A plan to kill a drug dealer by pointing a shotgun through his letterbox and blasting him to death ended with the wrong man being shot.

The gang's intended victim, Ahmed Oke, was out of his flat at the time and another man was staying there.

As Shaun Smith walked towards the front door in the hallway, having heard the doorbell ringing, he was shot in the leg from close range.

Four men were today convicted of conspiring to murder Mr Oke at his flat in South Oxhey, Watford, last December.

See also: Gunman who fired shotgun through South Oxhey letterbox hit wrong man

Prosecutor David Aaronberg QC said the shooting took place at 10.35pm at night on December 1 last year after the doorbell had been rung.

He said: "The sawn-off shotgun was fired through the letterbox of the front door as the occupant approached.

"Ahmed Oke was the target, but he was not there. Shaun Smith was staying there and received the impact of shot. Fortunately the premises had a reinforced letterbox that absorbed much of impact of the shot.

"Mr Smith suffered a very nasty wound to his leg. Had it not been for the reinforced letterbox and the fact that he was standing to the left of the door, he would have been injured extremely seriously or possibly fatally."

The jury was told that Mr Oke lived in a top-floor flat in Lalsham House on Ainsdale Road, South Oxhey.

Mr Aaronberg added: "He was concerned in a number of matters that may have led to him being the target for a revenge attack."

Oke was described in court as a drug supplier with an unsavoury reputation.

In January of 2016 a car went up in flames outside his home and the fire brigade was asked to put a fire-proof letter box in his flat.

Six weeks before the shooting, on October 18, a gun was discharged in the street outside his home. The police found a shotgun shell in the street along with a crossbow bolt. When they searched Mr Oke's flat, a crossbow was found.

Mr Aaronberg told the jury of seven men and five women that there had been agreement to kill Mr Oke.

He added: "The shooting came in the aftermath of communication between them that day. There were lots of telephone calls and lots of texts exchanged."

Five men denied conspiracy to murder during an 11-week trial.

After deliberating for 65 hours and 51 minutes the jury at St Albans crown court found Anthony McLaughlin, 27, of Baldwins Lane, Watford; Christopher Kerr, 32, of Leslie House, Wyril Road, Lambeth; Leon Usher, 39, of Bedford Road, Barton-Le-Clay, unanimously guilty. Wayne Holness, 23, of no fixed address, was convicted by a majority of 10 to 2.

Michael Smith, 25, of John Street, South Norwood, was cleared of conspiracy to murder, and an alternative of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm. He was also found not guilty of possessing a firearm.

Wayne Holness was convicted unanimously of possessing a Class B drug with intent to supply.

The gun used was said to have been stored in a Ford Fiesta belonging to Kalister Smith, a former girlfriend of Holness near her home in South Norwood.

The prosecutor said: "Mr Holness told the police that he did have a gun in the car and drugs in the car. He said he had been forced by three men involved in drugs and guns to act as a minder. He stored them in his ex-girlfriend's car."

At 8.45pm on the night of the shooting, December 1, Kerr, Holness, Smith and Usher were all in the Stockwell area of London.

Shortly before 9pm Kerr went in a minicab to Watford. Holness followed in a car.

While Kerr and Holness went to near McLoughlin's home in Baldwin's Lane. They went on to Ainsdale Road while McLaughlin stayed at his home and Usher remained in London.

But even though McLaughlin and Usher were not at the scene of the shooting, Mr Aaronberg said they were part of the shooting conspiracy, being linked through telephone evidence.

"At half past ten one of the men obtained access to Lalsham House, knocked on the door and fired. The prosecution say the most likely candidate is Mr Holness, but we can't say precisely," he said.

Judge Andrew Bright QC remanded the four men in custody and said they will be sentenced on December 7.