Youths committed series of horror crimes

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The Independent Online
The chilling details of a group of teenagers responsible for a series of horrifying crimes, including the murder of the headmaster Philip Lawrence and the gang-rape of an Austrian tourist, have been revealed for the first time. Kate Watson-Smyth traces the activities of a group which thought it was untouchable.

They were a loose-knit group of teenagers who hung around the amusement arcades and pool halls of north London but between them they were responsible for a series of crimes that appalled the nation. Until now a series of court orders has prevented the media from publicly linking their cases. But with the conviction yesterday of three youths for attempting to pervert the course of justice, the reporting restrictions were lifted.

Their crimes included the murder of the headmaster Philip Lawrence, the stabbing of John Mills, husband of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the brutal gang-rape of an Austrian tourist.

Yesterday's case involved three members of the gang who tried to terrorise a crucial prosecution witness in the murder trial of Mr Lawrence.

Gregory Jananto, 17, Roland Ramos, 18, and Ramon Quiamboa, 18, were sentenced to a total of 19 years after being found guilty of threatening Anthony Garcia. They had tried to get their friend Learco Chindamo cleared of Mr Lawrence's murder.

Garcia was to tell the court that on the day of the murder he had played pool with Chindamo who had boasted of what he had done.When Jananto and the others learned of this they threatened him with knives and bottles outside a party in the West End.

Jananto was sentenced to seven years' detention and the other two were each given six years in a young offenders institute. Jananto was already serving an eight-year sentence for grievous bodily harm and robbery for the attack on John Mills, the husband of DPP Dame Barbara Mills near their home in May 1995.

It was Jananto who stabbed 58-year-old Mr Mills between the ribs with a butterfly knife after other youths had grabbed him around the neck, punched him and stolen his wallet.

The four-inch blade severed an artery and lacerated Mr Mills's liver. He lost nearly two pints of blood and would have died but for an emergency transfusion.

At his trial, Jananto waved tearfully to his mother as he was led away, but the random nature of the attack and the casual use of extreme violence was typical of the attacks that were to follow.

Among the youths arrested and questioned by police in connection with the assault were Chindamo, Colville Angol and Eduardo Agum.

Chindamo, then just 15, had a reputation as a member of a teenage gang who styled themselves after the Chinese triads.

On 8 December 1995, he and a group of friends went to St George's Roman Catholic School in Maida Vale, west London, at the request of another boy, to settle a score with a pupil.

When Mr Lawrence went to the aid of his pupil, who was being hit about the head with a metal bar and threatened with knives, Chindamo stabbed him. He was later convicted and sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure.

The following September, Angol, 18, and Agum, 15, were among a group of eight teenagers who lured an unsuspecting Austrian mother-of-two to a canal in King's Cross where she was gang raped.

She was thrown naked into the water and left to drown but she managed to scramble to safety.

Although many of those involved in the attacks knew each other, police have played down suggestions that they were part of an organised gang.

Detective Superintendent Brian Edwards, who led the Philip Lawrence murder inquiry, said yesterday it would be wrong to describe them as a hard core, cohesive gang.

"To do so would be to ascribe to them a degree of sophistication and organisation they did not possess," he said.

The one common factor was the viciousness shown during the attacks, said another officer.

"What struck me was the arrogance, the way they almost considered themselves to be untouchable and above the law."