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Gang went looking for trouble night they murdered Shaquille, 14

PUBLISHED: 00:41 10 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:26 05 October 2010

Memorial at St John Cash School, Stepney Green, for the death of Saquille Maitland-Smith, who was stabb to death last week in Hackney, East London. September 3, 2008

Memorial at St John Cash School, Stepney Green, for the death of Saquille Maitland-Smith, who was stabb to death last week in Hackney, East London. September 3, 2008

Carmen Valino

SIX gang members have been convicted at the Old Bailey today of the unprovoked murder of 14-year-old schoolboy Shaquille Smith in park just yards from his home. His mother had looked out of the window of their home in Hackney when the gang rode into St Thomas’s Place looking for someone to beat up

ABOVE: Friends at Sir John Cass Secondary in East London opened a book of condolence last summer in memory of their popular schoolmate, 14-year-old Shaquille Smith from Hackney...

BELOW: The six thugs who murdered Shaquille. They are (top row) Leon Atwell, 17, Freddie Amponsah, 16, and George Amponsah, 18, Kadean Dias, 17, Godiowe Dufeal, 19, and Amisi Khama, 18...

By Mike Brooke

SIX gang members have been convicted at the Old Bailey today (June 9) of the unprovoked murder of 14-year-old schoolboy Shaquille Smith in park just yards from his home.

His mother had looked out of the window of their home in Hackney only moments earlier.

Suddenly the gang rode their bikes into the park in St Thomas’s Place looking for someone to beat up.

They picked on Shaquille, his 16-year-old sister and their 18-year-old friend for no reason.

He was kicked and punched to the ground before being stabbed on a quiet summer’s night last August.

PACK OF DOGS’

A witness watched them act like “a pack of dogs” swarming into the park to attack.

Shaquille fell from a single stab wound. He was rushed to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, but died hours later.

He was mourned by friends at Stepney’s Sir John Cass Secondary where he was an outstanding pupil studying for his GCSEs.

They held a memorial at the school in their grief at his loss and opened a book of condolence in his memory.

“He was a totally innocent young boy with no connection to any gang,” said Det Chief Ins Carl Mehta who led the hunt for the gang.

HOODIES

“The motives of the youths involved in his murder were indiscriminate as they rode around that night, looking for someone to beat up, wearing hoods up to hide their identities.”

Some attacked and chased his friend, threatening him with a knife until he fled for his life.

Others attacked and punched Shaquille’s sister, slashing her across the face with a knife.

Shaquille had no time to act as several thugs punched and kicked him, then stabbed him in the stomach.

His mother Sandra Maitland rushed out of the house to her son’s aid as the youths fled after she heard the attack—but was unable to save him.

LIGHT DIMMED’

She said in a family impact statement read out to the court: “It is difficult to describe the life Shaq has lost. I can describe his birth, his first smile, his first tear, when he first walked, going to nursery and onto school.

“What I can’t tell you is how he would manage his exams, his graduation, his first job, his first car, his first girlfriend, getting married, having children.

“A light has been dimmed and put out of our lives. We never had a chance to say goodbye.”

The six convicted, all from the Hackney and Homerton districts, are Leon Atwell, 17, from Duncan Road, Freddie Amponsah, 16, and George Amponsah, 18, both from Greenwood Road, Kadean Dias, 17, from Dublin Avenue, Godiowe Dufeal, 19, from Well Street, and Amisi Khama, 18, from Grand Union Crescent. All six are being sentenced at the Old Bailey tomorrow (Wednesday).


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