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KILLER COWARDS; Life for gang of thugs who stabbed lad, 14, as he chatted to girl in park.

Byline: ADRIAN SHAW

SIX gang members who killed a boy of 14 were dubbed "arrogant cowards" as they were jailed for life yesterday.

Shaquille Smith was stabbed as he sat in a park with friends on a warm evening.

Jailing the six for a minimum of 15 to 18 years, judge David Paget said: "It was truly mindless violence resulting in the death of a totally innocent boy yards from his house."

The six members of the London Fields Boys, from Hackney, East London, were sentenced one by one to avoid violence in the dock.

George Amponsah, 19, and Godiowe Dufeal, 20, were given 18year minimum terms.

Amisi Khama, 18, Freddie Amponsah, 17, Kadean Dias, 18, and Leon Atwell, 17, got 15.

Dufeal was on licence after serving part of a four-year sentence for having a gun.

He was released a week before attacking Shaquille near London Fields last August.

Khama had been a semi-professional footballer for Bishop's Stortford.

The Old Bailey heard how Shaquille had been chatting to a 16-year-old girl and 17-year-old boy about going on holiday to Jamaica.

Prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee said his mother had let him off his evening chores as she thought he would be safe with the older girl in the park at St Thomas's Place. Mr Jafferjee said: "Ordinarily he would have been doing the dishes but as he was with the girl, his mother did not call him back into the house, confident that he would complete the chore before going to bed."

The next thing she heard him screaming as he was knifed to death.

The target of the gang was the 17-year-old friend. Mr Jafferjee said: "On the night, they were operating as a roving gang of youths with violence on their minds."

The court heard how they raced towards the park on their bicycles, "arrogantly" riding through red lights and pavements. They dropped their bikes and climbed over the park fence "like a pack of wild dogs".

When they challenged the 17year-old and he admitted who he was, one of the gang told him: "Well you are getting it."

But the boy ran off and the attackers turned on Shaquille and the girl. In less than two minutes, the girl had been slashed across the face and neck and Shaquille had been killed.

After the vicious attack, the gang rode away "like cowards".

Mr Jafferjee said: "Shaquille was an utterly blameless boy who said nothing and did nothing to anyone in the park to cause offence, let alone justify being murdered."

Shaquille's mother Sandra Maitland, a social worker, asked the judge: "Why would someone as innocent as Shaquille become a target? Why, when he was innocently standing outside his house, his life was taken away?"

CAPTION(S):

STABBED Shaquille was killed at St Thomas's Place near London Fields EVIL Godiowe Dufeal EVILFreddie Amponsah, 17, got 15 years EVIL Kadean Dias, 18 got 15 yrs EVIL George Amponsah, 19, got 18 years EVIL Leon Atwell, 17 got 15 years EVIL Amisi Khama, 18 got 15 years
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 10, 2009
Words:506
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