Violent gang leader housed in Newport apologises for being "dumped" on city
THE man described in the High Court as a "serious threat to the public" yesterday wrote to Newport West MP Paul Flynn to apologise for being "dumped" on the city.
And in an exclusive interview with the Argus, Joland Giwa denied being a violent gang leader - and claimed he “means no harm” to the city of Newport.
On Saturday the Argus revealed Mr Giwa, understood to be the leader of the Don’t Say Nothing gang in Croydon, had been relocated to York Place, Newport, after the Home Office failed to deport him. The news prompted Mr Flynn to write to the Home Secretary demanding answers on how local politicians had not been consulted on the move, and there was an outcry from local councillors who said they, too, had not been consulted.
In the letter to Mr Flynn, he wrote: "I really am sorry that you're outraged and angered by the decision....I am a changed man Sir. I know you won't believe me but I really am ashamed of my past and previous actions."
Speaking to the Argus yesterday, Mr Giwa said he had no say in where he was relocated.
Mr Giwa told the Argus: “I moved to Newport as a fresh start. I left the life I had behind. That past was six or seven years ago. I’m a man now. I’m 24 I’ve got two kids and a family in this country. I’m trying to make a change and be a different person.”
Mr Giwa is unable to see his children and 2007 was the last time he saw them.
Prior to his bail in December of last year, Mr Giwa had been in immigration detention for more than four years after completing a 27-month prison term for two robbery convictions. Sergeant Darin Birmingham who led a Metropolitan Police gangs unit called him a “serious threat to the public and other young people.”
Mr Giwa said: “I was 17 when I was convicted and those were the last crimes I was involved in.
“I never think I’m perfect but I think the way I’ve been targeted is worse than a terrorist. I have never killed anyone. I’m not a violent person. Nobody is scared of me. I’m not a harm to the public.”
Mr Giwa said he came to this country aged eight or nine with his twin brother due to ongoing wars in Sierra Leone. A lack of identity documents has made it difficult for the Home Office to deport him and Sierra Leone refuses to recognise him as a national.
“I don’t know my birth parents. These are the issues me and my brother have had to grow up with. It’s always been a hard life for us,” he said.
During their childhood the brothers moved around different foster homes in London.
“I’ve not got any family apart from the family I’ve got in this country.
“My foster parents have been my biggest support. I speak to them on the phone every day.”
Mr Giwa was 15 when he got involved with the DSN gang. He said: “It was more of a group of friends that would play football together and stuff.”
Asked about his crimes, he said: “It’s something I regret. When you are young you don’t know the consequences in life. You have to make mistakes and learn from them.”
Commenting on the Youtube video which was used against him in court and shows him proclaiming to be the gang general, he said: “It was about making music. We did think we were gangsters because that’s what you think with American hip hop.”
Mr Giwa denied being the gang’s leader and said: “No, not at all. They said that. I’ve not been involved since I’ve been in prison. I think I was just the easiest target.
“Since (being) in Newport I’ve not had any contact with any gangs.”
Mr Giwa said he had not chosen to live in Newport: “I hope people can give me a chance and get to know me.
“I’m a person that doesn’t hide my past because it’s only fair people know who you are.”
Mr Giwa’s case to stay in the UK is ongoing. He said: “I am trying my hardest to fight it. I’ve got nowhere to live if I go back to whatever country. The only language I can speak is English.”
Mr Giwa was unsure how long he would be living in Newport but said he would be happy to stay.
“This is a great area. It’s only fair I treat this place with respect and give back to Newport. I want a chance to show I’m not a gang member and don’t mean to be any harm to this area."
Speaking to the Argus yesterday, Mr Flynn said: “I believe the court would have heard all off the evidence. We must rely on the judgement of the court that this man is a danger.”
And in a reply to Mr Giwa, he said: "My prime duty is to my constituents who are understandably angry at the decision to re-locate you here."
A Gwent Police spokeswoman said: "Keeping the public of Gwent safe is our number one priority at all times and we do this by supporting and working in partnership with a number of other statutory and voluntary organisations.
"No society is risk-free and we cannot eliminate risk completely, but in the UK we have one of the most advanced systems for monitoring and managing dangerous offenders.”
Leader of Newport City Council, Bob Bright said: “Newport City Council was not consulted by the Home Office about where this individual should be placed.
“The property is not owned or controlled by the local authority, and we have made our concerns very clear about the suitability of this location.
“We will remain vigilant to the progress of this case, and liaise closely with police and key city agencies on its management.”
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