Two men from London have been jailed following an incident in which a firearm was discharged outside a shop at a Grays retail park.
Detectives from our Serious Crime Directorate led the investigation which resulted in the convictions of Rio Devine-Brown and Forrest Bentick.
The pair were jailed, Forrest Bentick for an extended term of 19 years and six months and Rio Burton-Devine for three years and six months, when they appeared at Basildon Crown Court on Monday 21 August.
On Tuesday 13 September 2022, three men drove to the Lakeside Retail Park, in Grays, arriving just before 2pm. Two of the men went into a store to shop whilst one of the group waited in a car.
Shortly after, a Nissan Juke arrived, and Rio Burton-Devine and Forrest Bentick got out.
As the two victims exited the store to return to their car, their paths crossed with Devine-Brown and Bentick.
Moments later Rio Burton-Devine pulled out a firearm, wrapped in green fabric, pointed it towards the victims, before firing it.
Witnesses reported hearing loud bangs and seeing smoke emanating from the firearm.
Thankfully, both men, aged in their 20s, were not hurt and got back into their car and all three drove away.
A complex and detailed investigation was launched by our detectives in our Serious and Organised Crime Unit. As a result of that work, they were quickly able to identify people of significant interest.
Rio Burton-Devine was arrested three days later whilst Forrest Bentick was arrested on Sunday 9 October after the car in which he was passenger was pursued by officers in Waltham Abbey.
Bentick decamped from the Audi A1 after it collided with a member of the public’s car. A foot chase ensued by an armed officer who tackled Bentick to the ground.
As other officers arrived at the scene, they discovered Forrest Bentick was in possession of a firearm loaded with three rounds and a knife was concealed in his waistband.
Officers also arrested Chantel Fowler, who was driving the car at the time.
As the investigation continued, officers executed a warrant in Huntsman Drive, Ilford, on 10 October 2022 where Forrest Bentick and Chantel Fowler were believed to live.
Once there, officers found the Nissan Juke used during the Grays incident, on false registration plates. The key to this car was in Bentick’s possession when he was arrested.
Upon searching the Ilford property, officers discovered cocaine, MDMA and about 4kg of cannabis. Officers went on to find £15,000 cash in a wardrobe, multiple phones and an air-powered weapon.
Adam Yildaz who was present during the warrant was arrested.
All four were charged by officers from the Serious and Organised Crime Unit.
All four were charged by officers from the Serious and OrganAdaised Crime Unit.
At an earlier hearing, two of the four, admitted their parts.
Rio Burton-Devine, 24, of no fixed abode, admitted possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence whilst Adam Yildaz, 26 of Huntsman Road, Ilford, admitted two counts of possessing a Class A drug with intent to supply, possessing a Class B drug with intent to supply and acquiring, using or possessing criminal property.
However, Forrest Bentick, 24, of no fixed abode had denied possessing an imitation firearm, with intent to cause fear of violence, possessing a prohibited firearm, possessing ammunition without a firearm certificate, possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply, possession of a Class B drug with intent to supply and acquiring, using or possessing criminal property.
He did, however, admit having a bladed article.
Chantel Fowler, 25 of Aldriche Way, Waltham Forest, London, had denied dangerous driving and acquiring, using or possessing criminal property.
Following a three-week trial at Basildon Crown Court, a jury found Forrest Bentick and Chantel Fowler guilty of all charges against them (Wednesday 5 July).
Alongside Bentick and Burton-Devine, Yildaz was sentenced to 50 months’ imprisonment.
Chantel Fowler was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.
Detective Inspector Yoni Adler, who led our investigation, said:
“To call Rio Burton-Devine and Forrest Bentick’s actions anything other than dangerous and reckless would be an understatement.
“The incident at the retail park shows how the pair were willing to put the public’s safety at risk as Devine-Brown fired the weapon at the victims in a very public place.
“And when Bentick was arrested, he jeopardised everyone’s safety, including his own, and showed the lengths he was willing to go to, to evade capture.
“This level of criminality cannot be ignored – we cannot and will not allow people to wander our streets with lethal weapons.
“Our investigation quickly identified the key players, showing our determination to bring those to justice.
“I’d like to thank my team for their unwavering dedication and professionalism throughout the investigation.
“Bentick and Fowler denied much of their actions throughout the trial, but the jury saw through their accounts and found them guilty.
“I have absolutely no doubt our county is a safer place for their convictions.”