Page last updated at 12:25 GMT, Monday, 18 May 2009 13:25 UK

Man jailed for footballer murder

Oliver Kingonzila
Oliver Kingonzila played football for League Two side Barnet's under-19s

A man has been jailed for life for murdering a promising teenage footballer in a row over a girl.

Triston Burke, 19, from Croydon, south London, admitted murdering Oliver Kingonzila, also 19, outside a Croydon bar in September 2008.

Burke used a knife hidden in a trainer to stab the former England youth player eight times, the Old Bailey heard.

He will spend at least 14 years in jail for the "frenzied" and "indiscriminate" attack, Judge Martin Stephens said.

'Gentle giant'

College student Mr Kingonzila, also from Croydon, who captained Barnet FC's under-19 football team, hoped for a professional football career.

Described by friends as a "gentle giant", he had fled to the UK as a refugee with his family from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The court heard that he and Burke were friends but fell out when Mr Kingonzila's brother Christopher started dating Burke's ex-girlfriend.

Triston Burke
Triston Burke was filmed on CCTV as he fled the attack scene

Burke, who had twice before threatened Mr Kingonzila with a knife, went to the E Bar in Croydon with a small kitchen knife hidden in his trainer on 13 September last year.

Mr Kingonzila at first walked away but Burke goaded him by saying: "Come on, do something," the court heard.

The footballer punched Burke in the face and he responded by stabbing Mr Kingonzila repeatedly, including twice in the face and once, fatally, to a major artery in his neck.

Prosecuting, Jeremy Donne QC said: "The defendant's use of the knife was so ferocious and indiscriminate that he actually stabbed and injured a friend who had tried to separate the two men."

Burke was arrested after a trail of the blood, which matched his DNA, led police to a storm drain where the knife was found. CCTV footage showed Burke fleeing the scene.

I am in anguish and my heart bleeds
Oliver's mother, Caroline Kingonzila

He pleaded guilty to murder at an earlier hearing.

Sentencing, Judge Stephens said: "(Mr Kingonzila's) death has left his family, his community and his friends devastated and bereft. He was full of promise in many ways.

"He is no more, because of you and because of the misconceived belief prevalent among so many of today's youth that carrying a knife can in some ways be explained or even justified."

The court also heard that Mr Kingonzila's older brother Herve, 27, died from a heart attack in February last year while playing football.

Their mother, Caroline Kingonzila, said in a statement: "I am in anguish and my heart bleeds.

"We supported Oliver as best we could in the hope that he would become a professional footballer one day.

"This has all been taken away from us due to someone's act of savagery and brutality."

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