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Michaela Sargeant and Lewis Wickenden jailed for total of 13 years after Kevin McKinley shooting in Dartford
A LYING mother has been jailed for eight years for blasting father-of-three Kevin McKinley from Stone to death in a Dartford street.
Michaela Sargeant, 25, was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter yesterday afternoon following a two-week trial at Maidstone Crown Court.
Her partner, Lewis Wickenden, 26, who lived with Sargeant in Overy Street, was found guilty of assisting an offender by removing the 12-bore shotgun from the scene but cleared of possessing a weapon with intent to cause fear of violence.
This morning, Judge Jeremy Carey jailed Sargeant for eight years and Wickenden for five years - they will spend half of their sentences behind bars and half on licence.
Referring to the 999 call made by Sargeant minutes after she had shot Mr McKinley, Judge Carey said it was a "cool performance."
On sentencing her, he said: "You lied to the 999 operator which was, on the face of it, a cool performance, and pretended that you had no idea who was lying dying.
“You knew you had shot Kevin McKinley.
“You lied, lied again and lied thereafter, both to the police and later again in interview."
He added: "On the jury's verdict, the basis on which you committed the offence, namely unlawful manslaughter, was that you accidentally shot Kevin McKinley in your panic, but you did so at a time when holding the gun with the intention of causing him to fear you were using it upon him.
"Kevin McKinley lay in the road and must have been in agony for a mercifully short time as he lay dying."
Judge Carey said to Wickenden he was responsible for his partner reaching "a state of near hysteria” over accusations three unknown men had threatened him and his family.
He said: "You’re not as was suggested during the trial a ‘Del Boy’ - you are a low level criminal who is also a self confessed spineless character with a fear of violence and, in my judgement, with a distorted view of how to deal with threats."
Thirty-two-year-old Mr McKinley, of Louvain Road, Stone, went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to Darent Valley Hospital after being shot on February 12 this year.
Throughout the trial, jurors heard how Mr McKinley went to see Wickenden at around 7.45pm to “sort things out” and end rumours “he and others” had robbed him.
Mutual friend of Mr McKinley and Wickenden, Marley Booth, drove Mr McKinley and his five-year-old son ‘Kev Boy’ to Overy Street.
Judge Carey said: “He (Mr McKinley) believed that allegations were made against him and you (Wickenden) were the one making them. You refused to talk to him. I do not suggest he was not a man who was capable of using his fists.
“In the words of Marley Booth, (the driver) the worst was he going to do was to give you a slap.
“You grossly exaggerated what could happen and you left a weapon on the garden gate.”
L-R Kevin's dad Paul McKinley and family friends Pauline Ho and Karen Daniels
As sentence was passed gasps of disbelief could be heard from the McKinley family who had gathered in the court room.
Speaking outside the court, a family spokesman said of the length of sentence: “It’s disgraceful, there’s no justice served.
“I thought she (Sargeant) would get a lot more.”
The McKinley family say they are stunned by how calm Sargeant was during the 999 call moments after blasting Kevin to death.
“How do you speak to someone like that, like she’d just had a cup of tea.”
Pauline Ho, 57, a family friend, added: “He (Kevin) was a loving family man, he idolised his children.
"Everybody has been left devastated.”
During the trial Mr Booth told the court: “He took his boy there so Lewis would know he had not come down for a big drama.
“He wanted his son to see how men deal with things.
“Kev Boy said ‘he did not want to see trouble’, I told him ‘don’t worry there won’t be any trouble’.
“Then we heard a loud bang.
“I drove the car straight outside Lewis’s house and looked to the left and jumped out of the car.
“I knew it was Kev straight away.”
Sargeant admitted she shot Mr McKinley but claimed she did it to protect her family.
She said: “He (Mr McKinley) walked towards Lewis, like normal walking, and Lewis already had his hand out like to say hello. Kevin was about to do the same.
“Then Kevin's handshake turned into a fist and he struck Lewis on his head with a punch.
“I could just see Lewis's coat go over and they were just brawling basically."
The Ford dealership service advisor told the jury her boyfriend staggered back through the gate "with blood all over his face" followed immediately by Mr McKinley.
Sargeant continued: “Right next to me was the shotgun. I literally panicked and grabbed it and kind of like hit Kevin with it.
“As I went to hit him with it he kind of walked into it so I kind of shoved his head.
“At that point I was just scared and I told him to 'f*** off and leave us alone'.
“The next thing I know I heard a massive bang and my whole body just shook. There was one first and then another one straight after.
“Literally all over my body it just shook me from head to toe. I knew I had shot Kevin as he was screaming.”
Wickenden was seen to leave the scene of the shooting in a black car minutes after the gun was fired and he was later arrested in Temple Hill Square on the same evening.
During her police interview, Sargeant said Wickenden went outside to meet McKinley, who punched him in the head.
She also said that other knife and gun-wielding men came out of the bushes and began to assault her boyfriend.
But Sargeant later changed her story and admitted that Mr McKinley had come towards her and she had put the gun to his head and told him to leave her family alone.
As Mr McKinley walked away, Sargeant fired the weapon.
Sargeant denied murder and manslaughter while Wickenden partner denied assisting an offender by removing the 12-bore shotgun from the scene and possessing a weapon with intent to cause fear of violence.
The court heard how the gun was stolen from Richard Cordwell, a shotgun licence holder and a friend of the couple, while he was away on holiday.
'I welcome today's sentence'
Speaking after sentencing, senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Jon Clayden of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: "From the moment Sargeant called 999 to report that she heard gun shots outside, to this case coming to court, both she and Lewis Wickenden lied about the parts they played in the killing of Mr McKinley.
"Not only did Sargeant lie when she told the 999 operator that she heard two or three gun shots outside her property on that night, but she also later lied in interview, denying that she had picked up the gun.
"This story changed when Wickenden told officers that in fact it was Sargeant that fired the shots that killed Mr McKinley."
He added: "Both were swiftly arrested by Kent Police officers and despite the fact both Sargeant and Wickenden lied about the circumstances, the proof of what happened that night was clear enough for the jury to see.
"I welcome today’s sentence and hope it will go some way to allowing Mr McKinley’s family to start moving on with their lives."
'This incident shocked the whole of Dartford'
Dartford's MP Gareth Johnson has today welcomed the verdicts reached by jurors yesterday.
In a statement he said: "This incident shocked the whole of Dartford.
"Thankfully incidents of this nature are incredibly rare here and it is worth noting that the evidence presented during the case suggested that this was very much a disagreement between two parties.
"This was a tragic incident with terrible consequences for those involved rather than an incident which presents a wider risk to the community as a whole."
He added: "Dartford remains a safe place to live in with falling crime levels. We mustn't allow this incident to cloud our view of what Dartford is really like.
"It does however highlight the fact that we cannot allow ourselves to be complacent when it comes to gun crime.
"When firearms get in to the wrong hands then tragedy is rarely far behind.
"Kent Police have approached this investigation in a very professional and thorough manner and I pay tribute to their hard work in dealing with this difficult case."
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