|Judge Halts Trial of Seven Teens Accused of Sofyen Murder|
New trial will begin on Monday at Old Bailey
The trial of seven teenagers accused of the murder of Fulham schoolboy Sofyen Belmouadden has been halted at the Old Bailey after jurors were discharged.
Sofyen, who was 15, attended Henry Compton School and lived in Acton. He died on March 25 last year after being chased through Victoria Station and stabbed.
Among the accused, Obi Nwokeh, of Bermondsey, and Enoch Amoah and Samuel Rober, both from Camberwell, all aged 18, deny murder. They have also pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm and violent disorder.
Four 17 year-old youths, one from Stockwell, one from Brixton, and two from Streatham, also deny the charges.
On Thursday, it was decided that an eighth defendant, Victoria Osoteku aged 18, would be tried separately from the seven involved in the current proceedings.
A total of 20 people are accused of Sofyen's murder, with further trials due to take place later in 2011.
Before the trial was halted, the court heard that a fight between pupils from rival schools which ended in the Sofyen's "brutal and merciless" killing was organised on Facebook.
The jury were told Sofyen was "hunted down" punched, kicked and stabbed by up to 20 youths in the ticket hall of the Underground station becuause of "simmering tensions" between rival schools.
One of the accused killers is 18-year-old Victoria Osoteku, of Mereton Mansions, Brookmill Road, New Cross, who is suspected of helping arm the gang with a complete set of kitchen knives.
The court also heard the gang used batons, swords and iron bars to kill Sofyen with “indescribable aggression” in front of rush hour commuters.
CCTV footage from inside the station showed helpless Sofyen being knocked to the ground and surrounded. Jurors were told that Osoteku was also seen on camera kicking Sofyen as he lay helpless and fatally wounded.
Reporting on this, he first in a series of trials involving the 20 defendants, began after the Court of Appeal lifted an order which had previously publication of details of the trial, which started earlier this month.
It was put to the court that Osoteku helped buy the £3.99 knife-set from Argos in Shepherds Bush during a lunchbreak as she was old enough to pay for the age restricted items.
Jurors heard the night before the death one of the 17-year-olds, who was just 16 at the time, took to Facebook to recruit "troops and weapons". He repeatedly asked online friends for a "flick-up ting" and later asked an older friend to "buy some nanks from Argos", referring to a box set of kitchen knives.
Other defendants, who also communicated by texts, talked about the "madness" that was going to take place the next day.
Sofyen was rushed to St Thomas's hospital, but was pronounced dead at 6.15pm on March 25. A post-mortem examination found 20 separate marks of injury on his body, including 11 "incised or cutting wounds" of which nine were individual stabs.
One wound to his right shoulder was 12cm deep and cut in to his right lung. Another to the front of the chest sliced through a rib and in to the heart and nicked one of his vertebrae.
There were also two wounds that went through his leg and a "slash or chop" wound to the top of his head.
Following the attack 12 of the 20 suspects boarded a C10 bus and appeared "hyper" and "pumped up" to other passengers. One of the suspects was overheard telling a friend: "Didn't you see me run in to the station and shank him?"
Police officers stopped the bus and found a selection of knives as well as blade-sharpening steels and a schoolbag. Six of the teenagers now on trial were arrested at the scene.
The court heard Sofyen's blood was found on at least three knives recovered by police and one of the sharpening steels. There were also drops on Roberts' trainers and a black jacket worn by one of the 17-year-olds .
Judge Christopher Moss said he took the decision to halt the trial after legal submissions.A new jury will be sworn in and the case will begin again at the Old Bailey on Monday.
As well as attending school in Fulham, Sofyen played football for Chelsea Kickz, a scheme run by the Premier League club for young people in deprived areas, and for Acton Garden Village Youth Sunday League team.
After his death, a Chelsea FC spokesman paid tribute to him, saying Sofyen was a talented footballer and adding that he was a "valued participant" in the scheme.
His schoolmates at Henry Compton School, Sofyen's fellow pupils created an impromptu memorial in playground and decorated it with flowers and tributes. The school also created two writing walls where students could leave their own personal messages.
January 28, 2011