The killer of a 14-year-old boy on London Road in 2021 is ‘a habitual knife carrier’ who six weeks before the murder was arrested on a bus in Croydon and found to be in possession of ‘a very large zombie-style knife’
Marques Walker, now aged 17, was yesterday sentenced at the Old Bailey to life imprisonment for the vicious murder of Jermaine Cools on London Road, opposite West Croydon railway station, in November 2021.
Jermaine Cools was only 14 at the time.
In an unusual departure, the Central Criminal Court decided to broadcast the judge’s sentencing, in the hope that the gravity of the consequences of Walker’s actions may actually deter others from carrying knives and weapons.
Sentencing, Judge Sarah Munro said: “This is yet another case of a senseless murder for reasons that no adult can fathom.”
Walker had earlier pleaded guilty to murder and a separate charge of GBH, for an attack he carried out on a fellow prisoner when being held on remand at HMP Feltham.
Judge Munro sentenced Walker to life in prison. Walker will not be able to apply for parole before 2042 at the earliest.
Not that that brings any consolation to the devastated faily of Jermaine Cools.
“We cannot ignore the fact that children are dying on the streets of London as a result of knife crime,” a senior police detective said after the sentencing yesterday.
The weapon used in the attack has been described as a machete. The police released footage from CCTV cameras of the cold-blooded assault which left a teenaged boy with fatal wounds. Walker, from Jennifer Road, Bromley, was also known to have possessed a range of “zombie” knives and other weapons.
“Walker was able to obtain knife after knife,” said senior investigating officer Superintendent Richard Vandenbergh.
“Anyone seeing the pictures of those weapons police seized from him in the months leading up to the killing of Jermaine should be concerned that weapons like this seem so readily available to young men.”
At his sentencing, the court was told that Walker was a victim of modern slavery. He ran away from home at a young age and was recruited into criminal county line gangs. The court heard that Walker had seen the murder of his father and cousin.
The court heard that at 6.41pm on November 18, 2021, a member of the public reported a large fight outside a chicken shop on London Road.
The victim, Jermaine Cools, was with a group of youths who were fighting in a shop doorway.
While the fight was going on, Walker was caught on CCTV calmly walking towards the group and drawing a large knife. Cools was now on the floor and Walker ran towards him.
Walker was seen to repeatedly lunge with the knife, while Cools rolled on the ground frantically trying to avoid being stabbed.
The defendant fled, and was captured on CCTV running through the streets of Croydon still carrying the knife.
A member of the public approached Cools, who was bleeding heavily, and helped him into a car and drove him to hospital where the boy was to die from his injuries at 7.50pm.
CAUTION: the following video is CCTV of the attack on Jermaine Cools, as released by the Metropolitan Police. Its contents are shocking and disturbing
A special post mortem took place at Croydon University Hospital on November 20, 2021. Cools was found to have suffered seven stab wounds to his body – the fatal wound was one to his chest which had pierced a lung.
A murder investigation was underway immediately, and Walker was quickly identified from CCTV enquiries.
Walker, although only a teenager, already had form as what the Met describe as “a habitual knife carrier”.
He told police that he always carries knives as without one he feels like he’s walking towards his death, the court heard.
He had one conviction for possession of an offensive weapon, a 10-inch knife which he had taken on to school premises. He had also been arrested multiple times; on April 12, 2021, he was found in possession of a large knife and again arrested.
On October 16, 2021, he was arrested on a bus in Croydon and found to be in possession of “a very large zombie-style knife”, according to the Met. He was charged with possession of an offensive weapon and bailed by the Magistrates’ Court. Six weeks later he murdered Jermaine Cools.
Two and a half hours after the attack, Walker arrived back at his home in Bromley. He had taken a taxi.
In the early hours of the morning he told his mother he was going out to buy snacks. When he didn’t return, she noticed some clothing was missing and checked his iPad.
She found that he had searched “Croydon stabbing today” and on Snapchat one friend told him: “Now dash this phone fam, get a new phone, dash the phone and your clothing, the trainers, and the whole shebang.”
The police manhunt lasted for nearly six weeks until, on December 27, Walker was arrested, almost by accident, when officers went to an address in Upper Norwood about an unrelated matter.
Walker was found inside, hiding behind a bed. After giving a false name, Walker was arrested at 4.03pm on December 27 2021 for an unrelated matter.
It was while on the way to the police station that he finally provided his real name and was then further arrested for murder, and was charged.
Jermaine Cool’s family said: “Jermaine could talk to anybody. He was our best friend and the one who always made our day even when we were down. He would come down and talk to us. When he was taken away it took the life from us all.
“The night of 18th November 2021 was the first time we as a family returned home without Jermaine. Every day since that point we have ceased living and merely just existed. Our family home used to be filled with love, laughter and happiness. It is now just a sad and empty house filled with suffering. Memories is all we have left.”
In April 2022, a guard at Feltham Youth Offenders’ Institution was going through Marques Walker’s property when he discovered rap lyrics:
“I had young stardawg doing roley poley but now den I had to duck from police on me
cah I left him deceased and I done high knees”
Stardawg was the street name for one of Jermaine’s relatives.
The “lyrics” continue: “We had mummzy grieving; I left mandem spleeching; I had mandem looking at his wounds like shit den I think I’m bleeding”
The GBH offence occurred in July last year, when Walker was on remand at Feltham during an exercise period. Together with three others, Walker attacked another inmate, kicking and stamping on him, and needing life-saving surgery for the brain injuries inflicted.
Walker was heard to say, “Finish him off” before being pulled away by prison officers.
After the sentencing, Supt Vandenbergh, said: “Jermaine was only 14 years old when he was stabbed to death, he was a child and we cannot ignore the fact that children are dying on the streets of London as a result of knife crime.
“Jermaine’s family have been left devastated, a child with his whole life ahead of him has had it brutally snatched away. Jermaine’s family have spoken out about knife crime and I hope that their courage in speaking out may stop another family losing a child to this evil crime.
“Walker was able to obtain knife after knife. Anyone seeing the pictures of those weapons police seized from him in the months leading up to the killing of Jermaine should be concerned that weapons like this seem so readily available to young men.”
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The culture of casual extreme violence that so many young men seem to be growing up in is a tragedy for all concerned. What sort of life will they have when they are released having spent half their life behind bars.