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Did moped assassins kill the wrong target? Murder squad probes ‘mistaken identity’ theory

Exclusive: Detective says he does not know if killers meant to shoot shoe shop worker Wilson Varela - or somebody else

13 September, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

MURDER detectives are investigating the possibility that a fatal drive-by shooting in Kentish Town could be a case of ‘mistaken identity’.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Stancombe, who is leading the investigation, said police currently do not know why 24-year-old Wilson Varela was gunned down on Sunday night.

A moped rider and a pillion passenger, both wearing helmets, drove north on Malden Road before waiting in Marsden Street for a short time. It then drove back down Malden Road and into Prince of Wales Road, where they shot Mr Varela at close range. The shoe shop worker died from a gunshot wound to the chest.

DCI Stancombe told the New Journal today (Friday): “I don’t know what this is about. What is this about? The obvious question that arises is, ‘is this a case of mistaken identity?’ And I don’t know at the moment. That’s certainly a key line of enquiry to understand that.”

He added: “We’ve got lots of work going on in the background now to develop intelligence… and understand, what led to Wilson being killed?”

DCI Stancombe said police believe a shotgun was used to shoot Mr Varela, who from east London but worked in Camden Town, just before midnight.

Forensics searching Malden Road on Monday

No weapon has yet been recovered, however, and it is not clear where the moped, which traveled towards Camden Town, ended up.

It was seen driving “erratically at speed” on pavements and cutting up traffic, he added.

Extra staff have been drafted in to the murder squad to trawl through local CCTV but DCI Stancombe said they need the community’s help to solve the investigation. In particular, they are hoping passing drivers may have dash cam footage or remember seeing the moped.

“This is a really, really difficult one,” he said. “And this is where we really need the support of the community if they are hearing anything, rumours, gossip, whatever it is. Have they seen a moped parked up somewhere and it’s shouldn’t been there?”

He added: “I think the key point there is letting me and my team figure out whether something is relevant or not. I think some people might think ‘well actually that won’t be important” but it might be. Clearly with what is going on at the moment, certainly in Camden, I understand completely how people might be concerned for their safety if they talk to the police, I get that entirely. They will be dealt with sensitively and we won’t come knocking on doors with uniforms on or anything like that, we can deal with that and ensure their safety.”

This murder investigation was the second out of three to be launched within five days in the borough. Seven homicide inquiries have been launched in Camden this year so far and more than 100 have been opened across London.

DCI Stancombe said: “We are busy, but we are absolutely determined to put every effort into every one of [the investigations] and that’s really difficult to do but we will do everything that we can to bring these people to justice.”

A spokesperson for Wilson’s family said in memory of him: “You will remain a legend for us all, your spirit will always and forever guide us like you used to. Thank you for being an inspiration to so many. We will love you forever. Always in our thoughts forever in our hearts. The race never stops.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 020 8358 0200 or independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. You can also visit to pass on information anonymously.

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