Alleged South Norwood drive-by shooting getaway driver Keble Thompson : 'I could not have done it, I am blind'

Croydon Guardian: Keble Thompson leaves Croydon Crown Court on Friday Keble Thompson leaves Croydon Crown Court on Friday

The alleged getaway driver in a drive-by shooting has claimed he could not have been involved - because he is blind.

Dad-of-nine Keble Thompson is accused of being at the wheel when a trio of gunmen fired at a South Norwood barber shop with a sawn-off shotgun in a botched revenge attack.

Croydon Crown Court heard the 38-year-old, then of Layard Road in Thornton Heath, had been stabbed at a party at a different hairdresser's two weeks before the drive-by shooting on January 2, 2012.

Prosecutors allege Mr Thompson and accomplices Leonard Yearde, 23, and Renaldo Mcintosh, 30, targeted the wrong shop in retribution.

The shooting smashed the window of Matthew's Unisex Barber in Portland Road, with shards of glass injuring a bystander.

Mr Thompson, who has since moved to Streatham, is said to have driven a friend's car past the shop while either Mr Yearde, of Zion Road, Thornton Heath or Mr Mcintosh, of Heathfield Gardens, South Croydon, fired the gun.

The jury heard the car then crashed into a parked vehicle in Stanley Road, less than 500 metres from the shooting, forcing the trio to flee on foot.

Mr Thompson - who entered court carrying a white stick - was later identified as the driver by Dwayne Matthews, the barber shop's owner, but claims it would have been impossible for him to drive the car because he suddenly turned blind overnight in 2008.

Tests conducted by an ophthalmologist for the defence appeared to confirm some level of visual impairment.

Croydon Guardian:

Renaldo Mcintosh

But prosecutor Robert Ellison told the jury Mr Thompson's evidence was "riddled with inconsistencies and uncertainties" and that he had reported nothing more than minor eyesight problems to his doctor, in 2003, and refused to be examined by an ophthalmologist for the prosecution.

Mr Ellison said: "I would have thought the sudden catastrophic loss of eyesight would be a very memorable very memorable event for anyone. But Keble Thompson claims to remember very little."

He added: "No person who was genuinely virtually blind would be frightened [of being examined.] The only thing he would be frightened of was the truth coming out.

"Any patient can exaggerate. Whatever Mr Thompson's problem is and whether he has one at all, you may feel he is just faking it."

Mr Thompson shouted "you're a liar" from the dock as Mr Ellison addressed the jury.

Croydon Guardian:

Keble Thompson, right, left court guided by a friend and carrying a white stick

All three defendants deny a charge of possessing of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Only one gun was fired, but Mr Ellison said all three planned the shooting jointly, with Mr Yearde and Mr Mcintosh linked to the shooting by phone records and fingerprint evidence.

None of the defendants were willing to be cross-examined in court.

The jury are due to retire to consider their verdict this week.

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