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UK

Senior judge hits out at knife culture

LONDON (Reuters) - A senior judge has criticised the growing knife culture for causing “death and devastation” as he sentenced a teenager for the fatal stabbing of a 15-year-old boy on a south London estate.

A policeman holds a lock knife at St Leonard's police station in Edinburgh, Scotland May 23, 2006. A senior judge has criticised the growing knife culture for causing "death and devastation" as he sentenced a teenager for the fatal stabbing of a 15-year-old boy on a south London estate. REUTERS/David Moir

Adu Sarpong, 19, from Kennington, used such force to kill rival gang member Alex Kamondo that the knife’s blade snapped off.

Judge Gerald Gordon said during sentencing at the Old Bailey on Friday that widespread knife crime, which has blighted English streets in recent months, “must be stopped”.

“It is the carrying and using -- often as here, for miniscule motives -- (of) such knifes that is causing death and devastation to families and that has got to be stopped,” he said.

Kamondo, a member of the “Man Dem Crew” from Brixton, confronted Sarpong, believed to be the leader of the “K Town Crew”, in Kennington, in a show of force over gangland turf just hours after he had finished his GCSE exams.

Sarpong, who went under the street name “Fame”, ambushed Kamondo later in the evening and during a fight between the two gangs, thrust a knife through the chest of the youngster, killing him with a single blow to the heart.

Judge Gordon told the court Sarpong had been carrying the knife for “perceived need”.

“Whatever the rights or wrongs (of the gang war), it pales into insignificance when compared with your conduct having used such knives against a 15 year-old in such a troubling way.”

He added: “His (Alex’s) death has, of course, brought tragedy to his family.”

Kamondo Mulumba, 49, and his wife, Vicky Ngongo Agamaka, had earlier said in a victim-impact statement read to the court: “Why was my son murdered with such venom and cold blood? Why him?”

Sarpong had claimed the death was the result of “friendly fire”, and denied he had even seen the fatal blow.

But he was convicted of murder last June and sentenced to life, with a minimum 14 years in youth custody.

Detective Inspector Andy Redwood, who led the investigation, said after the case: “At one end of this situation Alex Kamondo ... has lost his life -- at the other end Adu Sarpong ... has been convicted of murder and faces at least 14 years in prison.

“There is nothing cool or clear about either situation.”

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