Three Brixton males killed teenager after row at Edgware Road KFC restaurant in one of first cases to resume after being halted by Covid-19 lockdown

Yousef Beker

Three killers have been convicted of stabbing to death a teenager outside a KFC restaurant in one of the first jury trials to restart and conclude during the coronavirus pandemic.

Two youths from Brixton, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were convicted of killing 17-year-old Yousef Beker following the trial at the Old Bailey. Co-defendant Zeshaun Daley, 19, also from Brixton, was convicted of murder.

Yousef was attacked by the defendants outside the KFC restaurant in Edgware Road on the afternoon of Tuesday, 10 September last year following a disagreement.

The court heard how the defendants met in Edgware Road, with two 17-year-olds travelling from their South London homes. Moments after they came together they confronted the victim, who was with friends outside a KFC restaurant.

The catalyst for the attack was a minor spontaneous disagreement involving one of the trio and individuals within Yousef’s group which had taken place just hours before.

As the argument became heated at the scene in Edgware Road, punches were thrown between the groups; but things then escalated when two produced knives and Yousef was stabbed in his chest.

Yousef and his group tried to flee to safety, but were pursued by the defendants. Yousef was caught and fell to the ground and was subjected to a further frenzied attack.

As he lay lifeless in the street, the three split from the scene, discarding two knives in nearby gardens, before regrouping and travelling back south of the river.

Paramedics were called to the scene by passers-by at 1.55pm. Yousef was rushed to St Mary’s Hospital but sadly the extent of his injuries was too severe and he was pronounced dead at 7.29pm that evening.

A post mortem on 12 September found Yousef had died due to a fatal stab wound to his chest. He also received a stab wound in the back.

Officers were able to trace witnesses whose statements proved vital in confirming the sequence of events and catching the suspects.

DCI Andy Partridge, said: “Yousef was studying business and had his whole life ahead of him. His family have been left completely devastated by his loss at the hands of the defendants, but I hope today’s result brings them some comfort.

“Fuelled by a minor row, Yousef’s killers went out that day armed with knives, intent on committing violence; two of them travelling a significant distance to confront Yousef.

“Not put off by undertaking such a violent attack in broad daylight in front of horrified members of the public, they subjected Yousef to a particularly brutal and sustained attack; he never stood a chance.

“It is my hope that these convictions and the sentences that will follow send out a clear message to those all too willing to engage in violence that it will simply not be tolerated. London is a safer place now these violent offenders have been brought to justice.”

Olcay Sapanoglu, Senior Crown Prosecutor from the CPS, said: “This murder was a shocking, sudden, brutal and deadly display of violence on a busy street in broad daylight.

“The victim was chased and surrounded before being attacked with knives as he lay defenceless on the ground. He stood no chance.

“The prosecution case included witness accounts, medical and forensic evidence as well as CCTV of the murder.

“I hope these convictions provide some sense of comfort to the family and friends of Yousef Beker. Our thoughts remain with them.”

The defendants will be sentenced at a later date. 

As one of the first criminal cases to resume in a court, a number of factors had to be considered in order to maintain safety for all parties.

In the days prior to the jury returning all technology at the Old Bailey was diligently checked to ensure two courtrooms could be used for the multi-handed trial with the first used as the main court, and the second for overspill with a video-link into the main courtroom allowing proceedings to be beamed through. A third spacious courtroom in the Central Criminal Court was used for jury deliberations.

Social distancing guidelines were adhered to across all three courtrooms.

Some defendants chose to attend via video link, while others attended in person. When the judge was not sitting, case conferences with clients could take place inside the overspill courtroom.

The traditional courtroom set-up was also turned on its head with lawyers spread across the press box and jury stands.

Additional lawyers could observe proceedings in the main court from the video link in the second court. The public gallery was open with social distancing measures in place.

Jurors sat two metres apart in the benches where lawyers would usually sit. Each juror received their own jury bundle which would be wiped clean daily.

A one-way system in and out of the courtroom was established and jurors were only required to attend shorter days from 11am to 3pm to avoid rush hour travel. The canteen was closed and all jurors and staff were encouraged to bring in their own lunches. The building’s lifts also operated a one person only policy.

All civilian witnesses had already presented their evidence ahead of the lockdown. Other witnesses were key workers such as police officers who voluntarily attended court. In some instances undisputed statements were read out. All presented evidence was handled with gloves.

Public Health England was consulted in order to make the proceedings safe for all.

The trial started on 9 March and was paused due to the Government’s lockdown measures brought into effect from 23 March. The trial restarted with 11 jurors willing and able to continue on 11 May.

CPS Central Criminal Court manager Dawn Nanton is a key worker who had been on the frontline attending court during the lockdown and making sure that all preparations were made in advance so that the trial could run smoothly.

She said: “With a group of defendants and social distancing guidelines to work with, there was a lot to consider in terms of logistics and making sure this part-heard trial would be safe for everyone involved.

“Thought had to be given to footfall, cleanliness and the placing of various people in the courtroom environment to allow for a two metre gap between everyone. With the hard work of various teams we were able to get the Old Bailey up and safely running before any other court in the country – and for this particular multi-handed part-heard trial to be successfully concluded.

“All those involved realised the importance of keeping proceedings going in order to ensure justice for all those concerned, especially the victim and his family, despite being in the middle of a serious health pandemic.”

Pictured top: Zeshaun Daley, also inset

 


 

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