Five face jail over Victoria station killing

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The Independent Online

A group of teenagers who hunted down and killed another schoolboy in a brazen and merciless attack face jail.

A pack of 20 youths, armed with weapons including a samurai sword and machetes, pursued 15-year-old Sofyen Belamouadden into a busy rush-hour London underground station before punching, kicking and knifing him repeatedly as he lay helpless.

Seconds later they disappeared, leaving the youngster dying on the floor of the station, stabbed nine times with such ferocity that one blow cut through his heart and into his spine.

"He was given no chance of life. So brazen and confident were his killers that they openly carried the various weapons that they used with them as they ran towards him and together hunted him down," said Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting.

He added: "Such was their arrogance that they carried out that kind of attack in the heart of the capital city, in a public place, a terminus station at the height of the rush hour, and in sight of scores if not hundreds of people passing by, people going to their own homes."

The four-month Old Bailey trial heard one member of the gang, Samuel Roberts,18, explain he had joined in the violent frenzy simply because "everyone else was doing it".

Today Obi Nwokeh, 18, and a 17-year-old youth were convicted of murder, while Roberts, Adonis Akra, 18, and another 17-year-old were cleared of the charge but convicted of manslaughter. Enoch Amoah, 18, was cleared of both charges but convicted of violent disorder. All six defendants were found guilty of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm.

The violence erupted in March last year because of "simmering tensions" between pupils from two west London schools, who passed through Victoria station every day. Sofyen, from Acton, west London, was targeted in revenge for a boy being given a bloody nose during an "inconsequential" skirmish at the station the day before.

Some of the group planned their revenge via Facebook and mobile phone, recruiting "troops and weapons". One message said "they will get slumped" – meaning "killed or seriously harmed".

The following day Sofyen and his friends were "hopelessly outnumbered" when they were chased across the concourse. Sofyen tumbled down a flight of stairs into an Underground ticket hall where he was surrounded in front of terrified and panicked commuters who talked of the "pack mentality" and "indescribable level of aggression".

The court heard that the youths were armed with a £3.99 block of knives from Argos as well as a samurai sword, machetes and screwdrivers.

"They were so heavily armed that no other individual or smaller group or even police officer or member of station staff could withstand them or stop them," said Mr Heywood. A witness said the attack was over in "one or two seconds", after which Sofyen was left "motionless" on the ground.

"Despite expert medical attention given to him, he could not be saved," said Mr Heywood. "His life simply ebbed away."

One defendant, Samuel Roberts, said he did not see any weapons but admitted kicking Sofyen in the head: "I don't know what I was thinking. Having looked back on this I can only feel shame."

He added: "Everyone else was doing it. It was stupid, I don't know what to say."

Akra, admitted being on CCTV footage from the station hall but said he was "unaware of what was going on", that he did not stab the schoolboy, and that he was "shocked" when he later learned of what had happened.

Nwokeh, of Bermondsey, and the 17-year-old denied the charges but were convicted of murder by unanimous jury verdicts. Along with Roberts, of Camberwell, Akra, of Stockwell, another 17-year-old and Amoah, of Camberwell, they were remanded in custody and will be sentenced following the conclusion of separate trials relating to the killing.