Two youths have been found guilty of murdering a 14-year-old boy who was stabbed with a sword concealed inside a walking stick.
Unarmed Fares Maatou, 14, was set upon in broad daylight following a confrontation involving a larger group in Barking Road in Canning Town, east London, on the afternoon of Friday April 23 last year.
Fares “offered no threat at all” and was trying to escape the defendants, who were aged 14 and 15 at the time, jurors were told.
He suffered a single 4.3in (11cm) wound to his back, caused by the sword stolen from the younger defendant’s grandfather, and passed to the 15-year-old to use, the court heard.
The 14-year-old defendant then beat Fares with the sheath before both boys fled the scene, the court heard.
In CCTV footage of the attack, Fares was seen to retreat when the older youth brandished the sword.
Prosecutor Julian Evans QC said: “Fares was not holding anything. He was completely unarmed.
He (Fares) did nothing to threaten them
Julian Evans QC
“Fares offered no threat at all to (the first boy), armed with a sword and advancing towards him, nor did he offer any threat at all to (the second boy), who was now carrying the sheath and was also moving forward towards Fares.”
The older boy then lunged at Fares – the first of three attempted blows with the sword – while the younger boy swung the sheath.
Mr Evans said: “Fares reacted by bringing both of his hands up towards his face and head to protect himself.
“As he, Fares, tried to escape, he turned his back on (the defendants) and he, Fares, moved away.
“Despite that action, (the defendants) continued to attack him.”
The older defendant lunged at Fares two further times, the court heard.
Fares tried to run away but slipped and the defendants continued to attack him, the jury was told.
The victim briefly managed to get to his feet once the attack stopped but he lost his footing again and fell against a parked car nearby.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Mr Evans said the weapon would “look like a walking stick” to passers-by.
The two defendants, who are now aged 16, denied murder and claimed they acted in self defence.
But the prosecutor said: “Fares … posed them no threat at all. He was unarmed. He displayed no aggression towards them.
“He did nothing to threaten them.”
The actions of two people have left a mother and father without one of their children, siblings without a brother, and one less friend to many
Fares' brother, Amira Maatou
A jury at the Old Bailey began deliberating last Tuesday and returned verdicts of guilty on both defendants on Monday afternoon.
Neither of the defendants can be named because of their young age.
Judge Sarah Munro QC adjourned sentencing and remanded the youths into custody.
Following the verdicts, Detective Chief Inspector Kelly Allen, of Scotland Yard, said: “It is appalling that a then-15-year-old boy has gone out carrying a sword. To be armed with such a weapon suggests an intent – that he was prepared to hurt someone without any consideration for the outcome.
“Whilst our investigation found that another boy had a knife, the level of violence towards Fares – an entirely innocent victim who was not involved in the fight at all – was shocking and utterly unnecessary.
“Fares was just 14 years old when he was killed. He had his whole life in front of him and that was cruelly taken away in horrific circumstances.”
Fares’ brother, Amira Maatou, said: “He remains in our hearts every day. He is as close to us as one can ever be, deep in our hearts.
“But, physically, we’re left to visit his grave, where no child should be. I try to comfort my parents as they break down but there is nothing I can do to take that pain away.
“The actions of two people have left a mother and father without one of their children, siblings without a brother, and one less friend to many.
“He was the light of our house and what kept us all going. There hasn’t been a day where we haven’t spoken about him.
“How does someone you love so much go away just like that? There is only one victim and that is Fares.
“Everyone else has another chance at life except him. His story lives on through us, but he should have been able to write his own. April 23 2021, the day Fares was taken away, without us being given the chance to say goodbye.”