in the leg, and doctors have not managed to remove the bullet lodged in his thigh, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

Another child “narrowly escaped serious injury or death” after a bullet passed inches from his head.

Dunford, who was also found guilty in September of possessing the firearm with intent to endanger life on the day of the shooting and an incident two days earlier, was given a minimum term of 19 years in prison on Wednesday.

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC said at Sheffield Crown Court that if both boys had died, Dunford would have been given a whole life tariff.

“It is only a matter of good fortune and chance you did not kill them both,” he said.

The judge went on: “I have no doubt your conduct is corrosive towards society and your life is replete with irredeemable criminality.

“You pose enormous danger to the general public.

The shooting took place in Arbourthorne, Sheffield. (Google Maps)
The shooting took place in Arbourthorne, Sheffield. (Google Maps)

“It is as plain as plain could be that you have engendered immense fear on a whole section of Sheffield and have made the lives of decent citizens bordering, if not passing into, the realm of a living nightmare.

“I wish to make it a matter of pellucid clarity that those who involve themselves with the supply of drugs and make use of firearms to protect, assist or promote that evil trade must receive, and will receive, very severe sentences.”

The judge said Dunford holds “a senior, if not pivotal” role in a gang and added: “This also involves gang rivalry and a form of warfare with other gangs in the Heeley and Arbourthorne districts of Sheffield.”

The boy and a group of friends had planned to go to a fun park near Meadowhall shopping centre when a white car drove past carrying five men wearing hoods and balaclavas.

The CPS said the windows came down and the boy recognised Dunford sitting in the front passenger seat, while another person in the back held a long-barrelled shotgun.

The group was fired at and Dunford was heard to say “we got one”, prosecutors said.

The boy managed to return home and an ambulance was called, while another child found the bullet had passed through their hood, inches away from their head.

Dunford was known to the 12-year-old and he was able to identify him from his eyes, eyebrows and voice, picking him out at an identity parade.

Dunford, who was described by the CPS as a “highly dangerous individual”, wrote a rap while on remand in prison which included the lyric “a youth was hit by a stray”, which detectives said was a reference to the shooting.

The stolen white Ford Focus was found on fire in Sheffield after the shooting, and Dunford was arrested two days later and charged.

He claimed he had been having Sunday dinner at his grandparents’ home when the attack took place.

Julian Briggs from the CPS 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.”

Brandon Bailey, 26, of Sheffield, was also found guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life.

He was jailed for 10 years and six months.