Marques Walker: Teenage killer of Jermaine Cools, 14, in Croydon jailed for life at landmark TV hearing

·6-min read

A teenage drill rapper who murdered 14-year-old Jermaine Cools in a brutal street attack with a machete has been jailed for life in a landmark televised court hearing.

Marques Walker, 17, stabbed Jermaine seven times in a “senseless attack of extreme ferocity” during a fight near to West Croydon station in November 2021.

Chilling CCTV captured the moment Walker pulled the large machete out of his coat and plunged it into Jermaine’s chest repeatedly as the boy lay on the ground, squirming in a desparate bid to save himself.

In a victim impact statement, Jermaine’s mother Lorraine Dudek said they have had to “endure a rap song made and posted online by (Walker’s) fellow gang members, goading and taunting us about Jermaine’s murder”.

She said: “I will never forgive the defendant for taking my baby away from me, robbing me of the opportunity to watch him turn from a boy into a man and ruining our family’s lives.”

Ms Dudek described being left with a “sad and empty home filled with three people suffering pain and mental torment.”

She added: “Now I fear living into old age having to endure this constant pain.”

Jermaine’s father Julius Cools asked Walker: “Why did you do that, to my innocent child who never had a problem with anybody?”

He added that Walker’s fellow gang members “have his blood on your hands”.

Marques Walker murdered Jermaine Cools in a knife attack in West Croydon (MPS)
Marques Walker murdered Jermaine Cools in a knife attack in West Croydon (MPS)

Walker, a ‘county lines’ drug dealer linked to the ‘Shrublands’ gang in south London, was on bail for possession of a knife at the time of the murder, and wrote drill rap lyrics behind bars boasting about the killing.

At the Old Bailey on Tuesday, Judge Sarah Munro KC sentenced Walker to life in prison with a minimum term of 19 years.

“This is yet another case involving the senseless murder of a young teenager, committed for reasons no mature adult could fathom”, she said.

“Jermaine Cools was only 14 when you killed him, he was the youngest victim of fatal knife crime in London in 2021.

“There have been many further murders of young teenagers since Jermaine’s death.

“Nothing seems to deter the likes of you from going on to the streets of London and elsewhere armed with lethal weapons easily acquired on the Internet, intent on serious violence without any thought for the consequences to the victims, their innocent loved ones, nor for the consequences to themselves.

“In the words of your own counsel, this was an appalling act of senseless violence.”

Prosecutor Caroline Carberry KC said CCTV footage and a video shot by a passerby showed that “Jermaine Cools did not stand a chance”.

“He could offer no resistance. He was unarmed, he was on the floor, and he was totally vulnerable”, she said.

“He was stabbed a total of seven times by Marques Walker in a senseless attack of extreme ferocity.”

Jermaine was the 27th fatal victim of knife crime that year, and the youngest victim to die on London’s streets in 2021.

Jermaine Cools was killed in Croydon, south London (Met Police/PA) (PA Wire)
Jermaine Cools was killed in Croydon, south London (Met Police/PA) (PA Wire)

The court heard a fight had broken out with Jermaine and his brothers on one side and Walker and friends on the other.

“Jermaine stumbled but regained his footing only to fall over onto the pavement possibly as a result of another member of Marques Walker’s group pushing him”, said Ms Carberry.

“It is at this point, while Jermaine was on the pavement, that Marques Walker removed the large knife which he had concealed down the front of his jacket.

“He quickly approached Jermaine who was still on the ground and the stabbed him multiple times in quick succession as Jermaine rolled around the pavement in an attempt to avoid the blows.”

Jermaine was rushed to hospital by members of the public but he died from the stab wounds inflicted by Walker.

The killer was on bail at the time of the murder, the court heard, and he went on to carry out another attack while on remand in prison.

He pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to a fellow inmate, 17, which has left the victim with severe brain damage.

The court heard Walker initiated the attack and was heard shouting “finish him off”. Afterwards he stated “that’s what snitches get” and asked a prison officer: “Is he dead?”

Also in prison, Walker wrote rap lyrics about the murder of Jermaine which were discovered by one of the guards.

“I had young stardawg doing roley poley but den I had to duck from police on me cah I left him deceased and I don high knees”, he wrote.

The court heard Walker was convicted of possession of a knife in February 2020, while a year 7 pupil at Meridian High School in Croydon.

He had been caught by the headteacher with a large ‘Rambo’ knife in his rucksack.

In April 2021, Walker dropped a knife in a police chase when he was being monitored in a ‘County Lines’ drug operation. However a prosecution for possession of a knife was dropped the following March on the grounds that Walker was a victim of modern slavery.

Six weeks before Jermaine’s murder, on October 6, 2021, Walker was caught with a fearsome Zombie knife on a bus through Croydon.

After the murder, Walker went back to his family home in Bromley. His mother found messages on his Snapchat account from friends, advising him to get rid of his clothes and phone and suggesting he may get away with murder.

Walker went on the run, and was arrested six weeks later by pure chance when police turned up at an address in Upper Norwood to arrest a different person.

Walker was described as a “habitual knife carrier”, and told officers when challenged about his behaviour: “If you guys grew up when I grew up, me stepping out of my house without a knife, I literally feel like I’m walking to my death.”

Judge Munro KC agreed that Walker could be named despite being under the age of 18, and ruled that her sentencing remarks could be filmed and broadcast as a “deterrent to others”.

“The welfare of this defendant does not outweigh the public interest in open justice and a reporting restriction is no longer necessary”, said the judge.

“The serious nature and increasing prevalence of knife crime, knife-related homicide and violent crime…; the consequent need for deterrence; the promotion of public confidence that the criminal justice system is addressing the problem; and the proximity of the defendant’s 18th birthday… all outweigh any minimal impact upon the welfare of defendant.”

This is the first televised sentencing hearing for a defendant under the age of 18 who has murdered a youth victim.

Judge Munro was forced to restart her sentencing remarks when she was interrupted by a woman shouting “he started the fight” from the public gallery, aiming her remarks at a man sitting watching.

Walker, from Bromley, Kent, pleaded guilty to murder, possession of an offensive weapon, and causing grievous bodily harm.