Murder gang 'cowards' jailed for life

Six members of a bicycle gang who murdered innocent schoolboy Shaquille Smith in a park were jailed for life today.

George Amponsah and Dufeal were given 18 years' custody. The others were given 15-year minimum terms.

Dufeal had only been released on licence a week before Shaquille was attacked in August last year, after serving part of a four- year sentence for having a gun.

Khama had been a semi-professional footballer for Bishop Stortford club, and Dias was described as an "excellent pupil".

But they were likened to a "wild pack of dogs" as they abandoned their bikes and climbed over a fence into the park in St Thomas's Place.

Judge David Paget said they had attacked Shaquille who had done nothing to provoke them.

"He was truly innocent and what is more, he was yards from his own front door," said the judge.

They had ridden arrogantly through red lights and on pavements in a 10-strong relay.

After the boy was stabbed, they rode off "like cowards" to London Fields, he said.

Judge Paget added: "The most shocking aspect is that it was completely unprovoked and completely unnecessary.

"It was truly mindless violence resulting in the death of a totally innocent 14-year-old boy sitting yards from his front door."

The court was told that Shaquille had been sitting with a 16-year-old girl and a boy on the warm evening instead of doing the dishes at home.

His mother had let him off his daily chores because she thought he would be safe with the older girl, said Aftab Jafferjee QC, prosecuting.

Mr Jafferjee said: "On the night, they were operating as a roving gang of youths with violence on their minds."

In less than two minutes, the friend had to run away with his dog, the girl was cut across the neck and face and Shaquille was killed.

"He was an utterly blameless boy who said nothing and did nothing to anyone in the park to cause offence, let alone justify being murdered," Mr Jafferjee said.

"Ordinarily, at that time in the evening, that boy would have been doing the dishes but, as he was with the girl, his mother did not call him back into the house, confident that he would complete that chore before going to bed."

Mr Jafferjee said Shaquille's mother looked out of her kitchen window and saw the three smile at her.

Mr Jafferjee said a witness heard Shaquille scream for his mother and he went up to him to see what the problem was.

The target of the gang was the 17-year-old friend, who had been challenged about his brother.

Mr Jafferjee said that, when he confirmed his identity, one of the gang told him: "Well, you are getting it."

When the friend ran off with his dog, the attackers turned on Shaquille and the girl, the court heard.

Shaquille's social worker mother, Sandra Maitland, told the judge: "Why would someone as innocent as Shaquille become a target?

"Why, when he was innocently standing outside his house, his life was taken away in an instant?"

Outside court, Detective Chief Inspector Carl Mehta said: "Shaquille was a totally innocent young boy with no connection to any gang.

"Those who knew him describe him as a kind, caring and considerate boy and an excellent sportsman who had a great future ahead of him.

"The defendants are gang members who can never understand the huge amount of harm and grief they cause to families and communities by the mindless violence they inflict on others.

"Their motives were indiscriminate as they rode around on their bicycles that night, looking for someone to beat up."

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