Page last updated at 05:01 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 06:01 UK

A life taken in the name of 'respect'

By Sarah Bell
BBC News

Ben Kinsella
Ben's death led to street protests demanding an end to violence

Three men have received life sentences for murdering Ben Kinsella, who was the 17th teenager to die in a violent killing in the UK capital last year.

The 16-year-old brother of Eastenders actress Brooke Kinsella was stabbed 11 times by Juress Kika, 19, Michael Alleyne, 18, and Jade Braithwaite, 20.

As with so many similar cases, the words "retribution" and "respect" were recurring themes.

The trio targeted the innocent teenager in revenge for an earlier argument in a bar in Islington, north London, the Old Bailey trial heard.

Although Ben had not been involved in the row, they chased him and his friends as they walked home, knocking him to the ground and stabbing him after he got separated from the group.

Yet the youngsters did all they could to "weasel out" of what they had done, said detectives.

'Walked away'

In an impact statement from Ben's family, which was read to the court, his mother Deborah described him as a "happy-go-lucky boy with a heart of gold".

"The people who murdered him knew nothing about our Ben, not a hair on his head, a bone in his body, not anything about our wonderful son," she said.

"They had never met him before or spoken to him, they just cruelly took his life away with knives for no apparent reason."

They've got to seek some sort of retribution, that's what this is about... they resort to knifing someone, it's an extreme response to what is a relatively minor issue
Det Ch Insp John McDonald

Ben had been brought up to walk away from trouble, which sadly cost him his life, Mrs Kinsella said.

"He walked away to get safely home and they took advantage of that - he was one boy on his own. It seems unfair their intent was to stab someone that night," she said.

Two months after he died, Ben's family were given his GCSE exam results. He had achieved two A* and three As among his nine subjects - he had planned to go to college.

Ben's death followed a number of high-profile killings that summer, including Rob Knox and Jimmy Mitzen, and led to renewed calls to stop knife crime.

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Days after his death hundreds of protesters, including his friends and family, marched through Islington to the scene of his killing, demanding an end to violence.

They wore T-shirts with Ben's picture and slogans "RIP Ben", "Stop Knife Violence", and "You're Always in Our Hearts" printed on them.

Speaking at a press conference a few days later his sister urged young people: "Please boys and girls, put down your knives and weapons and think about the pain and suffering they will cause.

"Parents, please talk to your children and encourage them to stop all this violence," she added.

March for Ben Kinsella
Ben's sisters led a march in his memory, ending where he died.

Police said they knew who had committed the murders within hours of Ben's death, but it took a little longer for witnesses to be persuaded to come forward.

One witness, known just as Kellie to protect her identity, said Alleyne and Kika had described to her how they had killed Ben. She said she had not come forward at first because she was scared of Alleyne.

Detectives made covert recordings of conversations in a prison van between the three defendants, which seemed to indicate they were all accepting some responsibility for the death, the court heard.

In the recordings the trio discussed their alibis, potential witnesses, CCTV evidence and getting rid of their mobile phones.

Prosecutor Nicholas Hilliard QC said: "There is no falling out or blaming each other, nothing like that. They are getting their story straight."

Previous convictions

Blood belonging to Ben was found on jeans owned by Alleyne and a belt belonging to Kika. While the defendants admitted they were at the scene, in court they blamed each other for the actual stabbing.

Det Ch Insp John McDonald described the killers as "ignorant and socially inept".

"They have just tried to weasel their way out of it all the way through," he said.

The Kinsella family
The Kinsella family were at the Old Bailey to hear the verdicts

At the time of the murder, Kika was wanted by police for a robbery during which he had stabbed the victim in the torso. He had previous convictions for robbery and affray.

Braithwaite was less known to police, although he did have a conviction for attempted robbery, while Alleyne had been convicted of possessing heroin, cocaine and cannabis with intent to supply.

Ben's killing was due to the culture of young people ensuring they were "respected," Det Ch Insp McDonald said.

During the prior argument in the club, Braithwaite had been posturing and was heard to say, "tell your boy if he wants trouble, I've got my tool on me and it will open you up".

Det Ch Insp McDonald added: "They've got to seek some sort of retribution, that's what this is about. Braithwaite thought he had been embarrassed by a younger kid and wanted to get retribution.

"Now they resort to knifing someone, it's an extreme response to what is a relatively minor issue. Instead of punching, or using verbal means, they decided to stab someone many times."



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SEE ALSO
A murder that gripped the nation
11 Jun 09 |  London
Mapping UK's teen murder toll
15 Dec 08 |  UK
'Pride' over killed boys' grades
21 Aug 08 |  London
Mourners wear fancy dress for Ben
18 Jul 08 |  London
Hundreds march for stabbed youth
01 Jul 08 |  London
Vigil in memory of Ben Kinsella
06 Jul 08 |  London


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