Sunday Essiet was just 15 when he was chased into a park and stabbed to death in broad daylight in a deadly outbreak of gang violence in South London.
The orphan, known as ‘Baby’, had angered members of a local youth gang when he tried to threaten them with an imitation gun.
Gang members Sikuru Doherty, 19, Ifedotun Gbadebo-Araoye, Miles Maddy and Adeniyi Oloyede, all 18, took lethal revenge on the youngster.
Ignoring his desperate pleas for mercy, the four killers cornered Sunday in a fenced-off football pitch, where they stabbed him nine times in the back.
The victim (pictured, right) had arrived from Nigeria in 2000 with his mother and sister, having lost his father two years earlier.
He was orphaned when his mother fell seriously ill and died in 2003, leaving him to fend for himself.
Sunday stayed with family friends but when his sister moved in with her boyfriend, he ended up flitting between hostels.
On February 19, 2008, Sunday used an imitation gun to try and warn off the four killers, following a violent incident which led to the arrest of his cousin.
But when it became clear that the weapon was harmless, he fled with the gang in hot pursuit.
Sunday was eventually cornered in Invermore Place, off the Glyndon Estate, in Plumstead.
Proecutor Ed Brown, QC, later told the Old Bailey: ‘He was killed despite his pleas to his killers to stop and some who saw the attack describe him as having no chance.
‘The reality of the events is that Sunday was hounded by the group around the park.
‘He managed to escape but only temporarily and he ran away but he was chased back and forth across the park and then to a wall where he had no escape and where he died.
‘Sunday was hounded by these four defendants, a number of whom were armed with knives.
‘Sunday’s friends called out to them not to kill him. Sunday himself called for help as he ran away and begged them not to attack him again but all this was to no avail.
‘He was stabbed in the back nine times – with one of the blades making a 10 cm wound into his chest.’
The gang fled leaving Sunday dying in a pool of blood. Paramedics were flown to the scene but could do nothing to save the teenager.
Apparently unaffected by his victim’s plight Gbadebo-Araoye robbed eye-witness Ibrahim Ajidagba as he left the scene – snapping off a gold chain from his neck after holding him at knifepoint.
Mr Ajidagba told the gangsters’ trial: ‘[Sunday] was on the floor. They were just kicking and stamping.
‘Someone was facing me, asking for my chain. Even when he asked for my chain I wasn’t thinking about my chain, I was thinking about someone dying on the floor.
‘A little kid is dead, a little boy.’
Oloyede and Gbadebo-Araoye fled the country immediately after the killing to Nigeria where they stayed with family, but they returned voluntarily and handed themselves in to police.
All four defendants were convicted of murder at the Old Bailey at the end of a two-month trial.
Killers: Above (left to right) Ifedotun Gbadebo-Araoye, Miles Maddy and Adeniyi Oloyede.
Doherty and Ifedotun Gbadebo-Araoye were jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 16 years, while Maddy and Adeniyi Oloyede, nicknamed ‘knifer’, were given life sentences and ordered to serve a minimum of 15 years and 13 years respectively.
The court heard a prosecution witness was left scarred when acid was thrown into his face after he had testified from behind a screen.
Jailing the gang, Judge Timothy Pontius QC said: ‘Whatever might be said about Sunday Essiet, the life that he led and the fact that at the age of 15 he was carrying a gun on the day that he met his death, nothing can possibly provide any justification for the way his was cut so brutally short.
‘The attack upon him in which you all joined in various ways and at various times, was savage, merciless and unrelenting, culminating in the use of three knives – one of which was used to cause the fatal wound.
‘Plainly the jury’s unanimous verdict reflects the active participation by each of you in the murder of Sunday Essiet in a group attack in a public place, during the day.’
In mitigation John Ryder QC, for Doherty, suggested the pattern of knife wounds were ‘consistent with a juking exercise’ – an attack to punish or humiliate a victim, often used by gangs.
He said the attackers had intended to cause really serious harm, rather than to kill, but this was dismissed by the judge.
‘The only realistic conclusion is that you had the intention to kill,’ he said.
‘Three knives, causing multiple wounds, admits no other sensible conclusion.’
Gbadebo-Aroaye was also convicted of robbery. He received a seven-year sentence to be served concurrently for the offence.