A group of teenagers who “executed” a 15-year-old schoolboy by stabbing him more than 40 times have been found guilty of his murder.
Keelan Wilson’s death in a residential street came after “increasing acts of violence” between gangs of young people in the Wolverhampton area, prosecutors said.
Brian Sasa, 20, Tyrique King, Zenay Pennant-Phillips and Nehemie Tampwo, all 19, were accused of setting up a “well-planned, targeted group attack” and thought they were “untouchable”, jurors were told.
They struck as he sat next to a friend in a taxi, yards from his home on 29 Ma,y 2018, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.
Judge Michael Chambers QC said on Monday: “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.”
Police said it had followed an escalation of violence between rival gangs in Wolverhampton.
An associate of Wilson’s had been attacked at a barber shop, an encounter that spilled out on to the street.
Wilson had already been shot at by youngsters on bikes hours before he died, though nobody was hurt in that incident.
He later went to meet a friend and drove around in a Citroen that broke down several times. Eventually passers-by called them a taxi and the two got in before Wilson was attacked.
Michael Duck QC, prosecuting, said during the trial: “It is a matter of real sadness that people of such ages have the willingness to take the life of another person.
“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.”
Wilson become “embroiled in gang culture” and evidence suggested he had become part of a postcode gang, groups which can “seek retribution in terrifying ways”, Duck said.
He told jurors that shortly before 11pm the defendants ran to Wilson as he sat in the taxi on a residential street in the Merry Hill area of Wolverhampton, pulled open the rear door and attacked him.
Wilson suffered 43 knife wounds, at least three of which may have been fatal, while the taxi driver received a minor cut and the friend was unharmed.
“That act was committed by the group under the gaze of the public,” Duck said.
“If you, as a group, are prepared to behave in that way with people watching, what does that tell you about the group? They thought they were something akin to untouchable.”
He added: “It means that, as awful as it is to consider, each member of that attacking group had been part of an agreement to end Keelan Wilson’s life at 11pm that night by inflicting the most appalling violence on him.”
This violence culminated in the tragic and violent death of Keelan a little later in Strathfield Walk.
Keelan and a friend, who he met after the earlier incident in Legge Street, spent some time driving around in a Citroen which was unreliable and which broke down on several occasions.
Sasa, of Heath Town, King, of Wolverhampton, Tampwo, of Bletchley, Milton Keynes, and Pennant-Phillips, whose address cannot be published for legal reasons, all denied a single charge of murder.
They are due to be sentenced in March.
Detective Inspector Nick Barnes, of West Midlands Police, 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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