Young athlete's murderer David Nyamupfukudza jailed


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The Independent Online

A teenager has been jailed for life for shooting an aspiring athlete in "an act of cold-blooded murder".

David Nyamupfukudza, 19, was told he must serve at least 26 years for the murder of Sylvester Akapalara in December 2010.

Mr Akapalara was a budding athlete who was living with a foster family in New Cross, south east London.

The 17-year-old was shot dead in the Pelican Estate in Peckham, south east London.

His two friends were stabbed and the attackers also tried to shoot them but the gun jammed.

Passing sentence at the Old Bailey today, Judge Timothy Pontius said: "It matters very little for the purposes of sentencing why Sylvester Akapalara was shot dead at the end of 2010, but it seems likely that he was just one of many victims, mostly in their teens, who have been targeted over the last few years in acts of mindless and appalling violence simply because of their membership or assumed membership of an opposing gang.

"Young men and mere boys for whatever reason - either social deprivation, unemployment, simple boredom or arrogant adolescent bravado - seem to be attracted by the idea of being part of a group that does not recognise and still less observes accepted boundaries of decent human behaviour within the communities in which they live.

"Now yet another mother and also an adoptive family have been left desolate and distraught."

He said Mr Akapalara, who was a member of Herne Hill Harriers athletics club, was a "promising young athlete of remarkable ability".

The judge went on: "You were by the jury's unanimous finding a willing participant in that act of cold-blooded murder.

"I'm able to accept that there was no specific targeting of Sylvester Akapalara as opposed to any other remember of a rival gang.

"Rather, he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time by the most tragic of circumstances."

In mitigation, the court heard that Nyamupfukudza was not in possession of the gun until the group met at the estate.

He had also only just turned 18 at the time of the murder.

As he was taken down, Nyamupfukudza called out: "I just hope you know you've prosecuted and sentenced an innocent man.

"God will see me out of this."

The court was also read a victim impact statement from Natalie Williams, who was part of Mr Akapalara's foster family.

She said: "This loss has left a massive void in our lives.

"My family thought of Sylvester as a lovely boy to have in our home.

"He was kind and thoughtful.

"Sylvester was very focused on his athletics and had high aspirations for his own future.

"He was a very good athlete and others saw a lot of potential in him.

"We know he has gone to a better place and is sitting with the angels.

"He was a good young man who never got the chance to fulfil his dreams."

Nyamupfukudza was given a 22 year sentence to run concurrently for the attempted murder of Mr Akapalara's friend.