Boys locked up for murdering 14-year-old Fares Maatou

Fares Maatou

Fares Maatou - Credit: MPS

Two teenagers have been sentenced for murdering 14-year-old Fares Maatou in Canning Town last year.

Fares was unarmed when he was stabbed in broad daylight after a fight involving a larger group in Barking Road on the afternoon of Friday, April 23.

Two boys, now aged 16 and who cannot be named for legal reasons, were found guilty of murder and detained for life on Wednesday (July 27) at the Old Bailey.

The youth who inflicted the fatal wound with a sword concealed inside a walking stick was handed a minimum term of 13 years.

His co-defendant, who hit Fares with the sheath, was locked up for at least 11 years.

Both defendants had a history of offending, with the former being subject to a youth rehabilitation order at the time of the murder.

Sentencing, Judge Sarah Munro QC said: “Fares was the light of his mother’s life. He was her youngest child and a well-behaved young man who had never been in any trouble.

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“Fares’s parents came to this country from Algeria to escape the violence that they had experienced there, only for them to lose their son on the streets of London where he had hoped he and his family would be safe.”

She told the defendants no punishment could undo the “irreparable harm” they had caused, adding there was no suggestion Fares was involved in any violence leading up to his death.

The court heard that Fares “offered no threat at all” and was trying to escape the defendants, who were aged 14 and 15 at the time.

In CCTV footage of the attack, Fares was seen to retreat as the sword was brandished.

Prosecutor Julian Evans QC said: “Fares was not holding anything. He was completely unarmed.

“Fares offered no threat at all to (the first boy), armed with a sword and advancing towards him, nor did he offer any threat at all to (the second boy), who was now carrying the sheath and was also moving forward towards Fares.”

The older boy then lunged at Fares – the first of three attempted blows with the sword – while the younger boy swung the sheath.

Mr Evans said: “Fares reacted by bringing both of his hands up towards his face and head to protect himself.

“As he, Fares, tried to escape, he turned his back on (the defendants) and he, Fares, moved away.

“Despite that action, (the defendants) continued to attack him.”

Fares was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr Evans said the weapon would “look like a walking stick” to passers-by.

The two defendants denied murder and claimed they acted in self-defence, but a jury found them guilty after a trial.

In a victim impact statement read to court, Fares’s mother Amel Maatou said the family had come to Britain to escape the “death and misery” of civil war in Algeria before he was born.

She said: “Fares never harmed anyone and was just a happy-go-lucky child.

“Everyone liked Fares, he liked everyone in return.

“Fares was never in trouble with the police and was not involved in gangs or crime. He had high hopes for his future.”

She said Fares loved cars and could have become a mechanic or engineer.

Mrs Maatou said the family came to Britain to be safe and she never thought her son would be taken away in London.

She added: “My family and I seek no vengeance. We seek justice and understanding for the death of Fares and hope the people who murdered him are held to account for their actions.”

Mrs Maatou and Fares’s siblings wiped away tears in court as the two defendants were sent down.

Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said her thoughts were with Fares' family.

"Fares had such a bright future ahead of him, and having spent time with the family since last year, Fares was adored by all those who knew him and everyone remains at a loss", Ms Fiaz added.

"As the case progressed in court, I thought constantly that for any young person who thinks violence is an option, it is not.

"I remain ever more resolved in tackling the violence facing our young people and keeping them safe through ongoing actions and investments so all are enabled to make positive life choices – not to cut life short."

Reporting by Press Association.