Teenagers jailed for life for murdering 16-year-old boy in ‘cowardly’ attack

The fatal chest wound inflicted on Ronan Kanda in a case of mistaken identity was 17cm deep.

Stephanie Wareham
Thursday 13 July 2023 16:31 BST
Ronan Kanda was stabbed to death in a case of mistaken identity (West Midlands Police/PA)
Ronan Kanda was stabbed to death in a case of mistaken identity (West Midlands Police/PA) (PA Archive)

Two teenagers who stabbed a 16-year-old to death in the street in a case of mistaken identity as he walked home from a friend’s house have been jailed for life.

Prabjeet Veadhesa and Sukhman Shergill, both 17, who can today be named for the first time after an application to lift reporting restrictions was granted by a judge, were involved in a brutal attack on Ronan Kanda as he walked back home from a friend’s house where he had gone to buy a PlayStation controller in Wolverhampton last year.

Ronan, who was not the intended victim of the attack but knew Veadhesa, of Cairn Drive in Walsall, and Shergill, of Bewley Road in Willenhall, was yards away from the home he shared with his parents and sister when he was set upon on Mount Road on the evening of June 29 2022.

In what judge Mr Justice Choudhury called a “tragic coincidence”, Veadhesa and Shergill had seen Ronan leaving the house where their intended victim lived and assumed he was the boy they were looking for.

The court heard Ronan was followed and stabbed twice with a “vicious” Ninja knife that Veadhesa had bought online, leaving him with a 20cm deep wound in his back and hip area and a 17cm deep wound in his chest.

He was left to die in the street from the injuries inflicted by Veadhesa, who, along with Shergill, fled the scene after realising they had stabbed the wrong person and disposed of the weapons and the clothing they had been wearing.

The court heard Veadhesa had previously given the intended victim some money but he had not paid it back, and the defendants had gone to find him and “scare” him into returning the cash.

Earlier in the day on June 29 last year, Veadhesa had picked up the Ninja sword set and a large machete, which he had purchased online using a fake name, from a local Post Office.

Although Shergill did not inflict any blows on Ronan, he was found to have acted in the joint enterprise of his murder and the pair were both found guilty by a jury after a five-week trial.

At Wolverhampton Crown Court on Thursday, judge Mr Justice Choudhury branded it a “cowardly attack” as he jailed Veadhesa for a minimum of 18 years and Shergill for a minimum of 16 years.

He said: The devastation caused by that cowardly attack, by stabbing him from behind, is hard to comprehend for his family.

“Their loss is incalculable. Nothing I do or say today can relieve their pain.”

Ronan’s family and friends were in the courtroom wearing black ‘Justice for Ronan’ t-shirts to watch the sentencing.

They sobbed as tributes were read out to the teenager from his father, sister and mother.

Veadhesa and Shergill, both wearing black suits and ties, sat next to each other in the dock and listened to proceedings.

They both looked at the floor as Pooja Kanda, Ronan’s mother, gave a tearful tribute to her son. She said she has “no desire to live anymore” since her son was taken from her.

She told the court: “I’m proud of the man my son was in the short life he lived.

“My relationship with my son was so pure. He had so much love and respect. He was my strength, my world, he was the son every mother needs.”

Addressing her son’s killers, Mrs Kanda said: “This mother will never forgive you. If there is a God, they will show you the real justice my son deserves.”

Before their sentences were handed down prosecutor David Mason KC said there was a “significant degree” of planning and premeditation. He said: “The weapons were ordered in advance.

“They wore dark clothing to disguise their identities and both disposed of the weapons and the clothing after the killing.

“Ronan was not the intended victim, which makes this case even more tragic. He was minding his own business, walking home from the house of his friend.

“It was a brutal killing in broad daylight in front of members of the public.

“There is no real evidence of any true remorse for what they did that night.”

Defending Veadhesa, Adam Morgan said his client had no previous convictions and was of good character.

He said: “He is genuinely remorseful. It is something he will have to bear for the rest of his life.”

Timothy Hannam KC, defending Shergill, said his client should be treated more leniently than his accomplice.

He said: “This was a joint enterprise offence but a distinction can be drawn between the two defendants.

“Mr Veadhesa was the one who actually killed Ronan. Mr Veadhesa was the one who stabbed him, not Mr Shergill.”

Jailing the defendants, judge Mr Justice Choudhury, said it was “disturbing” that such weapons could be bought “with ease” online.

He said the “cowardly” attack had been part of a “trivial dispute” over money.

He told the defendants: “Ronan was a normal 16-year-old boy. He had nothing to do with gangs, drugs, violence or weapons. He didn’t even have any issues with either of you.

“He was targeted by mistake.

“When you realised it was Ronan you had stabbed, instead of showing humanity you both ran, leaving your friend to die in the street.”

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in