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X Factor wannabe is an ex-con

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    Posted: 27 Aug 2011 at 09:54

X Factor wannabe is an ex-con

Singer Derry Mensah
did time for robbery


Published: Today

AN X Factor singer who wows judges on tonight's show served time in jail after being accused of armed robbery.

Derry Mensah admitted stealing from a lad but insisted he had no weapon. He said competing in X Factor is helping him to move away from gang life in London.

Derry grew up around guns and gang culture – and was jailed for robbing a teenager on a train.

But the 20-year-old singer – who will be seen on tonight's show wowing the girl of his dreams, judge Kelly Rowland – insists he has turned his back on street crime.

He said: "I'm sorry for what I did and I want to make amends through my singing. X Factor is a way out for me – a second chance to change my life for the better."

In an exclusive interview with The Sun, Derry also told the full story of the thuggish MUGGING that landed him in prison.

And he revealed several of his pals – including cherished chums Frederick Moody, 18, and Seyi Ogunyemi, 16 – had been KILLED in turf wars between gangs in Stockwell, South London.

Derry, who exchanges a kiss with Kelly after singing Usher's Can You Help Me in an X Factor live audition, insisted he did not want to hide his past.

He was arrested after robbing a lad of his phone and watch on a train near London's Clapham Junction station. The victim told police he had been attacked at gunpoint.

Derry said: "That made it much more serious. It was armed robbery. I don't know where the guy got the idea to say that.

"The police searched me and my house for a weapon but didn't find anything. I've never had a gun."

The charge was dropped to robbery, which Derry admitted. He could have got four years inside. But he was given 18 months after impressing a judge by taking up courses while in custody on remand.

Derry said: "He knew I was trying to sort myself out."

He was freed for good behaviour after serving half his sentence – and set out on a path to find fame.

Derry, who works in a Burger King, said: "Prison was actually the making of me. I met people on the verge of going down for murder and things like that.

"They heard me sing and talk about things I've done musically – and told me to make sure I pursue that as a career rather than come back into prison.

"Hearing that from people who are going to be there for the rest of their lives made me think I need to fix up. Because if I don't I'll probably end up just like them."

Gang victim ... Seyi Ogunyemi, left, and stabbed pal Frederick Moody

Derry, who took a sports science course at college after his release, looked glum as he told of the gang wars that blighted his teenage years.

His pal Frederick was stabbed to death in 2008. And Seyi died after two vicious dogs were set on him before he was stabbed six times in 2009. Derry said: "I've seen knives and people waving guns. It's terrifying. You can get caught up in it before you know and your life's wiped out.

"Before Frederick was killed everyone in Stockwell was as one. After that it split into two gangs. The area has just gone really bad."

Derry, who has moved away to Croydon, South London, said he knew "a lot" of the louts who rioted in the capital earlier this month.

But he added: "I can't get involved. I just have to stay away and concentrate on my music."

Derry did that on X Factor – and was rewarded with a great response from Kelly and the other judges.

He said: "Going from everything going wrong to this amazing talent show is like a dream."

Derry added: "I really like Kelly. She is hot. She asked me for a kiss. So I went up and gave her one."


Gissa kiss!

THIS is part of the flirty exchange between Derry and Kelly that viewers will see tonight:

Smooch ... Kelly Rowland
DERRY: Kelly Rowland, straight up, I love you.

KELLY: Thank you. You're so cute though.

DERRY: She said I'm cute!

KELLY: Derry, this was a really good audition.

DERRY: Seriously?

KELLY: Yes. Come on, we are serious right now.

DERRY: I love you.

KELLY: I really like your voice but I would like to see you in a group. Can I get a kiss on my cheek?

  • CHERYL Cole's choreographer will glam up the X Factor. Elizabeth Honan replaces Brian Friedman who has been shipped out to the US X Factor. Elizabeth is best friends with Cheryl and choreographed the Fight For This Love routine in 2009.

    The Sun

    Edited by Bren - 27 Aug 2011 at 09:54
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