A teenager has been jailed for 14 years for stabbing a young man to death at a busy shopping centre. Bhoniefas Rexson, 19, pleaded guilty on Tuesday, March 15, to the manslaughter of 21-year-old Gedeon Ngwendema at Brent Cross shopping centre in northwest London.
The victim was fatally stabbed during a confrontation outside a JD Sports shop on the evening of May 4 last year. He was attacked less than three minutes after arriving with a friend at 6.40pm, prosecutor Caroline Carberry QC said.
She told the court: “Brent Cross centre has multiple cameras in place that capture the arrival of both parties. The footage shows that the shopping centre was busy at that time with members of the public.
“In respect of the meeting, there is no evidence to suggest the two young men knew one another but it is likely from what we see from the footage that they recognised each other and their meeting appears to be by chance.”
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(Image: David Nathan/999London)
The victim received a single fatal wound during the “fast-moving and dynamic” incident, she said. Immediately afterwards, Rexson ran back into JD Sports, the court heard.
Meanwhile, Mr Ngwendema stumbled towards Marks and Spencer and collapsed on the concourse. He was heard by shoppers to say: “I’ve been duked (stabbed). Someone get me an ambulance.”
The victim had suffered a stab wound to the chest which pierced his heart, causing a cardiac arrest. Despite the best efforts of paramedics, they were unable to save his life and he was tragically pronounced dead at the scene.
Several family members gave emotional victim impact statements, in which they spoke of Gedeon’s humour, generosity and loyalty towards his loved ones. His older sister explained that the close-knit family had come from a religious household, and her brother, an aspiring personal trainer, had delayed his ambitions of going to university in order to care for his parents and sister, who were unwell.
She recalled: “I was home alone with the kids when I saw the tweet on social media. My babies watched me as I was screaming on the floor. I then identified my baby’s brother’s body, his face looked peaceful just as he did when he would fall asleep on the sofa. We were told Gedeon’s last words were ‘I’m only 21’.”
“It is hard for me to stand here today – yes he was kind, yes he was protective of his friends and family, he was ambitious and a loving family man, yes he was funny and had big teeth that showed when he laughed, but also to remember him as a person, a living, breathing person – who had a history and a future, a bright future that was taken away from him.”
Meanwhile, Gedeon’s mum told his killer that she forgave him, but wanted him to know that he had “hurt her” by taking away her son’s life.
The court heard that on being detained by security guards, Rexson claimed someone punched him so he punched back, saying it was a “case of mistaken identity”. The court was told that the violence was gang-related.
The teen was a well-known member of the Original Kingsbury Boys and Thugs 4 Life and had previous convictions for possession of weapons. At the time of the attack, he was on bail in relation to the murder of 16-year-old Drekwon Patterson on February 18. Gedeon, however, was not known to have associations with gang groups and was not armed.
Judge Anthony Leonard QC said the “appalling” violence in front of adults and children at Brent Cross came after Rexson told a friend at Wormwood Scrubs prison he was looking for a knife “for the ride”. The teenager searched the internet for a shop selling knives and, less than 35 minutes later, had one tucked into his tracksuit bottoms in the busy shopping centre.
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Rexson, of Kingsbury, northwest London, had been due to go on trial at the Old Bailey for murder, before pleading guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter. Ms Carberry said the plea by reason of loss of control was accepted following “careful and anxious” consideration and consultation with the victim’s family.
She said: “It is accepted there is a fear by this defendant that he would be seriously hurt and that this defence is available to him.”
Judge Leonard said it was a matter for the Crown but expressed “deep reservations”.
He said: “I know about the gang background. I know the defendant went to the internet to look for an appropriate knife to have that day, that he must have bought it almost immediately before this attack. I have seen the CCTV and all that gives me grave reservations.”
He added: “To my mind, it ought to be tested by a jury.”
During his sentencing remarks, Judge Leonard told him: “I accept you have been subject to attacks in the past with serious violence – this is inevitable as a gang member. There is no evidence the deceased was responsible for that violence.”
The judge sentenced Rexson to 14 years imprisonment, with 10 months in jail for possession of the blade to run concurrently with the manslaughter sentence.
He ordered a charge of murder to lie on court file, after the lesser plea was accepted by the Crown.
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DCI Linda Bradley, Specialist Crime, who led the homicide investigation said: “There are clearly no winners in this case. The tragedy of Gedeon’s death has remained with me throughout this investigation, and again today I wish to express my team’s heartfelt sympathies to his family.
“Rexson has also paid a significant price for what he has admitted was a loss of control. There is no doubt in my mind that his gang lifestyle was the reason for his appalling actions that evening.
“I also want to pay tribute to the security staff and management of the Brent Cross Shopping Centre, for their initial response to the incident and subsequent support for the investigation. I am very grateful to them.”