A teenager has been sentenced to life imprisonment for stabbing the manager of a Matalan store during a failed robbery attempt.
Kobina Essel, 19, was found guilty last month of the murder of Jamie Simpson, 33, manager of the store in Kingsland shopping centre in Dalston, in March 2008. Today he was told he would spend at least 20 years behind bars.
At the Old Bailey, Judge Martin Stephens said: “This case demonstrates in a vivid way the horrors of knife crime and the terrible consequences to the victim, his family and friends and to society as a whole.
He told Essel: “You went into this with your eyes open. You went in with a knife and you did not hesitate to use it.”
Essel, who claimed he reacted out of ‘panic’, was also given 11 years’ detention for conspiracy to rob. Essel and his fellow gang members lay in wait for Mr Simpson with the intention of stealing the shop’s weekend takings of an estimated £20,000.
Three other men were convicted of manslaughter in connection with Mr. Simpson’s murder: Anthony Maina, 20, Randy Osei-Owusu, 17, and Simeon Jumah, 25.
Maina, who played a critical role in the robbery was on bail for murder at the time of the killing. Five months earlier he had stabbed an A-level student to death for a mobile phone.
Maina will serve a minimum of six years for manslaughter and five years for robbery. This time will be served concurrently with a life sentence for the murder of 17-year-old Rizwan Darbar.
Judge Stephens said Maina posed a significant risk of serious harm to members of the public.
The remaining gang member who were found guilty of conspiracy to rob the Matalan store, were also sentenced today.
Roy Williams, 31, was jailed for ten years. A friend of Mr Simpson and a security guard, he was the gang’s “inside man”.
The judge told him: “Your involvement was even more despicable because you were in breach of trust.”
Jammal Chambers, 18, and Duane Owusue, 20, who was the getaway driver, were given seven and eight years respectively.
Mr. Simpson’s mother, Lorna Simpson, paid tribute to her son after the verdicts were announced: “If you talk to anybody who knows him, they haven’t got a bad word to say about him.”