A man has been sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to several offences in relation to a gun being fired outside a nightclub in Watford.
Elliott Simon, aged 28, of Ruth Close, Stanmore, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and possession of a class A drug (cocaine).
His second charge of attempted Section 18 GBH will lie on file*. He was sentenced at St Albans Crown Court on Friday 24 July.
His associate Raymond Celestine, aged 25, also of Ruth Close, Stanmore, also appeared in court for sentencing after pleading guilty to affray in relation to the incident.
He received an 18-month community order, was ordered to complete 120 hours of unpaid work and a rehabilitation requirement.
St Albans Crown Court heard that in the early hours of Saturday 8 December 2018, the three victims – all men – left Pryzm nightclub on The Parade before getting into their car parked nearby.
As they were leaving, one of the victim’s phones slid out of his pocket and down the side of his seat. His friend stopped the car – a Vauxhall Corsa – and put his hazard lights on.
A Chevrolet Aveo containing Simon, Celestine and other associates arrived behind the stationary Corsa and the occupants became angry at the obstruction.
Celestine jumped out of the car and began shouting at the victims, threatening to rob them.
Simon also got out of the car and at first tried to calm Celestine down, before pulling out a handgun and firing four shots. Two of these shots were aimed at the ground near to the victim’s feet.
Two of the three victims ran from the area, fearing for their safety, while their friend – the driver – started to pull away in the Corsa.
The two further shots were then fired into the side of the Corsa as the driver fled. One round became lodged in the rear passenger door and the other entered the driver’s seat.
The victim drove around the corner but returned to the scene shortly after to speak to police officers, who had been called by another public witness.
Simon and Celestine left the scene but were both later arrested; Simon at his home address on Tuesday 11 December 2018 and Celestine on Monday 17 December 2018, after he handed himself in at Hatfield police station.
Detective Constable Lewis Mortimer, who led the investigation, said: “This was a terrifying incident for all three victims, who were just innocently making their way home after a night out clubbing when they got caught up in an altercation with the defendants.
“A minor road rage incident escalated and the defendants’ reactions were completely disproportionate.
“Forensic teams assessed the Vauxhall Corsa and found a bullet lodged in the driver’s seat and the door panel, just centimetres away from where the victim was sitting. It is a miracle that the driver was not struck, and that we aren’t looking at a murder conviction.
“Detectives worked tirelessly in the hours and days that followed this incident in order to identify those responsible and in the months that followed. I am pleased with the sentences that have been handed down today. I hope Simon understands the gravity of the offence and that his sentence serves as a warning to those who think it is a good idea to carry a gun. We will not tolerate firearms on our streets in Watford.”
*When a charge ‘lies on file’ it means that a judge has agreed that while there is sufficient evidence, a conviction would not increase the sentence imposed. However, the charge(s) could then be re-heard at a later date should the defendant commit any further offences.