Teen faces life term for murdering 'friend'

A 15-year-old boy who fatally stabbed a former friend over a "loss of face" after they traded insults on Facebook was facing a life sentence today.

The teenager knifed 18-year-old Salum Kombo in the chest for the "pathetic" reason that he had called him a "pussy", an Old Bailey was told.

Mr Kombo stumbled and collapsed to the ground before bleeding to death near the scene of the alleged attack in Bromley-by-Bow, east London, last December.

His killer was arrested later that day and admitted the stabbing but claimed he was acting in self-defence.

The boy, now 16, was found guilty of murder and remanded in custody for reports before sentencing next month.

David Jeremy QC, prosecuting, said it was a case in which "a young man has lost his life by being stabbed following a petty dispute and a perceived loss of face by the perpetrator".

Mr Jeremy said that a previous friendship between Mr Kombo and the defendant had turned to "hostility" and they had a fight last summer after a football match in Bartlett Park.

He said: "In the days leading up to December 20 there had been a trade of insults and threats between these two boys both directly and on Facebook.

"At one stage the boy who died called (the defendant) a pussy. That insult appears to have particularly incensed him.

"It was the combination of a silly argument, (the defendant's) over-sensitivity about his own dignity and status, and his own willingness to carry a knife that led to the events of December 20."

The court heard that on that evening he met friends outside a fish bar and was "angry", talking about stabbing Mr Kombo, and one of them tried to calm him down.

When Mr Kombo turned up, they exchanged words and walked off, apparently either to talk through their differences or settle them in a fight, jurors were told.

As they did so the defendant "without any warning" pulled out a knife from his pocket and stabbed the other teenager to the upper chest, Mr Jeremy said.

Afterwards he was seen "pounding" a wall "howling at the perceived affront to his own dignity, being called a pussy", the court was told.

"That was the pathetic reason as to why this terrible event happened - because he wanted to show he wasn't a pussy," said Mr Jeremy.

Mr Kombo collapsed about a hundred metres away and died there on the pavement despite the assistance of an ambulance driver on his way to work and a doctor from the emergency helicopter.

A post-mortem examination showed he had died from an 8cm deep stab wound that passed through to a vein, causing blood loss. The weapon has never been found, jurors were told.

The defendant told police that he stabbed Mr Kombo fearing that he had a knife on him and would stab him, the court heard.

"He went on to say that he was sorry for his actions and Salum was his friend," Mr Jeremy said.

He added: "The fact was that Salum had not had a knife on him that night."

Detective Inspector Joe Daly said outside court: "The tragic events which unfolded that night were the culmination of a combination of factors - a trivial argument, the defendant's over-sensitivity about his own dignity and status, and his willingness to carry a knife.

"As a result an 18-year-old has needlessly lost his life and a 16-year-old is now set to spend his young life behind bars."