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Teenager sentenced for 'unwarranted and vicious' murder of ex-Aston Villa academy player

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·3-min read
Sukhbir Phull was found guilty of Ramani Morgan's murder. (West Midlands Police)
Sukhbir Phull was found guilty of Ramani Morgan's murder. (West Midlands Police)
  • An 18 year old has been sentenced over the murder of Ramani Morgan

  • The 16-year-old was described as popular and dedicated by his family

  • He aspired to become a professional footballer and had played in Aston Villa’s academy

  • Visit the Yahoo homepage for more stories

An 18-year-old has been given a minimum of 17 years for the “vicious” murder of a “popular” teenager who was pursuing a football career.

Former Aston Villa academy player Ramani Morgan was 16 when he was stabbed multiple times at a house party in Coventry on 29 February.

The attack followed concerns at the party that a dispute was getting out of control and led to Morgan leaving, but he collapsed nearby and was taken to hospital, where he died.

Sukhbir Phull, 18, of Coventry, was convicted of his murder in September, and was sentenced to detention for life on Friday.

Judge Andrew Lockhart QC said: “You carried a knife because you thought it was a good idea and because you would be able to readily resort to its use with lethal force should you deem it necessary.”

He described the attack as “wholly unwarranted and vicious” and said Phull displayed “not one shred of regret”.

“This was an anticipated knife attack on a man you had picked a fight with. He was immediately compromised and notwithstanding that you chased him,” he added.

Ramani Morgan was hoping to become a professional footballer. (West Midlands Police)
Ramani Morgan was hoping to become a professional footballer. (West Midlands Police)

“You did not give evidence. This court has heard not one word from you to justify or explain why you carried and used a lethal weapon.”

West Midlands Police said witnesses told officers that Phull was flirting with Morgan’s girlfriend, but the party’s host became concerned the house would get trashed as “things were getting out of hand”.

She told Phull that everyone needed to leave and he was later seen telling Morgan, of Erdington, Birmingham, to go. As he left, a fight broke out and he was stabbed in the chest.

Morgan, who had arrived 30 minutes earlier to meet his girlfriend, managed to escape but collapsed nearby.

Witnesses told police Phull, from Coventry, was fighting Morgan, but denied stabbing him, the force said.

A 17-year-old was found not guilty in relation to the incident.

Judge Lockhart said Phull had not been invited to the party and had drunk spirits and taken cannabis before deciding to attack Morgan.

“You were so disinhibited that you were more likely to get angry at the smallest perceived slight,” the judge said.

“This was to be an attack… where you knew you held, ready to deploy if needed, a huge lethal knife.”

Sukhbir Phull was sentenced on Friday. (West Midlands Police)
Sukhbir Phull was sentenced on Friday. (West Midlands Police)

Morgan’s family said the victim was “lively and popular”, and “very humble, always smiling, happy and joking around”.

He signed for Aston Villa’s academy aged 12, which “completely took over his life”, and after being released at 16 he was having trials at other clubs to try and secure a contract.

The teenager had also began studying to become an electrician.

“For the first time Ramani started to go out, enjoy himself and socialise more as he was doing on that night,” the family said.

“All of this was tragically cut short on 29 February. Police attended our address just before midnight to tell us the dreadful news that Ramani had been stabbed. By the time we got to the hospital in Coventry he had died. Our whole world fell apart.

“In reality justice cannot be done in this case. No sentence will ever be enough and nothing can bring Ramani back or ease our pain. We do not want something like this to happen to another family.”

Detective Inspector Laura Harrison, from West Midlands’ homicide team, said: “It again reinforces the message we are trying to share with young people, carrying weapons has grim consequences.

“What would have been a fist fight has resulted in Ramani’s death and a young man now faces a lengthy prison sentence.”

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