A 14-year-old boy believed to be Britain’s youngest defendant convicted of a gun murder has been handed a life sentence and ordered to serve at least 16 years behind bars.
Yussuf Mustapha, who turned 14 just three weeks before he shot and killed Birmingham schoolboy Keon Lincoln, can now be named in media reports after a judge lifted an order protecting his identity.
Passing sentence on Mustapha and four other teenagers convicted of killing Keon, Lord Justice William Davis said the 14-year-old had shown a clear intent to kill when he opened fire at close range.
Mustapha and the other youths who carried out the killing were branded “heartless, evil monsters” by Keon’s mother in a victim personal statement read to Birmingham Crown Court on Monday.
Sharmaine Lincoln said the killing of her 15-year-old son had left her feeling like “a piece of my soul has been taken from me”.
Passing sentence on Keon’s killers on Monday, Lord Justice William Davis said at least five offenders who arrived at the murder scene had been party to the use of a revolver.
A five-week trial was told Keon suffered eight sharp force injuries and a fatal gunshot injury to his abdomen outside his home in Linwood Road, Handsworth, Birmingham.
The teenager, who was shot while on the ground, died in Birmingham Children’s Hospital having been attacked with knives and fired at twice at about 3.35pm on January 21.
The judge told Italy-born gunman Mustapha, who has no previous convictions, that the material before the court indicated he had lived “a decent life with his family” prior to the murder.
The judge said: “According to the pre-sentence report he has been able at times to show a maturity in advance of his age.
“Certainly there is no indication that he is immature for his age or that he suffers from any behavioural issues which might have led to the events of January 21.
“I am invited in the report to consider the extent to which he may have been acting impulsively and whether his conduct may have been affected by emotional volatility or negative influences. I have done so.
“The offence was not impulsive or the result of volatility.
“I have no evidence of negative influences other than the fact that the other defendants were older than him.”
The judge said the only mitigating factor in Mustapha’s case was his age “given that, for someone of his age, many years in custody will appear, literally, to be a lifetime”.
Prior to sentence, the court was told Mustapha and Keon went to the same school and they had “appeared to get on reasonably well together”.
Mustapha’s barrister, Adam Kane QC, told the judge his client was from a loving family and had been doing well at school, academically and in sport.
Mr Kane submitted: “When a boy of 14 years and three weeks commits an offence so transgressive as this one, it is plain that the decision-making process, the making of choices and thought of consequences… have gone grossly wrong – and have been affected by grossly wrong influences.”
Mustapha’s co-defendants Tahjgeem Breakenridge, 18, and Michael Ugochukwu, 18, were both sentenced to life for murder with a minimum term of 19 years.
Meanwhile, a 16-year-old Walsall youth also convicted of Keon’s murder, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was ordered to be detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure and to serve at least 17 years.
Kieron Donaldson, 19, was sentenced to a 12-year custodial term for Keon’s manslaughter, having supplied weapons to those involved in the killing.
Donaldson was told he will be entitled to release after serving two-thirds of the sentence.
During the hearing Keon’s mother submitted a statement to the court in which she said she was “in a nightmare that I cannot wake up from”.
In the statement, read to the court by prosecution barrister Michael Burrows QC, the victim’s mother, who witnessed her son lying injured in the street after hearing gunfire, said: “The gunshots will forever ring in my ears, knowing that one of them ultimately ended my son’s life.
“No reason for me can ever justify such an evil act.”
Donaldson, of Aston Lane, Perry Barr, was cleared of murder but convicted of unlawful killing after denying that he had assisted or encouraged any of Keon’s attackers.
Mustapha; the 16-year-old defendant; Breakenridge, of Oldfield Road, Balsall Heath, and Ugochukwu, of Twyning Road, Edgbaston, all denied playing any part in the killing.
London Evening Standard