Four people found guilty of the murder of Keelan Wilson
“It’s so very sad that a 15-year-old boy - with his entire life ahead of him - was murdered on our streets in a well-planned and coordinated group attack by four young men armed with knives"... These are the words of Detective Inspector Nick Barnes who led the investigation into the tragic and untimely death of schoolboy Keelan Wilson.
Today, Monday 18 January, four people have been found guilty for their part in Keelan’s murder in Merry Hill, Wolverhampton on 29 May 2018.
Keelan was attacked by the group in Strathfield Walk at around 11pm where he was sat in taxi. He was stabbed over 40 times.
His death was a culmination of increasing acts of violence between opposing gangs in Wolverhampton.
There had been a series of incidents at various locations across the city in the days and weeks preceding. There were also a number of outbreaks of violence and disorder earlier that day.
The first was at barbers shop on Victoria Street. An associate of Keelan’s was attacked just after 3.30pm, it spilled out onto the surrounding streets and culminated in the production of weapons in broad daylight in a busy area of the city centre.
The second took place at Legge Street. Keelan has been dropped off at nearby Joan Street. He’d wanted to check that his friend, who was involved in the previous incident, was alright. Shortly after Keelan and two others were shot at by a group of youngsters on bikes. No one was injured but it was clear tensions were running high and those involved in the ongoing disputes were prepared to use extreme violence.
This violence culminated in the tragic and violent death of Keelan a little later in Strathfield Walk.
Keelan and a friend, who he met after the earlier incident in Legge Street, spent some time driving around in a Citroen which was unreliable and which broke down on several occasions.
They were seen attending to the car, but asked some people passing to call them a taxi. It arrived three minutes later. Meanwhile a group were seen heading towards Keelan. He was attacked by this group - the defendants - and stabbed 43 times.
Detectives carried out a painstakingly extensive investigation. A number of people were arrested in connection with Keelan’s death over the next 18 months. As part of our enquiries we trawled through hundreds of hours of CCTV, witness accounts and mobile phone records.
Tyrique King, of Chelwood Gardens, Nehemie Tampwo from Fern Grove, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Zenay Pennant-Phillips from North Green, Wolverhampton, all aged 19, and Brian Sasa, of Long Ley, Heath Town, aged 20, were charged with Keelan’s murder.
They were found guilty of murder following a lengthy trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court. They will be sentenced on Friday 19 March.
Detective Inspector Nick Barnes, from our homicide team, said: “Keelan’s death was unnecessary and tragic. He was brutally murdered by a group of young men who chose to carry knives.
“It’s a tragic reality that we’ve seen an increasing number of young people who decide to carry weapons.
“Our message is clear, if you carry a knife you are likely to use it. The consequences are truly devastating and those responsible are now facing lengthy prison sentences.
“Keelan was a child who had his whole life ahead of him. His loss is felt by many, the shocking amount of violence on our streets was senseless and completely incomprehensible.
“Our investigation has been incredibly complex and it’s taken some time to get those responsible charged and put through the court process. However, throughout, we shared the same desire as Keelan’s family, to bring them to justice.
“I hope the outcome today offers them some comfort. My thoughts remain with them."
Chief Inspector Becky Barnsley, from Wolverhampton police, said: “My sincere condolences are with Keelan’s loved ones at this difficult time.
“We have a dedicated gangs team in Wolverhampton which aim to tackle gang violence by identifying those involved, offering support and diversions away from gang culture and disrupting violent and criminal behaviour.
“Keelan’s death is heart-breaking. No family should have to deal with the pain and distress that has comes from the mindless, brutal violence used by this gang."
We’re committed to tackling knife and gang crime. Last year we spoke to convicted teen murderer, Sadam Essakhil, from prison. We’re sharing his candid interview, where he talks about what he did and his life in prison, with young people across schools in the West Midlands to warn them not to carry knives.
While, not a decision we took lightly, we understand that some young people do not want to listen to what we have to say. Sadam’s message is powerful and has been providing some emotive thoughts and conversations amongst the young people who’ve seen it so far.
Sadam’s story can be found here.
We’ve also recently spoken to Omar Sharif, an ex-gang member.
Growing up in an area of London where gun and knife crime were a way of life, Omar became involved in a gang at an early age.
He was just 13 when he first started carrying a knife. When he was 15, his friend Jevonne was stabbed and killed. It was a horrifying wake-up call for Omar to change.
He moved to Coventry to get away from the gang and has since turned his life around to help deter others from following the same destructive path.
Listen to Omar as he tells his story of his experience being in a gang, and how they make you feel like you are part of a family - until something goes wrong, when you find yourself alone here.
Anyone with information about gang or knife crime should contact us via Live Chat on our website or by calling 101.