Page last updated at 16:32 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 17:32 UK

Life sentences for boy's killers

(clockwise) Tirrell Davis, Brandon Richmond, Michael Williams, Jamel Bridgeman and Kurtis Yemoh
The gang ran off laughing after stabbing Kodjo

Two teenagers found guilty of murdering 16-year-old schoolboy Kodjo Yenga have been given life sentences.

Kodjo was stabbed in the heart in March 2007 after being ambushed by a gang, including two girls, armed with knives and bats in Hammersmith, west London.

Tirrell Davis, 17, from Shepherd's Bush, west London, and Brandon Richmond, 14, from Hammersmith, were ordered to serve a minimum of 15 years.

Three other youths were given 10-year custodial sentences for manslaughter.

Michael Williams, 14, from West Kensington, west London, Jamel Bridgeman, 15, from Shepherd's Bush, and Kurtis Yemoh, 17, also from Shepherd's Bush, were all convicted of manslaughter.

It emerged that the Yemoh was in court just hours before Kodjo's death.

Kodjo Yenga's mother says she feels extremely sorry for her son's killers

Despite objections from the police, he had been given bail by magistrates after he was arrested for the theft of a bicycle and for intimidating a witness.

The court heard that Kodjo went into the area after being challenged to a fight by one youth and was then ambushed by others.

He had said to the youth with the knife: "Do you think you are a big boy because you have a knife to me?"

He was told: "I don't care. I want you to respect me," the court heard.

I was screaming, 'Please don't stab him, please don't stab him
Kodjo's girlfriend

As passers-by tried to help, the gang, some of them in their school uniforms, ran away laughing.

The teenager was left dying in his 15-year-old girlfriend's arms.

She told the court that one boy who held her around the neck and threatened to stab her, while others attacked Kodjo after he tripped over while trying to get away.

She said: "I was screaming, 'Please don't stab him, please don't stab him'."

Speaking outside the court on behalf of Kodjo's mother Ladjua Lesele, Councillor Marianne Alapini said: "I would call upon all young people to stop using weapons, to avoid being in a gang, and to stop all violent acts.

Kodjo Yenga
Kodjo Yenga was attacked by a gang armed with bats, knives and a dog

"Instead, I implore you all, please, please focus on your education, contribute positively to your community, and most importantly, do the things that will make your family and parents proud of you."

Det Supt Matthew Horne said: "Some of the boys were only 13 when they committed these crimes - children, only just teenagers.

"To their parents I would ask them this: what were your kids doing? Where did you think they were at the times these boys were so brutally killed?

"That's a message to all of us who are parents, we have to take some responsibility to ensure our children are brought up as honest and decent human beings."

The family have announced plans to launch the Kodjo Yenga Trust and Foundation to help disadvantaged young people go to university.

The trust will be launched with a concert in Kensington and Chelsea on Kodjo's birthday, 30 July.

Kodjo's killers were sentenced on the same day as three other teenagers were given life sentences for murdering 14-year-old Paul Erhahon in an unprovoked attack in east London last April.

Two other teenagers, who were convicted of manslaughter over Paul's killing, were also ordered detained.


SEE ALSO
'Laughing gang' killed teenager
11 Feb 08 |  London

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