A young life wrecked by naive help for gang man
THE court case of Shannki Steadman is a stark reminder of the dangers of naive young people becoming associated with Derby's contemptible gang members.
You do not have to parade around with the gangs or be involved in crime and intimidating behaviour to fall horribly on the wrong side of the law.
That is precisely what happened to Steadman. She was better off than many other 17-year-olds. She had a job as a care assistant and, therefore, a promising future.
That future could now be in ruins after she was found guilty of "possessing" a sawn-off shotgun and hiding it for a gang member.
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The weapon was found in the cellar of the home which she shared and had been put there the previous night by a member of the notorious Allenton-based A1 gang.
Steadman maintained to the jury that she had not known that a so-called friend, 21-year-old Luke Hewitt-Hall, had hidden it there.
The jury did not believe her after she conceded that Hewitt-Hall had asked if he could leave "something minor" at her house.
And she also had text messages from him asking if anyone would look in the basement.
The fact she told him she did not want anything that would bring the attention of the police only serves to confirm that she strongly suspected that something dodgy was involved.
In fact, it was considerably worse than dodgy – nobody has a sawn-off shotgun as an ornament.
For reasons beyond the comprehension of most of us, it seems gang membership still retains some glamour or attraction among Derby's teenagers and young adults.
Their numbers in the city were depleted in the wake of the horrific shooting dead of 15-year-old Kadeem Blackwood in 2008, as some members were made to appreciate the errors of their ways.
But the problem has never disappeared and will not do so if the gangs continue to recruit impressionable youngsters.
Girls such as Steadman may never class themselves as "members" of these terror groups.
But any support which they give them, as she tacitly did in this case, can only strengthen them.
Steadman and Hewitt-Hall now await sentencing by the court.
But other, far more sinister figures are still out there – and they have no qualms in exploiting otherwise innocent youngsters who have no idea what they are getting into by associating with them.