Keelan Wilson, 15, (bottom left) was stabbed to death just yards from his home in Wolverhampton (Picture: PA)
Four gang members have been convicted of murdering a 15-year-old boy who was stabbed more than 40 times in a ‘well-planned’ attack.
Keelan Wilson suffered the fatal knife wounds just yards from his Wolverhampton home in May 2018.
A 13-week trial ended with unanimous guilty verdicts being returned against Brian Sasa, 20, Tyrique King, Zenay Pennant-Phillips and Nehemie Tampwo, all 19.
Jurors heard that Keelan was stabbed with a variety of weapons in the back of a taxi in Langley Road, in the Merry Hill area of Wolverhampton.
A trial heard Keelan Wilson, 15, ‘become embroiled in gang culture’ despite his age (Picture: Facebook)
At the start of the trial, prosecutor Michael Duck QC said: ‘It is a matter of real sadness that people of such ages have the willingness to take the life of another person.
‘It is not just the fact they were prepared to take that life but the manner in which they chose to do it.
‘This was not in any way a spontaneous act of violence. This was a well-planned, targeted group attack by a number of youths armed with knives, and that was with the plan to execute another young man.’
Mr Duck said there was evidence to suggest the victim had ‘become embroiled in gang culture’ despite his age.
(top row, left to right) Tyrique King, 19, and Brian Sasa, 20, and (bottom row, left to right) Nehemie Tampwo, 19, and Zenay Pennant-Phillips, 19, were all found guilty of murder (Picture: PA)
The court heard that Keelan’s death had followed two ‘significant’ altercations between groups of youths earlier that day, described as a ‘culmination of increasing acts of violence of gangs in the Wolverhampton area’.
Sasa, of Long Ley, Heath Town; King, of Chelwood Gardens, Wolverhampton; Tampwo, of Fern Grove in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire; and Pennant-Phillips, whose address cannot be published for legal reasons, will be sentenced in March.
All four had denied murder.
Verdicts in the case were returned around two hours after Judge Michael Chambers QC discharged a jury member who had tested positive for coronavirus last week.
Police cordon on Strathfield Walk in Merry Hill, Wolverhampton (Picture: BPM Media)
Praising the jurors for their patience and good will during what he had earlier described as ‘endless’ Covid-related adjournments, Judge Chambers said: ‘It’s customary at the conclusion of every trial for the trial judge to thank the jury for their service.
‘In a case like this you deserve particular praise. It’s essential that the rule of law, particular in cases such as this, should continue.’
The judge said of Keelan’s death: ‘It is an utter tragedy that a 15-year-old child lost his life at the hands of others who are barely older then he.’
Prosecutors used fingerprint and DNA evidence, telephone records, and witness accounts to build a case against the four killers.
Speaking after the case, Detective Inspector Nick Barnes said: ‘Keelan’s death was unnecessary and tragic. He was brutally murdered by a group of young men who chose to carry knives.
‘Our message is clear: if you carry a knife you are likely to use it. The consequences are truly devastating and those responsible are now facing lengthy prison sentences.
‘Keelan was a child who had his whole life ahead of him. His loss is felt by many; the shocking amount of violence on our streets was senseless and completely incomprehensible.’
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