Teenagers convicted over fatal stabbing at youth centre

Two east London teenagers have been found guilty of killing a man who was stabbed inside a youth centre.

Glendon Spence, 23, and his friends sought refuge at the Marcus Lipton Youth Centre in Brixton, south London, when two hooded teenagers arrived armed with large knives and ran at them, the Old Bailey was told.

Mr Spence, who was a regular at the youth club, tripped and fell by a table tennis table and was set on by one of the attackers, jurors heard.

He suffered a stab wound to his thigh, severing the femoral artery, and was pronounced dead at the scene soon after the attack on the evening of February 21.

Rishon Florant, 17, of Peterborough Road, Waltham Forest, whose name the judge allowed to be revealed, was accused of delivering the fatal wound. He denied being involved and told jurors he had been wrongly identified on CCTV of the attack.

But his co-accused, 18-year-old Chibuzo Ukonu, of Loughton, told the court the younger defendant had carried out the stabbing.

Ukonu told jurors he was at the scene but had no intention to cause any harm to Mr Spence, let alone an intention to kill.

The jury deliberated for 21 hours to find the Florant guilty of murder and Ukonu guilty of manslaughter.

The victim’s family, who sat in court throughout the trial, quietly expressed their joy as the verdicts were returned.

Judge Mark Dennis QC adjourned sentencing until October 11 for probation service reports.

The defendants did not react as the verdicts were given but raised voices could be heard as they were led from the dock.

A woman in the public gallery angrily shouted they had been convicted “by an all-white jury” before walking out.

Judge Dennis thanked the jury and added that “emotions are always very high” in such cases.

He lifted an order banning identification of the younger defendant in light of his conviction.

Earlier, prosecutor Julian Evans told jurors the attack, which lasted a matter of seconds, was “swift and merciless”.

He said: “From the CCTV footage alone, there can be no doubt that on the evening of February 21, Glendon Spence was chased into the youth centre and there is no doubt that he was attacked there, that he was stabbed and as a result of those stab injuries he died.

“He was the victim of a swift and merciless attack.”

He told jurors the defendants arrived at the centre at about 6.45pm wearing dark clothes and carrying large knives.

They had been dropped off by a BMW 5 Series car which had been bought with £1,150 by Ukonu days before, the court heard.

Mr Spence and his friends ran inside the youth centre seeking safety. He tripped and and was set on by the 17-year-old as he lay on the floor.

Mr Spence suffered defensive cuts to an arm and hand as well as the fatal stab wound to the right thigh.

He collapsed and was pronounced dead at 7.30pm.

Later that night, the BMW was found fire-damaged and abandoned on the Peabody Estate in south London, jurors heard.

Ukonu took a coach to Manchester the next day while his co-accused was arrested as he attempted to take a flight to Uganda from Heathrow Airport, the court heard.