South London drill rapper known to millions of fans as Loski has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment days after he was found guilty of possessing a loaded revolver.
The sentence at Croydon Crown Court comes nearly one year after a jury was discharged for failing to reach a verdict in the case and over two and half years after he was first accused of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life and related charges.
Jyrelle O’Connor, 23, performs as Loski and has millions of views on YouTube and other social platforms. But the court was told of his link to Kennington-based criminal gang the Harlem Spartans and their violent turf wars with other gangs in south London.
After the sentence was passed CPS Prosecutor Laura Hoon said: “Criminal gangs such as the Harlem Spartans are using drill music and social media to promote gang culture, glamorise the gang lifestyle and the use of weapons.
“Thanks to the police and prosecution team, we now have a dangerous individual and criminal gang member in prison, and a loaded firearm and ammunition off our streets.
“This strong sentence from the judge shows that crime doesn’t pay, no matter how well known or influential the individual may be.”
He was charged with various offences related to possession of a firearm but denied the charges against him claiming he was forced to hold on to the gun after a drug dealer made threats against his and his mother’s lives.
O’Connor’s numerous accolades includes his November 2020 album, Music, Trial and Trauma: a Drill Story, featuring guest appearances from Stormzy, Akala, Davido, the Streets’ Mike Skinner and Emeli Sandé. He signed to Sony in March 2018. The Canadian rapper Drake said O’Connor inspired his album Scorpion.
He was arrested and was charged the following day with possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life, possessing a firearm when prohibited for five years, possessing ammunition for a firearm when prohibited for five years, possessing a firearm and possessing cannabis.
Forensic analysis of the firearm confirmed it to be a 4mm Flobert Calibre Revolver with loaded live ammunition. Police said his DNA was found on the loading face of the cylinder. This is a covered part of the firearm that is not accessible without opening up the gun to see the ammunition.
The court heard that he was originally stopped that day as officers wanted to question him in relation to the events that led to his friend Latwaan Griffiths’ death in Camberwell in July 2018. Investigating officers believe that Latwaan from Southwark was fatally stabbed following an attempted shooting on a rival gang.
Over four years have passed since the fatal stabbing of popular teenage drill rapper Latwaan. The 18-year-old was found collapsed with multiple stab wounds to his chest in Denmark Road, Camberwell on the evening of July 27, 2018. Members of the public rushed to give him first aid before he was taken to hospital, but Latwaan died of his injuries in the early hours of the following morning.
Known by his nickname ‘Latz’ and stage name ‘Splash Addict’, Latwaan was said to have been a member of the Harlem Spartans drill rapping group, well known within the Kennington area. The group, affiliated with the Moscow17 gang, is said to have been “at war” with rival gangs in the Brixton area. Exactly how, where and when the teenager was stabbed remains a mystery to detectives.
Following the conclusion of O’Connor’s five-week trial, where the jury found him guilty of possessing a prohibited firearm, possessing a firearm when prohibited for five years and possessing ammunition for a firearm when prohibited for five years, Detective Constable Snazell said: “This has been a trying and challenging case with many twists and turns, but I’m pleased the jury found O’Connor guilty of his crimes and I’d like to thank them for seeing through his lies and excuses.
“I have no doubt that O’Connor, or his gang associates, would have used this revolver in the future and by finding and destroying it we have taken a lethal weapon off the streets and potentially saved a life.
“As part of the trial the jury heard how fascinated O’Connor was by guns and gang lifestyle and on his phone he had been running numerous Google searches for firearms and ammunition in the months prior to his arrest.
“O’Connor was an influential individual and had many followers on social media. No amount of fortune or fame justifies his serious criminal actions.”