Five boys involved in the murder of a teenager in Sydenham who was killed as he tried to protect a friend from a revenge attack, have been convicted at court today, Thursday 26 February.
James Hunter, 18, from Sydenham, died in Wells Park Road, SE26 on 31 May 2014 after being stabbed by one of a group of five boys who had attacked and stabbed his 17-year-old friend.
A 17-year-old boy [F] was today found guilty of the murder of James Hunter and guilty of wounding his friend.
Three other 17-year-old boys [E/H/I] were found guilty of wounding and found not-guilty of the murder of James Hunter.
A 16-year-old boy [J] connected to the murder was convicted of intentionally assisting or encouraging an offence and possession of an offensive weapon.
Sentencing will take place on 14 April.
Another 17-year-old boy [G] on trial for murder and wounding was cleared of accounts.
The court heard how the trigger for events that led to James’s murder began weeks before the night of his death, and didn’t involve him or even any of those convicted of his murder.
In the weeks leading up to the murder the 17-year-old stab victim became involved in a verbal altercation with a boy he did not know, later identified as ‘J’, in the Wells Park area. The altercation ended with ‘J’ threatening to stab him.
In the week before the murder the two came face-to-face again at a bus stop in Forest Hill. This time ‘J’ showed the 17-year-old he was armed with a knife. A cousin with the 17-year-old grabbed ‘J’s arms and the 17-year-old punched ‘J’ and took his knife and threw it away.
After both incidents ‘J’ had messaged ‘E’, F’ and ‘H’ about what he was going to do in revenge (stab him) and even asked ‘F’ and ‘H’ to lend him, or get someone to lend him, a knife.
On the day of his murder James had spent it with his best friend. Whilst walking to some shops they met the 17-year-old, who they both knew and went to the chicken shop on Wells Park Road.
James and his friend went to a nearby convenience store and when they were returning towards where the 17-year-old was they saw a group of boys get off the 365 bus and approach him.
Words were exchanged between the group and the 17-year-old, who told James and his friends it was regarding the altercations with he had ‘J’ (who wasn’t with the group) previously.
The group then attacked the 17-year-old, with several of them armed with knives. The 17-year-old was stabbed and fell to the floor and was stabbed again. James intervened to defend the 17-year-old and was stabbed himself.
James collapsed and his friend called an ambulance (this was around 20:30hrs) and put him in the recovery position. Police and ambulance service attended the scene but James was pronounced dead. A post mortem examination gave his cause of death as a stab wound to the heart.
Three of the five suspects – ‘E/F/I’ – fled the scene using the 197 bus, their conversations about what had taken place overheard and their actions after the events caught on CCTV.
Following the attack ‘J’ became aware of what happened and exchanged messages about it, even contacting and meeting up with ‘E’ and messaging a third party with advice for ‘E’ about what to do next.
Over the course of 1-5 June 2014 E/F/G/H/I were all arrested over the murder and subsequently charged. ‘J’ was arrested on the 4 October 2014 and subsequently charged.