A self-confessed teenage gangster who stabbed a talented rapper to death in a brutal fight outside a primary school has been jailed for 14 years.
Amani Lynch, then 17, knifed Champion Ganda 11 times in the shocking broad-daylight attack, piercing his lung and inflicting wounds so deep the knife chipped the bone.
Champion, also 17, a talented rapper under the name Chrome and a former Arsenal youth trainee, collapsed a short distance from the attack, which happened just outside Sandringham Primary School in Forest Gate.
At the Old Bailey on Friday afternoon, Judge Wendy Joseph QC sentenced Lynch to 14 years in youth detention, saying he had “committed himself to a life of serious organised crime” despite his young age.
“I’m quite satisfied either Mr Lynch brought the knife to the scene or he was at least well-aware the knife was in the cab and you were complicit in it being there”, she said.
She it was “pure good fortune” that the primary school pupils did not witness the attack during their lunch break.
“If that had happened, the effects are hardly bear thinking about,” she said.
“Three members of staff who did see it were still visibly horrified and distressed as they gave evidence three years later.”
The judge said Lynch had “shown an utter lack of understanding of what he had done”, and criticised his behaviour during the trial, when he was seen grinning in the dock and joking around just yards away from Champion’s grieving relatives.
“I don’t accept his behaviour was a sign of immaturity, it was a sign of his determination to intimidate a co-defendant who had decided to tell the court Mr Lynch was the stabber, and Mr Lynch had equally resolved not to say it.”
The court heard Lynch summoned friends to the court public gallery during the trial in a failed bid to intimidate co-accused Devante Clifford, who was preparing to point the finger at him for the fatal stabbing.
The jury cleared Lynch of murder but found him guilty of manslaughter, while Clifford and a third man, Marvin Simos, were both acquitted of both charges.
The three men had been in a cab together on May 9, 2013 when they came across Champion, a performing arts student at Stratford College, and his friend, Shaquille Davis, who were on their way to deal cannabis.
Lynch and his friends chased the two teenagers, and then a fight broke out in which Lynch was seen brandishing a knife.
He stabbed Shaquille twice and knifed Champion 11 times before fleeing with the bloodied knife hidden up his sleeve, quickly ditching the weapon and his blood-stained clothes.
Lynch was later heard boasting about the stabbing in a branch of KFC, the court heard.
At the sentencing hearing today, Champion’s mother Peguy Kato-Sweye told the court of the devastation her family has suffered and asked Lynch to explain what he did.
“There was something I always wanted to ask the boy involved in my son’s death – if you were strong enough, why didn’t you just beat him up?” she said, in a victim impact statement.
“Why did you have to stab him eleven times and permanently take him away from his family?
“My son was nothing like the boy that did this to him, he will never be special like Champion. Everybody who knew Champion knew how special he was.
“I have so many unanswered questions as to why this boy took my son from me, including what gave you the right to kill Champion the way you did.
“What issues towards Champion were so big that it was worth taking away his life and taking away a loving son, brother, and grandson?”
Mrs Kato-Sweye also lashed out at Lynch for his behaviour during the trial, saying: “What makes my pain more unbearable is seeing the lack of emotion or respect towards us.
“I see the boy laughing and joking and looking up towards his family members in the public gallery, he acts like he is special and enjoying life which is something my family are not able to do since the loss of Champion.”
Champion’s sister Jennifer said her five-year-old son Mekel still asks after his uncle and she dreads the day she will have to explain why he is not there.
“I know that one day I will have to explain to him the harsh reality that a cruel, heartless, selfish, inconsiderate human being hated Uncle Champion so much that he took his life”, she said.
Champion’s girlfriend, Danielle, added: “Champion truly is one in a million and I hope that when this is over and justice is served everyone remembers his name because he is Champion and he is still important, he is not the victim or the deceased as you say, he is Champion and will forever by Champion.”
Lynch was arrested four days after the stabbing, hiding out in a fellow drug dealer’s bedsit, but he remained on police bail because of a protracted effort to extradite Clifford from St Lucia.
Prosecutor Simon Denison QC said Lynch was a “hardened” gang member who has 15 previous convictions, including seven drug crimes, two assaults, and he was caught with a knife in 2013.
He committed a further offence of drug dealing while on bail, and Judge Joseph commented: “Clearly even at that date, Mr Lynch, young as he was, had then committed himself to a life involved in serious crime.
“Clearly he was paying no heed to the court and has no respect for the order of law.
“In his own account on the evidence, he made it plain he had whole-heartedly embraced the life and lifestyle of drug dealing because, as he put it, he wanted the money.”
Lynch, of Vanguard Close, Canning Town, was acquitted of murder but found guilty of manslaughter. He was also found guilty of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm on Shaquille Davis.
He will serve half the 14 year sentence before being considered for release.