Romain LaPierre was yesterday found guilty at the Old Bailey of the murder of 16-year-old Camron Smith, who was brutally stabbed to death in his own home on Bracken Avenue, on the Shrublands Estate in Shirley, in July 2021.
LaPierre and a gang of masked attackers chased the teenager through his home, eventually stabbing him to death in his mother’s bedroom. The prosecutor said that the gang who carried out the vicious attack on the unarmed youth were “out for blood”.
At the Central Criminal Court LaPierre, who is 20, said he was of no fixed abode. The jury found LaPierre also guilty of robbery relating to the car used in the attack.
A second suspect, Jordan Tcheuko, 19, from Wembley, was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.
Sako Amoniba-Burnley, 21, from Norbury, and a 16-year-old youth, who cannot be named, were found guilty of robbery.
Duncan Atkinson KC, prosecuting, said that had “unleashed a crime wave on the streets of Croydon” on the nights of June 30 and July 1 last year by entering two different houses and hijacking a taxi.
The jury was told how four of the defendants had set out in a stolen car and a moped in a revenge attack, after an associate of theirs was stabbed earlier that day. Armed with knives, the group began “effectively hunting as a pack” as they entered three homes in the area in “rapid succession”.
The jury had been told how the group met in Streatham, where they summoned a minicab. After a black Toyota Prius arrived, driver Mohammad Akhmat alleges he was robbed by a group of six males who held a knife to his throat, while one lent in through the driver’s window to snatch his phone. He claims he was forced to hand over his car, which later joined a convoy with two mopeds to carry out a search.
The jury heard that the first home in Selhurst Place was no longer the address of anyone that the group were looking for, and the occupant, Susan Weatherspoon, awoke to find a masked male in her bedroom.
She also claims she heard other voices before they fled and attempted to enter the second property in Armistice Gardens in South Norwood. The occupant there managed to prevent them from entering.
It was then that the gang set off for Shrublands.
Mr Atkinson KC had told the jury: “The occupant of the third address, in Bracken Avenue, was not so fortunate. The home of 16-year-old Camron Smith was entered by a masked, gloved and knife-carrying group, and there they brutally killed that young man. Unarmed and in his underwear, Camron Smith was stabbed in his mother’s bedroom as he sought to evade the group that had entered his address, out for blood and determined to cause at least really serious bodily harm.”
The court heard how Smith had attempted to shut himself and his mother in her bedroom, but had been unable to close the door. In testimony, Smith’s mother said she saw that two of the group were swinging “zombie knives” before they surrounded the schoolboy and attacked him.
Emergency services were called at 12.46am on July 1. Camron Smith was pronounced dead 45 minutes later.
The prosecutor told jurors that the “catalyst for this frenzy of aggressive behaviour” was the stabbing of an associate, which had taken place in Pawsons Road, Bensham Manor, at 3.50pm that day. Jurors heard that at the time of that stabbing, LaPierre and the gang’s 16-year-old had been with the associate who was injured.
Following the attack on Camron Smith, LaPierre called his father, when he is said to have claimed to be in serious trouble and needed to leave the country. Mr Atkinson said: “That to which he referred, the prosecution say, was that onslaught of aggressive behaviour that started with the robbery of Mohammed Akhmat and ended with the death of Camron Smith.”
The four defendants were arrested following an investigation involving CCTV, cell site evidence, eyewitness accounts and DNA analysis.
The court heard that a fifth male, Romario Gordon, is believed to have fled the country after boarding a flight from Heathrow to The Gambia on July 3, 2021.
Gordon’s mother, Allison Scott, appeared in the dock alongside the four defendants charged with assisting an offender. Jurors heard that the 55-year-old allegedly took her son to the airport while avoiding CCTV cameras, and that his flight had been booked using her email address. Yesterday, Scott, from Croydon, was acquitted of assisting an offender.
Sentencing of those found guilty will take place on December 2.
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