Teen's shooting death was case of 'mistaken identity', inquest hears

David Adegbite, 18, died from a gunshot wound to the head.

David Adegbite, 18, was described in court by his family as "a gentle boy who loved to help and support people". - Credit: Met Police

A Dagenham teenager who was fatally shot in 2017 was "in the wrong place at the wrong time", an inquest has heard.

David Adegbite, 18, died on March 19 after being wounded in St Ann's Square, Barking.

Acting senior coroner Graeme Irvine ruled that his death was an unlawful killing.

The inquest, held at Adult College of Barking and Dagenham on August 31, heard police have not brought charges against anyone regarding David's killing.

In his conclusions, Mr Irvine said: "The Metropolitan Police view is that David was not the intended victim of this shooting.

"It is believed this was a case of mistaken identity and that David was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time."

The court was told keen sportsman David, a student at NewVIc College in Plaistow, was planning to study computer science at university. 

A statement from his family was read out which said: "He was a gentle boy who loved to help and support people."

The court was told officers were first made aware of the incident at about 7.09pm on March 19, 2017, when an anonymous male called police to say his friend had been shot in St Ann's Square.

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Det Insp Holly Simon gave evidence and confirmed that a witness, referred to as Ms A, gave CPR to David at the scene.

Ms A provided a "limited account" to officers and the court was told that at the scene, she reported hearing the street addresses of three males

These were referred to in court as Mr B, Mr C and Mr D.

A forensic team found a bullet and bullet casing at the scene, the inquest heard, while a knife was also discovered in an alleyway at St Ann's Square.

The court was told that CCTV footage indicated two men or boys in dark clothing running from the scene around the time of the shooting.

Officers carried out door-to-door enquiries, Det Insp Simon confirmed.

She told the court that nobody reported witnessing the incident but many referred to hearing a bang and seeing David on the ground.

The anonymous caller, called Mr F in court, was identified by police and spoken to, the inquest heard.

He indicated he knew David and went to his aid after the shooting, the hearing was told, having been with Ms A immediately beforehand.

The court heard that Mr F said he received a call from Mr D.

Mr Irvine said: "He (Mr F) said whilst having that conversation he saw a male cycle into the vicinity of St Ann's and heard a gunshot. Is that correct?"

"Yes sir that's correct", Det Insp Simon confirmed.

She told the inquest that Mr C was stopped by police on the same evening and was found with injuries.

The court heard that during a stop and search, he claimed to have "accidentally butted heads with somebody and tripped".

Mr C was later arrested but made no comment during interview, the court was told.

It heard that forensic tests of his clothing found no evidence to connect him to the shooting.

An alibi was provided by Mr B, supported by CCTV, Det Insp Simon said.

She confirmed that "significant" media engagement to appeal for information "came to nought".

The court was told Ms A said she heard the street names but "did not know who those persons were".

Mr Irvine said: "Having reviewed the evidence, a hypothesis has been arrived at by the Metropolitan Police that this is a tragic case of mistaken identity. Is that right?"

"Yes, that's correct", Det Insp Simon replied.

"It is believed the shooter had wrongly believed David was somebody else he had a problem with," Mr Irvine added.

"Yes", the officer confirmed.

A forensic post-mortem gave the cause of death as gunshot wound to the head.

Mr Irvine said: "It is very strongly believed that the only way the Metropolitan Police could mount a prosecution for David's death would be if there was an admission made by somebody."

The coroner gave his condolences to David's family.

He told them: "In circumstances such as this, which are wholly tragic, in which it seems to me David was in the wrong place at the wrong time, where the family have had to wait such a long time for any kind of legal conclusion, it seems to me it's all the more important that I offer my condolences."