Judge condemns 'endemic' knife culture as gang who battered victim with brandy and champagne bottles before stabbing him to death are jailed for 93 yearsGang stabbed Kelvin Chibueze repeatedly with a foot-long blade
Judge criticises 'cowardice and moral bankruptcy' on both sides of the row
The teenage victim's best friends refuse to testify against his murderers
15:27 GMT, 20 December 2012
Mass brawl: Kelvin Chibueze,17, was stabbed repeatedly with a foot-long blade
Four killers stabbed a teenager to death after chasing him out of a nightclub brandishing champagne and brandy bottles.
Kelvin Chibueze, 17, rushed out of a private party at an east London venue after he was attacked in a mass brawl involving knives and bar stools.
But the youth tripped outside a Lidl supermarket and the rival gang members sat on his legs to stop him running away before stabbing him repeatedly with a foot-long blade.
Dale Williams, 21, Lerone Boye, 25, Hugo
Nwankwo, 18, and Roger Damali, 31, denied murder but were today convicted
after a trial at the Old Bailey.
A judge condemned Britain's 'endemic' knife culture as he jailed the four members of the Barking-based Harts Lane street gang for 93 years in total.
A fifth man, deaf-mute Ibrahim Zakari,
21, who threw a bottle at Kelvin during the chase, was earlier jailed
for two years – but walked free because he had already served more than a
year in jail on remand.
Hours after the attack, David Cameron
pledged to 'wage a war' on gang culture in the capital in the aftermath
of last summer's London riots.
Kelvin, from Croydon, was affiliated to the notorious Dagenham Boys gang and went by the street name Boss Don Gramz.
A petty squabble over a girl is thought
to have started the row.
Judge John Bevan QC said today: 'The veil of silence that has fallen over the main participants in this case speaks volumes as to the cowardice and moral bankruptcy of those on both sides of this argument.
'Carrying knives, at least three on each side, is a comparatively modern phenomenon, which is approaching an endemic state among feckless, aimless youths who think nothing of wielding and using of knives in the face of the slightest provocation or perceived insult.'
Brutal: (From left) Hugo Nwankwo, 18, Lerone Boye, 25, and Roger Damali, 31, all denied murder and violent disorder but were convicted at the Old Bailey today
Vicious: Dale Williams, 21, denied murder but admitted violent disorder. He too was convicted and jailed for life after the quartet attacked Kelvin with bottles and sat on his legs to stop him escaping
It is thought violence flared inside the Arteflex nightclub, off Ilford High Road, on August 15 last year after derogatory comments were made about a girl, but Judge Bevan said the full reason will never be known.
'We are still none the wiser as to the cause, and whether of not it has to do with gang violence', he said. 'Whether there was rivalry, whether there was loyalty, whether it was revenge for a previous incident, I don't know.'
The Old Bailey trial heard simmering tensions between two rival factions threatened to boil over at a 23rd birthday party at the 150-capacity venue, behind a converted shopfront.
'One group went into the rear garden to smoke a couple of times and whenever they returned, things appear to get either tenser or the atmosphere a little more strained', said Richard Whittam QC, prosecuting.
The situation came to a head at around 4am, when Kelvin and five friends returned from the smoking area.
'The group was making its way back from the garden and was blocking the area between the entrance and the main room,' said Mr Whittam.
'There was a confrontation and knives were brandished. People were pushing and Kelvin Chibueze ran to the exit.'
Gang warfare: The Old Bailey heard that it is thought that violence flared at the 23rd birthday party after derogatory comments were made about a girl
Kelvin was stabbed inside the club during a mass brawl, which spilled outside as gang members armed themselves with Champagne and Hennessey brandy bottles from behind the bar.
The victim tried to flee but was chased into the car park of the Ilford Retail Park, close to Lidl, where he was attacked again and finally collapsed to the floor, crying, 'I can't breathe'.
He was taken to The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, but was pronounced dead. One of the wounds he received had pierced his lung.
'To say those originally in the dock did not know who inflicted the fatal injuries is nonsense', said Judge Bevan. 'That, of course, is a secret they are not going to divulge.'
He also criticised Kelvin's friends who were with him that night for refusing to testify in court or help police investigate the murder.
'Witness after witness, with one solitary exception, lacked the necessary courage to advance the truth', he said. 'The victim's best friend declined to name those who stabbed Kelvin in the car park.
'His attitude as the best friend of the victim is made clear in his statement, where he says, if forced to go to court, I shall be rude and disruptive.'
The judge identified Williams and Boye as ringleaders in the attack, while Nwankwo joined in the violence outside the club. He said all three carried knives.
Damali, he said, probably joined in the attack out of loyalty to others rather than any direct involvement.
Williams, of Barking, east London, was jailed for life, to serve a minimum of 26 years. He denied murder but admitted violent disorder.
Boye, Damali, and Nwankwo all denied murder and violent disorder but were also convicted.
Boye, of Ilford, was jailed for life, with a minimum of 28 years, while Damali, of East Ham, was jailed for life with a minimum of 23 years.
Nwankwo, of Dagenham, who was 16 at the time of the murder, was sentenced to 16 years in a young offenders institute.
Zakari, of Barking, was cleared of murder but convicted of violent disorder, having denied both charges.
Joel Asare-Minta, of East Ham, and Diphy Menga, of Ilford, were both cleared of murder and violent disorder by a jury.
Kongolo Kongola, of Plaistow, east London, was cleared of murder and violent disorder part-way through the trial due to lack of evidence.