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Teenagers guilty over killing of 15-year-old boy

Aspiring musician Tashaun Aird was knifed nine times in the chest and back in a Hackney park on the evening of May 1.

Tashaun Aird (Met Police/PA)
Tashaun Aird (Met Police/PA)

By Emily Pennink, PA Old Bailey Correspondent

Three teenagers have been found guilty of killing a 15-year-old boy after allegedly setting out to attack members of a “Red Pitch” gang.

Aspiring musician Tashaun Aird was knifed nine times in the chest and back after he and his friends fled through a Hackney park on the evening of May 1, the Old Bailey was told.

Two youths, aged 15 and 16, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and 18-year-old Romaine Williams-Reid were accused of his murder.

A fourth defendant, 16-year-old Caden Stewart, became unwell in custody and died on June 27, 20 days after he was charged with murder.

A jury deliberated for 15 hours to find the 15-year-old defendant guilty of murder and his co-defendants guilty of the alternative charge of manslaughter by a majority of 11 to one.

The two youths were also found guilty of wounding a 16-year-old boy with intent and Williams-Reid was found guilty of the lesser charge of wounding.

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Romaine Williams-Reid, 18, from Romford (Met Police/PA)

The court heard no evidence to suggest either victim was connected to the alleged gang target.

The three teenagers were remanded into custody to be sentenced on January 24.

As they were sent down, an row erupted in the dock and shouting and banging could be heard as they were led away by officers.

Meanwhile, the public gallery packed with the defendants’ supporters was cleared amid angry outbursts.

The court heard how the 15-year-old defendant was excluded from school for five days after being caught with a Rambo-style knife in his trousers just over two months before the murder.

Prosecutor Julian Evans had told how Tashaun was socialising with friends in Somerford Gardens, in Hackney, north-east London, before the attack.

Earlier that day, Tashaun had told Williams-Reid that he was not part of the Red Pitch Hackney-based gang, jurors heard.

Williams-Reid then spoke to Caden who set off in an Uber taxi with the other defendants, the court heard.

Mr Evans said Williams-Reid had been keeping watch on Tashaun and his friends before the others arrived all “intent on violence”.

As the friends scattered, the two youths, both armed with blades, ran after Tashaun and the 15-year-old repeatedly “lunged” at him, the prosecution claimed.

Meanwhile, Caden, who was said to have had a sword, chased after a 16-year-old and stabbed him in the back before Williams-Reid took his bicycle, the court heard.

Tashaun managed to get out of the park but was stabbed again by the 15-year-old, Mr Evans said.

The three youths made off in the Uber and Williams-Reid cycled away on the injured boy’s bike, it was claimed in court.

The 16-year-old victim, bleeding from a wound in his back, sought help in a nearby shop and went on to make a full recovery, jurors were told.

Tashaun managed to walk a short distance before he collapsed face-down on the ground. He was pronounced dead 45 minutes later.

A post-mortem examination found nine wounds, with a fatal 11cm deep stab wound to the chest.

Mr Evans told jurors that it was clear from CCTV footage that a group of four youths had advanced on Tashaun and his friends in Somerford Gardens.

He said: “There can be no doubt that Tashaun was chased and attacked inside the park by members of that group. During the course of that attack, he was stabbed with a knife or some other bladed weapon.

“It is the prosecution case that between them, those four youths approached Somerford Gardens together as a group. They were intent on serious, if not fatal violence. At least two of them were armed with knives or other bladed weapons.”

Williams-Reid, from Romford, east London, and the two boys denied all the charges against them.

The 15-year-old claimed he was not there but was implicated by his co-defendants.

The 16-year-old said he had been asked to join Caden in a plan to “scare and humiliate” members of the Red Pitch gang but denied having a weapon.

He said he saw Caden with a sword and claimed the 15-year-old defendant had stabbed Tashaun.

Williams-Reid said he was in the park to meet a girl and knew nothing about any planned violence.

Following the verdicts, Tashaun’s family described the attack on the 15-year-old as “senseless and unprovoked”.

They said in a statement: “There can be no comfort to us other than these individuals being off the streets and out of harm’s way.

“However, no words could ever describe the pain, numbness and sheer anguish that we as a family have felt since he was taken away from us so suddenly on May 1.

“No family should be put through what we have experienced these past seven months, you hear about knife crime and never expect it to be one of your own.

“Our child was hunted down and brutally attacked, the actions of those responsible for his killing were cowardly as he was defenceless to it, he did not harm anybody, nor did he warrant this to happen to him. No family would ever expect their loved one not to return home.

“Life will never be the same again for us and no sentence for taking our Prince’s life could ever be enough.”

Detective Chief Inspector Helen Rance, of Scotland Yard, added: “It was clear that the group worked together and had a clear intention that day to target Tashaun.

“The actions towards him were brutal and violent and have robbed a family of their son and brother.

“Tashaun ran for his life and he was stabbed nine times – he stood no chance against his attackers who then left him lying in the street.

“Tashaun had a passion for recording and producing music and had his whole future ahead of him. Now a family have to deal with this loss for the rest of their lives.”

PA

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