Teen killers grin as they are jailed after stabbing schoolboy to death

Teenage killers grin as they are jailed for life after stabbing schoolboy, 14, to death with a sword hidden in a walking stick

  • Fares Maatou, 14, died after being stabbed with a concealed sword in April 2021
  • Two youths, 14 and 15 at the time, found guilty of murder and sentenced to life 
  • The elder boy will serve a minimum of 13 years and the younger at least 11 years
  • Grieving family paid tribute to murdered teen calling him the ‘light of their lives’  

Two teens grinned as they were sentenced to life in prison after they stabbed a schoolboy to death with a sword concealed inside a walking stick. 

Fares Maatou, 14, died after being confronted and stabbed by the two teens on Barking Road in Canning Town, east London, on Friday 23 April last year. 

The two boys, who cannot be named, were 14 and 15 years old at the time of the attack involving the cane which had been taken from the younger boy’s grandfather without his knowledge. 

Fares, who died just days before his 15th birthday, ‘offered no threat at all’ and was trying to escape the defendants, jurors were told during the trial. 

The pair, now both aged 16, denied murder but were convicted by a unanimous jury earlier this month. They were detained for life on Wednesday (July 27) at the Old Bailey. 

Fares Maatou, 14, (pictured) died after being confronted and stabbed by the two teens on Barking Road in Canning Town, east London , on Friday 23 April last year 

The teen who inflicted the fatal wound was handed a minimum term of 13 years while his co-defendant, who hit Fares with the sheath of the sword before fleeing the scene, 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. 

The pair went to a police station to turn themselves in a few days after the incident but one of them ran away before officers came out to meet them.  

Judge Sarah Munro QC told the defendants no punishment could undo the ‘irreparable harm’ they had caused, and said there was no suggestion Fares was involved in any violence leading up to his death.

In CCTV footage of the attack, Fares was seen to retreat when the older youth brandished the sword. Prosecutor Julian Evans QC said during the trial: ‘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.

‘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.’

The victim briefly managed to get to his feet once the attack stopped but he lost his footing again and fell against a parked car nearby.

In a victim impact statement read to court, Fares’s mother Amel Maatou said the family came to Britain to escape the ‘death and misery’ of civil war in Algeria. 

The younger of the two killers beat the aspiring engineer with the black metal cane which was used to conceal a sword – secretly taken from his grandfather’s home (the sword is pictured)

She described her youngest child as ‘the light of [her] and [her] family’s life.’ 

‘Fares never harmed anyone and was just a happy-go-lucky child,’ she said. ‘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 added that he had loved cars and could have gone on to become a mechanic or an engineer.

‘Me and my family did our best to keep Fares safe and to keep him away from bad people and bad company,’ she said. ‘Until 23 April we succeeded in this.

‘I have seen death and experienced misery and loss. My family and I left Algeria due to the Civil War there and I have friends and family who died there.

‘We came to Great Britain because I wanted my friends and family to be safe and not to be killed for their beliefs or religion.

‘Never did I believe my son would be taken away from me I this way while living in London. He came here to escape murder and rape and killing.

‘I grieve and mourn Fares’ death every day and I ask myself could I have done anything to prevent it.

‘How was I to know that when I said goodbye to him on that Friday afternoon I would never see him again and, when I would next see him, he would by lying dead in a morgue.

‘This pain and loss of Fares does not compare to anything that has gone before or will come in future.’

Fares’s sister, Amira Maatou, told the court her father had been put into an induced coma after contracting coronavirus. He woke at the end of March and saw his son for the last time just two days before he was killed. 

The younger boy continued beat Fares with the casing of the swordstick (pictured, the sheath)

‘Before leaving, Fares gave his father a kiss on the cheek, then returned and gave him a second one,’ she told the court. 

‘Come home soon dad, we miss you’ he said.’

In a letter addressed to the judge and read to the court, one of the defendants said: ‘I lie awake at night thinking about how [Maatou’s] mother will never see him again. 26 seconds can change everything.

‘I want to say to the family of Fares that I am sorry for their loss [but] I am not sure I will ever be forgiven by them.

‘What hurt me most is not the fact that I have been found guilty of murder, but the fact that the family of Fares will never see their son or their brother again.

‘Every time they would leave the court because they couldn’t watch the footage of the incident it gave me a sickening feeling.

‘My family has lost me to prison and Fares’ family has lost him to death.’

Francis Fitzgibbon, defending the 15-year-old said: ‘His siblings include a trainee lawyer and a medical researcher, so they are an ambitious family.

‘It’s a tragedy for them that he cannot join in their ambitions.

Jennifer Dempster, defending the other killer, said: ‘Trouble visited the defendants that day, not the other way around and that has an impact on the fact that this was an incident which took place in daylight, on a busy street.’

Sentencing, Judge Munro said to the teens: ‘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.

‘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.’

‘The lives of Fares’ parents and siblings have been changed forever. They feel as though they have failed Fares, but of course they have not.

Friends and family left floral tributes and balloons outside the scene on Barking Road

‘There is no punishment I can give the two of you which can bring Fares back or undo the irreparable damage you caused on that afternoon.

‘All I can do is recognise the dignity and courage with which they sat through your trial and the strength they showed as the CCTV of the last moments of Fares’ life were played over and over.

‘Neither of you knew Fares and there is no suggestion whatsoever that Fares was involved in any incident of violence involving you or anyone else.

‘Both the sword and the sheath were bent due to the force of the blows which were delivered.

Judge Munro described Fares as ‘defenceless and totally unable to defend himself from the joint attack’ and ordered both boys be detained for life. 

Both boys smiled as they were led to the cells while Mrs Maatou and Fares’s siblings wiped away tears. 

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