Two teenagers have been convicted following a fatal stabbing in Newham.
On Monday, 18 July – at the Old Bailey – the two 16-year-olds were found guilty of the murder of Fares Maatou, who was just 14, when he was killed.
They will be sentenced on Wednesday, 27 July.
Detective Chief Inspector Kelly Allen, said: “It is appalling that a then 15-year-old boy has gone out carrying a sword. To be armed with such a weapon suggests an intent; that he was prepared to hurt someone without any consideration for the outcome.
“Whilst our investigation found that another boy had a knife, the level of violence towards Fares – an entirely innocent victim who was not involved in the fight at all – was shocking and utterly unnecessary.
“Fares was just 14 years old when he was killed. He had his whole life in front of him, and that was cruelly taken away in horrific circumstances. My thoughts, and those of my team, remain with his loving family today, who will grieve his untimely loss for a very long time to come.”
Amira Maatou, said: “My 14-year-old brother’s murder trial is a place we never thought we would be. We don’t want to be here, we shouldn’t be here. But it is the last thing we can do for him. He remains in our hearts every day. He is as close to us as one can ever be, deep in our hearts. But physically, we’re left to visit his grave, where no child should be. I try to comfort my parents as they break down but there is nothing I can do to take that pain away.
“The actions of two people have left a mother and father without one of their children, siblings without a brother, and one less friend to many. He was the light of our house and what kept us all going, there hasn’t been a day where we haven’t spoken about him.
“How does someone you love so much go away just like that? There is only one victim and that is Fares.
“Everyone else has another chance at life except him. His story lives on through us, but he should have been able to write his own. April 23rd 2021, the day Fares was taken away, without us being given the chance to say goodbye.”
Police were called at 15:56hrs on 23 April 2021 to reports of an assault on Barking Road, E16.
Officers attended with medics from the London Ambulance Service and London’s Air Ambulance. At the scene, they found Fares suffering from stab injuries.
Despite the best efforts of the emergency services, he was pronounced dead shortly after 16:30hrs. A post-mortem examination confirmed cause of death as a stab wound.
A murder investigation was launched, led by detectives from the Specialist Crime Command working alongside colleagues from the North East Command Unit.
Detectives immediately carried out a thorough review of CCTV footage in the area.
They quickly established that Fares had been riding an e-scooter along Barking Road with a friend who was on foot. As the two boys approached a shop, they were met by the defendants – who were just 15 years old at the time – and a fight ensued between them and Fares’ friend, who produced a knife.
One of the defendants was in possession of a ‘sword cane’ and despite Fares being a bystander, he was attacked and fell to the ground. As he was on the pavement, one of the defendants continued to strike him with the sword, whilst the other hit him with its sheath.
As he lay injured on the ground, the defendants fled, taking his e-scooter with them.
The teenager who used the sheath handed himself into police later that evening; the other boy was arrested three days later. They both claimed self-defence but were charged with murder.
He said: “Both of his [Fares’] hands were in front of him at waist height – Fares was not holding anything.
“He was completely unarmed.
“Fares offered no threat at all to [the first boy], armed with a sword and advancing towards him, nor did he offer any threat at all to [the second boy], who was now carrying the sheath and was also moving forward towards Fares.”
The older boy then lunged at Fares – the first of three such attempted blows with the sword – while the younger boy swung the sheath.
The prosecutor said: “Fares reacted by bringing both of his hands up towards his face and head to protect himself.
“As he, Fares, tried to escape, he turned his back on [the defendants] and he, Fares, moved away.
“Despite that action, [the defendants] continued to attack him.”
The older defendant lunged at Fares two further times, the court heard.
Fares tried to run away, but slipped, and the defendants continued to attack him, the jury as told.
The victim briefly managed to get to his feet once the attack stopped, the court heard, but he lost his footing again and fell against a parked car nearby.
A member of staff from the restaurant said a FedEx worker, an off-duty police officer and a woman had all rushed to the teenager’s aid as he lay in the street outside the restaurant.
“They were just shouting at him, ‘wake up, wake up, try to breathe’,” the worker, who did not want to be named, said.
“Three or four of us were all shouting loudly, ‘one, two, three’, so there was a rhythm for compression.”
He said the victim, who was in school uniform, was “totally blacked out”.
“I was hoping he would end up in hospital and stay alive,” the witness added.
He said it was “really bad” when Fares’s family arrived at the scene.
“I haven’t seen anything like this,” he said, adding that the family were “expressing their grief” and “crying”.
He added: “When the doctor announced him dead he broke the news to his sister and she almost collapsed.
“Looking at the family bonding, I think he was a really loved one.”
Fares “offered no threat at all” to the suspects, and tried to escape, prosecutor Julian Evans QC told jurors.
He suffered a single 11cm injury to the left side of his upper back, caused by the sword which was said to have been stolen from the second defendant’s grandfather, and passed to the first defendant to use.
The second defendant, then aged 14, allegedly beat Fares with the sheath, before both youths fled the scene.
Following the attack, Fares’ friend said he had died while trying to protect him.
“If you knew Fares you would know he was never involved in anything,” he said.
“You died protecting me bro, where I saw you get stabbed and you dropped I looked at you bro thinking they really got him, most f****** part was they even took his scooter.
He is the eleventh and youngest teenager to be stabbed to death in the capital this year.
The family friend said they did not know if the boy’s dad is aware that his son has been murdered as he is “critically ill” with Covid-19.
The man is being treated in the intensive care unit of a London hospital after being diagnosed with the virus.
The friend, who asked not to be named, said: “This is a terrible tragedy. The family have been through so much.