Teenager fatally stabbed on bus in Stratford ‘was not hunted down’, court hears

Baptista Adeji, 15, from North Woolwich. Picture: Met Police

Baptista Adeji, 15, from North Woolwich. Picture: Met Police - Credit: Met Police

A schoolboy did not “hunt down” a teenager who was fatally stabbed on a bus, a court has heard.

Baptista Adeji, 15, was attacked while on a 641 bus with friends in Stratford last October.

A boy boarded carrying a “large knife” and stabbed Baptista twice following a series of taunts exchanged on social media, the Old Bailey heard today (Tuesday, August 4).

A friend of the St Bonaventure’s pupil was also stabbed but survived. Two 16-year-old boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, deny murder.

Jennifer Dempster QC, defending the youth who admits to attacking Baptista, told jurors: “The Crown’s case is characterised as a hunt.

“It is an attractive line but it is just not what the evidence reveals.

“Whatever happened that afternoon, it was not borne out of some plan to hunt down Baptista.”

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Ms Dempster said the defendant met Baptista by chance. She added her client “must be an idiot” if he planned an attack on a bus and in a town centre which were both covered by CCTV, as the prosecution alleges.

On whether the youngster wanted to seriously injure, jurors heard that the boy did not chase Baptista after he got off the bus or when he collapsed on the ground.

The court heard that 90 minutes after Baptista was attacked, Ms Dempster’s client appeared “serious and focused” in a meeting with his social worker. He was not “his usual smirky, teenage self”, jurors heard.

Ms Dempster asked if that was consistent with someone whose aim had just been achieved or with a young boy who has just done something he “absolutely didn’t want or intend”.

The court heard that when the youth confessed to his mother, he said: “I did not mean for this to happen” and agreed with her to hand himself in. While at the police station the boy was seen crying.

Ms Dempster, in her closing statement, reminded jurors that Baptista’s death started with an exchange in a Snapchat group.

Baptista allegedly confronted Ms Dempster’s client to defend a friend and received the reply: “If you’ve got no bodies on your blade, leave the group chat.”

Baptista allegedly replied: “Shut up. You’ll be the first.”

After the threat, the defendant started carrying a knife with him all the time, jurors heard.

Ms Dempster said: “The trouble with threats being uttered about stabbing and killing people is that there is always a risk that the person you are threatening will take the threat seriously. You take the risk when you post things like this on social media.

“For some it could be water off a duck’s back. But for others it may entirely consume them. It may frighten them. It may affect them deeply.

“If they’ve grown up in a community where violence is a real danger, then perhaps even more so,” she added.

Kerim Fuad QC, defending the second boy - who is alleged to have tipped off the first about where Baptista was - said there is no evidence his client knew what was going to unfold on the bus.

Mr Fuad said his client wasn’t angry, agitated or wound up when he saw Baptista get on the service. Nor did he ring the co-defendant about “this supposedly deadly plot”.

“It never was a plot, because plots involve planning,” Mr Fuad said.

He added his client could not have been acting as lookout from the bus because he had his back to the window.

A further example of his innocence, Mr Fuad said, is he made no attempt to disguise himself.

The fact that he did not at first admit to having a knife on him was down to his “immaturity” and “lack of courage”, jurors heard.

There was also no evidence from witnesses that the teenager, who chose to give evidence at the trial, knew the attack was to happen. He was upstairs while Baptista was stabbed during the attack, which lasted nine seconds, on the lower deck.

“He had no reason to harm Baptista,” Mr Fuad said.

Judge John Hillen, addressing jury members, said: “Baptista’s family have lost a loved one. Baptista has had his life cut short.

“Two young teenagers were, on their own admission, carrying vicious weapons. One of those teenagers admits he killed Baptista.

“Both are on trial for the most serious of criminal cases.

“You would not be human if you did not find that distressful.”

But he urged them to put feelings aside to reach their verdict.

The trial continues.