real deaths #71665


21 year old Roscoe McKenzie and his brother, 25 year old Darius, had finished a shift at Neasden Iceland on the 17th of December 2007. Darius worked full-time at the store while his brother worked there part-time whilst he completed a surveying qualification. Both men had been working extra hours on the nightshift in the run up to Christmas. They finished work at 11:50pm. CCTV showed them cycling down Church Road in Harlesden between 11:52pm and 12:01am, heading towards the Tesco store in nearby Harlesden. The brothers lived with their mother, Pauline Foster, Darius’ partner Susan De Villas, and Darius and Susan’s young daughter Alana in Wembley, but Pauline had texted Roscoe, asking the brothers to bring home some chocolates – they were to be a gift for a sick friend she would be visiting the next day. Roscoe received the text message at 8:02pm; the tills at the Iceland store closed at 8pm but, anyway, it is likely he didn’t see the text until he had a cigarette at around 9:20pm. He texted Pauline at 9:23pm and assured her that he and Darius would pick up the chocolates after work. His mother replied “Be careful on the road, put your lights on! Love mum”.

Tesco store CCTV showed the brothers arriving at at 12:09am. They only had one lock so Darius went inside for the chocolates while Roscoe held both of their bikes. Darius usually drove them both to work but the brothers had decided to cycle that day for exercise; earlier that afternoon Darius had suggested “Let’s cycle, like old times.” Roscoe was waiting by the main trolley bay outside the front door. Melanie Szigrnasz and Pawel Damatar, two Tesco employees, were smoking cigarettes inside the trolley bay, crouched down behind the trolleys. Tesco employees were required to hunch down out of sight for cigarette breaks. Darius bought the chocolates and joined a separate queue for the tobacco counter to buy rolling papers. Marnie Duddeson, 17, had walked into the shop ahead of Darius. Visibly drunk, she had been on a night out with friends in Hendon but had argued with them just before 10pm and had walked off. Mobile phone records showed that she had taken nearly an hour-and-a-half to walk from Hendon to Harlesden, a distance of some four and a half miles. At 11:17pm, 11:32pm and again at 11:58pm she had phoned her ex-boyfriend, Rico Robinson, 22. Robinson, an unemployed man with several convictions, had tried to get Marnie to tell her exactly where she was but it wasn’t until the 11:58pm phonecall that she told him to meet her at the Tesco store. Driving from a friend’s house in Willesden, he pulled up opposite the Tesco at 12:1oam. Marnie exited the Tesco store at 12:12am without buying anything and walked past Roscoe. The Tesco security guard, Harding McStanley, followed her around the store after noting she was intoxicated. McStanley watched from the entrance as Duddeson exited, past the waiting Roscoe. At 12:14am she turned back in the direction of Tavistock Street and asked Roscoe if he had seen her friends; her question was overheard by McStanley and Damatar. Szigrnasz would later testify that she hadn’t heard any conversation between the two and had not been able to see Duddeson as her view was obscured by some trolleys. Roscoe answered Duddeson with one word: “No”.

As he walked towards the store, Robinson saw the two exchange words and wrongly concluded that Roscoe was a new boyfriend of Duddenson’s. The pair had split acrimoniously three months previously but had continued to stay in contact and had maintained a sporadic sexual relationship. Robinson immediately turned back to his car and retrieved a gun, a Bruni blank-firing pistol modified to fire live ammunition, from the boot. He met Duddeson on the north side of the pavement and took her by the arm, bringing her to his car where he put her into the front passenger seat. He then turned back to the Tesco store, walked up to Roscoe, who was facing sideways on to him, and shot him twice, once in the head and once in his right shoulder. It was 12:17am. Roscoe was killed instantaneously. Duddeson would later testify in court that she was so drunk she hadn’t even heard the gunshot.

The pair drove in Robinson’s black Suzuki Swift car to his house in Dollis Hill. After helping Duddeson out of the car and into his flat, where she passed out on his bed, he called a friend, Steven Hartley, at 12:37pm. “I just killed a man,” Robinson said. “I just shot this man.” Hartley advised him to turn himself in but promised to keep the phonecall a secret.

Darius had run out of the shop upon hearing the shots alongside several other customers and the store security guard, McStanley. He held his brother’s body while McStanley ran after Robinson’s departing car and tried to catch sight of the numberplate. In court Darius would remember asking his brother to wake up. “He’s my little brother, I shouldn’t have let him get taken away like this,” Darius said to Damatar. McStanley managed to see part of the numberplate as Robinson’s car pulled away and was able to give a partial reading, along with a deatiled description of the car’s make, model and colour, to police. An armed police unit arrived at 12:28am, four minutes after the first of several emergency calls were made by bystanders at the scene. An ambulance followed at 12:33am.

Robinson was apprehended the following afternoon, after police units had visited his mother’s house (where his car was registered) and his home. Although there were three black Suzuki Swifts in the North-West London area with possible matches to the partial numberplate given to police by Harding McStanley, investigators made Robinson a top priority after becoming aware of his criminal record, which included several violent assaults.

Robinson was convicted of murder of in May of 2008 and was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a recommendation that he serve at least thirty years. Justice Laura Dalling commented that the case was a “tragic and senseless waste of a life, fuelled by casual use of and access to firearms”. Robinson apologised in court to the McKenzie family, saying “if I could put myself in Roscoe’s place, I would”. Pauline Foster made a statement after the verdict was handed down, expressing satisfaction with the length of the sentence but underlining how her life had changed: “We aren’t a full family anymore. Every meal, every birthday, every special day, there is a space where Roscoe should be. It’s good that this man is off the streets but he will be out at some time. We are the ones who have been given a life sentence, for no reason at all.” Duddeson was initially charged with perverting the course of justice when she claimed to have no memory of the incident but police decided to drop the charge after statements from Robinson and the examination of mobile phone records – crucially including the length of time it had taken her to walk from Hendon to Harlesden – backed up her story that she had been highly intoxicated.

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