Life sentence for teenage robber who murdered boy aged 16 in park

A prolific teenage robber has been locked up for at least 19 years for fatally stabbing a 16-year-old boy in the leg for the sake of a mobile phone.

Stelios Averkiou was sitting on a park bench with two friends when he was targeted by Kyi-Riece Sylvester on August 1, 2021.

Sylvester, 18, stabbed him repeatedly and ran off with his mobile phone, the Old Bailey was told.

His partner in crime, Leon Gruber, also 18, had made off on a bicycle belonging to one of Stelios’ friends, jurors were told.

The victim fell unconscious and died in hospital on August 10, 2021.

A post-mortem examination found Stelios died from blood loss after sustaining three stab wounds to the upper thigh, with one 16.5cm deep.

The incident happened in broad daylight in Lordship Recreation Park in Tottenham, north London.

Kyi-Riece Sylvester court case
Leon Gruber, who was cleared of murder, was jailed for robberies (Met Police/PA)

Jacob Hallam KC had said the defendants had acted as a “team” of robbers targeting anyone they came across in the park.

There was no dispute the defendants robbed Stelios of his mobile phone and his friend’s bicycle or that Sylvester stabbed him.

Sylvester had denied meaning to kill or cause really serious harm and Gruber denied encouraging the violence.

Following an Old Bailey trial, Sylvester, of Edmonton, north London, was found guilty of murder and Gruber of Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, was cleared over the death.

On Friday, Sylvester was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 19 years.

He was handed concurrent sentences for six robberies before and after the murder, which he had admitted.

Judge John Hillen cited Metropolitan Police figures which logged 78,034 knife crime offences in a period between 2017 and 2022, with Haringey borough having the second highest rate.

According to the Met figures, 30 young people lost their lives to murder in 2021 – the highest number of teenage homicides since the Second World War, the judge said.

Judge Hillen said: “The courts have to deal with the consequences of knife crime on the victims, their families, and also on the young perpetrators whose own lives and their families’ lives are ruined by this terrible trend of violence.”

The judge noted that Sylvester was 16 at the time of the murder and had been robbing people since the age of 13, with six previous convictions for nine offences.

The robbery of Stelios came with “extra excitement” because he had gone to the same school and was associated with a rival gang to Sylvester, the judge said.

He added that the murder happened in broad daylight when there were parents and children around enjoying the summer afternoon.

On the impact on Stelios’ family, he quoted his mother as saying: “It was not as though he had a long term illness and we had the chance to care for him and say goodbye. He was literally there one minute and gone the next.”

As he was sent down, a member of the victim’s family called for him to “rot” in jail and left the courtroom screaming.

Gruber had admitted five robberies and was sentenced to 34 months in custody.