Page last updated at 16:45 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 17:45 UK

Gang jailed for teenager's murder

Shaquille Smith

Six gang members have been given life terms for stabbing a 14-year-old boy to death in an east London park.

Shaquille Smith was with two friends near London Fields in Hackney when the gang attacked them last August.

The killers were given minimum terms of 15 to 18 years by the Old Bailey judge, who labelled them "arrogant cowards".

George Amponsah, 19, Godiowe Dufeal, 20, Amisi Khama, 18, Freddie Amponsah, 17, Kadean Dias, 18, and Leon Atwell, 17, were found guilty last month.

The killers, including two brothers, were sentenced individually to avoid possible violence in the dock.

'Mindless violence'

On the night of his death Shaquille had been let off doing the dishes by his mother who thought he would be safe visiting a park with his friend, an older girl.

The gang were described as "a roving gang of youths with violence on their minds" by Aftab Jafferjee QC, prosecuting.

Those who harmed Shaquille one day will understand the meaning of love and the pain when you lose a loved one
Sandra Maitland, Shaquille's mother

They targeted a 17-year-old friend of Shaquille's, also in the park, because of a dispute with his brother.

When the boy confirmed his identity, one of the gang told him: "Well, you are getting it."

But the friend ran off with his dog and the attackers turned on Shaquille and the girl, the court heard.

In less than two minutes, the girl was cut across the neck and face and Shaquille was killed.

Mr Jafferjee QC added: "Shaquille was an utterly blameless boy who said nothing and did nothing to anyone in the park to cause offence, let alone justify being murdered."

Clockwise from top left: Leon Atwell, Kadean Dias, Godiowe Dufeal, Amisi Khama, George Amponsah, Freddie Amponsah
The judge called the teenage killers "arrogant cowards"

In a family impact statement read to the court, Shaquille's mother Sandra Maitland said it was difficult to put Shaquille's life into words.

She said: "I can describe his birth, his first smile, his first tear, when he first walked or ran.

"What I can't tell you is how he would take his exams, his first job, his first girlfriend, having children."

She added: "Those who harmed Shaquille one day will understand the meaning of love and the pain when you lose a loved one.

"They then will have to live with their conscience, if they have one, knowing what they did."

Outside court Det Ch Insp Carl Mehta said: "The defendants are gang members who can never understand the harm and grief they cause to families by the mindless violence they inflict."

George Amponsah and Dufeal were told they would have to serve 18 years and the other killers were given 15-year minimum terms.

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