Judges quash Custom House teen’s ‘kill’ conviction

A teenager who was jailed after he was found guilty of playing part in the brutal killing of a 15-year-old outside a church event in Plaistow has had his conviction quashed.

A teenager who was jailed after he was found guilty of playing part in the brutal killing of a 15-year-old outside a church event in Plaistow has had his conviction quashed.

Stephen Lewis was stabbed through the heart in Plaistow after a group of youths gate-crashed a “back-to-school” party in January 2009.

Rissasy Nyimbi, 19, of Vanguard Close, Custom House, was convicted of manslaughter for his alleged role in the attack.

Chris Mazekelua, 18, from Hooper Road, Custom House, was jailed for life at the Old Bailey in November 2009 after he was found guilty of the youngster’s murder.


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Both appealed and, although Mazekelua’s challenge to the guilty verdict for murder was rejected, three senior judges overturned Nyimbi’s manslaughter conviction.

Teenager Stephen was murdered during a row outside the church hall in January 2009, in which a group of youths reportedly surrounded him shouting “shank him”.

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Lawyers for Nyimbi argued at the appeal hearing in April that the trial judge had been wrong to tell the jury that an anonymous witness had backed up the account of a witness known as Sule.

Sule’s account was that Nyimbi had joined in the fight while Stephen was being attacked, but the anonymous witness D did not support that, Lord Justice Moses, Mr Justice Keith and Judge Peter Collier QC were told.

“On the judge’s own view that it was ‘essential’ that the jury look for supporting evidence of Sule, we are driven to the conclusion that essential support was not to be found in the evidence of witness D.

“Now that we are in a position to appreciate the full nature of witness D’s evidence, it seems to us that the conviction for manslaughter was unsafe. There was no support for Sule’s evidence.”

Lawyers for Mazekelua had also criticised the evidence and the way the judge directed the jury, but Lord Justice Moses said his murder conviction was safe. He dismissed Mazekelua’s appeal.

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