Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

30 years for young athlete's killer

Athlete Sylvester Akapalara, 17, was found dying in a stairwell - his killer got a miniimum life sentence of 30 years

A young gang member has been given a minimum life term of 30 years for murdering a promising athlete.

Sylvester Akapalara, 17, was found dying in the stairwell of the Pelican estate in Peckham, south-east London in December 2010.

He had been chased by a gang brandishing knives and a gun and was shot in the neck and chest, the Old Bailey heard.

Sodiq Adeojo, 20, of Peckham, was found guilty in December of murder, two counts of attempted murder and having weapons.

He was also given concurrent 22-year sentences for attempted murder and 14 years for having the gun.

Three other teenagers were cleared and a fifth is to be retried.

The judge said: "Such is the prevailing culture in areas of London that young men, and mere boys, for whatever reason, seem to be attracted and stimulated by the idea of belonging to a group that does not recognise accepted boundaries of decent human behaviour."

Duncan Penny, prosecuting, said two of Sylvester's friends were stabbed as they tried to force their way through the main door of the block of flats but neither Sylvester - a member of Herne Hill athletics club - nor his two friends lived on the estate.

Natalie Williams, whose mother fostered Sylvester, said his death had left a "massive void".

She said: "We know he has gone to a better place and is sitting with the angels. He was a gifted young man who never got a chance to fulfil his dreams."

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