Fifth defendant convicted of unlawfully killing 15-year-old Birmingham schoolboy

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A fifth teenager has been found guilty of unlawfully killing schoolboy Keon Lincoln after buying weapons used in the killing, including a hunting knife found in a getaway car.

Kieron Donaldson was cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter by a majority 10-2 verdict on Friday, a day after four other defendants were found guilty of murder.

Jurors had been instructed to consider whether Donaldson, aged 18, had assisted or encouraged one of 15-year-old Keon’s attackers to carry out the attack.

Teenage boy killed in Handsworth
Keon Lincoln died around two hours after being attacked in Handsworth in January (West Midlands Police/PA)

The panel, which deliberated for more than 17 hours at Birmingham Crown Court, was told that Donaldson was guilty of manslaughter if they could not be sure he intended the attackers to cause really serious harm to Keon.

Donaldson was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on November 29 alongside a 14-year-old gunman, a 16-year-old youth from Walsall, and 18-year-olds Tahjgeem Breakenridge and Michael Ugochukwu.

A five-week trial head that Keon was pronounced dead at Birmingham Children’s Hospital around two hours after being subjected to a “short but brutal” gang attack outside his home in Linwood Road, Handsworth, on January 21.

The court was told Donaldson, of Aston Lane, Perry Barr, bought around a dozen knives online in the months before the murder, including one bearing Keon’s blood which was found in a stolen Ford S-Max.

Kieron Donaldson
Convicted of manslaughter: Kieron Donaldson (West Midlands Police/PA)

It was also alleged that Donaldson’s fingerprints were found on the blade of the weapon, while Ugochukwu’s DNA was recovered from its sheath.

The trial was told Donaldson arranged for a taxi which picked up Breakenridge and Ugochukwu before the attack and dropped them off near his home.

Addressing jurors at the start of the trial, prosecutor Michael Burrows QC said of the knives and gun used in the attack: “You will want to consider where those weapons came from.

“Of course, weapons can come from many sources. But, as you know, there are restrictions on selling weapons.

“For instance, people who sell knives should not sell any knife to anyone under 18.

Michael Ugochukwu
Michael Ugochukwu was found guilty of murder (West Midlands Police/PA)

“The first four defendants were under 18 (at the time of the killing) but Kieron Donaldson was 18.

“So, he could buy knives without restriction and, if he chose to, supply them to his friends and others under 18.

“The prosecution assert that is what he has done in this case. That assertion is based on evidence.

“In short, in a period of less than three months, from October 15 2020 to January 5 2021, Donaldson bought 10 hunting knives, two survival knives and two machetes.”

The court was told all the purchases were made online using Donaldson’s email address, but none of the knives were found when the police searched his home a month after the murder.

Tahjgeem Breakenridge
Tahjgeem Breakenridge was found guilty of murder (West Midlands Police/PA)

The 14-year-old was also convicted of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, while the 16-year-old and Breakenridge and Ugochukwu were further convicted of having an offensive weapon.

The trial was told Keon suffered eight sharp force injuries and a fatal injury to his abdomen from one of two gunshots fired in Linwood Road at about 3.35pm on January 21.

The gunman, who cannot be named because of a court order, told jurors he was not at the murder scene but admitted he had lied to police.

The trial was told Breakenridge, of Oldfield Road, Balsall Heath; Ugochukwu, of Twyning Road, Edgbaston; and the youth from Walsall were all caught on CCTV armed with long-bladed knives.

Detectives have said there is no evidence to suggest territorial gang rivalries were linked to the killing, and they could not say whether Keon was specifically targeted or if he was attacked “by chance”.

Pastor Neville Popo, a friend of Keon’s family, had called for an end to a so-called “postcode war” at a vigil shortly after the murder.

Speaking after Keon’s killers were brought to justice, the pastor said the family were still trying to understand why he was attacked.

Describing Keon as a bubbly character who loved pranks and dancing, the clergyman said: “From then until now we’re still trying to come to terms with why – we still don’t know.

“The crime that was committed on Keon is heinous, it’s diabolical, it’s unnecessary, it never needed to happen. We are trying come to terms with that and just want closure.

“It helps his mother to at least feel a bit more peace to know that those who did the crime are now behind bars.”

Paul Farrow, a specialist prosecutor at the CPS, said: “Our thoughts are with Keon’s family and friends during this difficult time.

“While these convictions will never be able to replace what they have lost, I hope it gives them some comfort that those responsible have been held accountable for their actions.”

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