Coroner pleads for information on boy's killer

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The Independent Online
A CORONER made an emotional appeal yesterday to those shielding the killer of a 14-year-old boy in a take-away food shop to come forward.

Recording an inquest verdict of unlawful killing on John 'Benji' Stanley, blasted to death by a masked man with a shotgun, Leonard Gorodkin, the Manchester coroner, said: 'There are people who know and it is just horrific they can stay quiet and allow this to happen to an innocent young man.'

Benji, of Moss Side, Manchester, was shot twice as he queued in the shop near his home in January this year.

But after hearing police evidence that the dead boy was not connected with drugs or gang warfare, Mr Gorodkin said he wanted to reach somebody's 'inner conscience' and get them to come forward.

'With this young man his only fault was that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

'He was a young man going about his normal life, getting some food with a friend and he was brutally murdered. I hope the publicity engendered by this inquest will prompt somebody to appreciate how horrific this was.'

Detective Superintendent Terry Smith, heading the investigation, said police had been frustrated by getting only partial information from members of the public.

'My plea is that somebody in Manchester knows now and knew at the time exactly what occurred,' he said. 'That person must reach into their conscience and provide the key to what happened that night.'

He was asked about speculation that Benji had been involved in crime or drugs.

Mr Smith replied: 'There is nothing after almost 12 months to indicate that this young boy was anything other than what his mother says he was. He would run errands for anyone and would babysit for them.

'There is nothing to suggest he was involved in any shape or form with drugs.'

David White, 15, said he saw a masked man get out of a silver grey Rover outside Alvino's take-away in Great Western Street and fire a shot into the shop next door.

He said the man had shaken the shotgun he was holding and shouted: 'It's not working.' Then he walked up to the take-away and shot through the door. The witness said he went up to the shop and saw Benji lying on the floor.

(Photograph omitted)