Two guilty of killing man who featured in teenage knife crime documentary

·2-min read

Two men have been found guilty of killing a furloughed travel agent who once featured in a knife crime documentary.

Abiola Akerele, 28, who was also a rapper known as Nayta, had resorted to selling cannabis after being laid off during the pandemic.

He was stabbed to death on grass outside his house in East Ham, east London, on December 29 2020.

Following an Old Bailey trial, Junaid Sulaiman, 22, and Rayhan Ali, 19, from east London, were cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.

Two more defendants, Saeed Farouk, 23, from east London, and Harry Ehibor, 21, from Camden, were cleared of all charges.

It can now be reported that Mr Akerele featured in the BBC Panorama documentary, On A Knife Edge, about gang violence when he was a teenager in 2007.

In the film, his mother Bim spoke of her fears for her sons and Mr Akerele described witnessing the build-up to one killing.

He told Jeremy Vine: “Don’t wanna get myself in, cos once you’re in it’s hard to get out. When you join a clique you gain their enemies as well.”

During the trial, prosecutor Alexandra Healy QC told how the defendants’ group had gone to the victim’s home, having arranged to buy cannabis.

There was a commotion and shouts as hooded males with their faces covered, kicked, punched and stabbed the victim as he crouched down to protect himself, jurors heard.

He was helped inside by his girlfriend but died at the scene.

A post-mortem examination found he had been stabbed in the chest and neck.

A lock knife with the victim’s blood on it was recovered nearby.

Jurors were told the defendants admitted being involved in an altercation with Mr Akerele.

But they claimed to have acted in self-defence after the victim produced a knife.

Sulaiman accepted taking him to the ground and using the blade against Mr Akerele.

Ali admitted kicking and punching in an effort to disarm him.

Jurors were told Mr Akerele loved music and had created a recording studio at his home, publishing under the name Nayta.

He had been working in a travel agency but during the pandemic he was furloughed and then made redundant.

Jurors heard he was worried about getting paid and was desperate to remain in his home with his studio and spoke to a friend about selling cannabis to make ends meet.

When police searched his home they uncovered weighing scales and bags of cannabis indicating he was involving in selling drugs.

Following the verdicts on Tuesday, Sulaiman and Ali were remanded into custody for a report on dangerousness to be prepared ahead of sentencing in September.

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