A gang of youths has been convicted of killing a “kind and innocent” young man with the mental age of nine in a knife-point mugging caught on graphic CCTV film.
Dean Mayley was stabbed in the heart by 17-year-old Jamal Jones for refusing to hand over his mobile phone to a group of robbers who stopped him as he walked home in Greenford, west London, on the afternoon of February 7.
The 24-year-old had learning difficulties due to a brain disorder called Microcephaly and probably did not fully understand what the teenagers wanted, jurors were told.
Jones was found guilty of murder, while his three accomplices were found guilty of manslaughter.
Mayley’s mother Donna sat through weeks of harrowing evidence at the Old Bailey and was visibly shocked and tearful after watching footage of the moment her son was fatally injured.
The CCTV showed three shadowy hooded figures go up to Mr Mayley and confront him before one of them lashes out with a blade.
The victim then staggered and collapsed in the road as members of the public rushed to help. He died later in hospital.
The prosecution said while only Jones, from Acton, west London, wielded the knife, all four played a part in the attempted robbery and killing.
Miguel Leiba, also 17, from Hanwell, and Ryan Beresford, 19, blocked the victim’s path and Michael Mensah, 18, drove them to and from the scene, the prosecution said.
Beresford, of Acton, and Mensah, of Greenford, along with Leiba denied murder, but were convicted of manslaughter. All three were also found guilty of the attempted robbery of Mr Mayley.
Mensah was found guilty of an earlier robbery on January 28.
Mrs Mayley wept as the verdicts were delivered after around four hours and the defendants wailed in the dock.
In his defence, Jones admitted he had tried to rob Mr Mayley but denied he had meant to harm him.
He told jurors: “He was getting fidgety. His hands were in his pockets. He was looking straight into my eyes. Ryan and Miguel – I noticed them coming back towards me. I asked them ‘are you going to get involved?’ but they just stood there.
“I asked him again ‘just give me your phone’. He shrugged and said ‘what are you going to do about it?’.
“And then I just literally panicked. I did not know what to do and I’m thinking ‘is this guy going to hit me?’ because of his body language.
“I thrust out first. I hit him first – I did not intend to hurt him. I just meant to do a slice and that’s it. I just ended up getting paranoid and he was getting aggressive towards me.”
He said he had been made to look after the knife earlier in the day by another boy who approached him in college.
But prosecutor Simon Denison QC said all four youths had told lies about what happened on the day of the murder.
He said: “These four were a team of knife-point robbers driving up and down the Ruislip Road looking for a victim or victims. That is why Dean Mayley was targeted, not just by Jamal Jones but by all of them.”
Mensah wrote a menacing letter to Jones in a bid persuade him not to implicate him in the murder while they were awaiting trial.
He ordered the knifeman not to say that he had given him the murder weapon or that he told him to carry out the attempted robbery.
The letter read: “Why do they think I gave you the nank (knife) and persuaded you? They can’t say that without proof.
“As long as you say that boy at college gave it to you and forgot to take it back off you.”
A court heard a search of Jones’s bedroom uncovered a kitchen knife stashed under his mattress and a meat cleaver on top of his wardrobe.
The jury was also told about Mensah’s previous convictions over the possession of knives.
On September 21 last year, police discovered a five-inch jagged blade in his trainer and a samurai sword in the boot of his Fiat Punto.
Then on January 12 this year, Mensah was stopped in his car again and underneath the driver’s seat police found a lock knife.
Just days before the attack on Mr Mayley, Mensah was involved in the mugging of a 15-year-old boy who was forced to hand over his North Face bodywarmer and mobile phone in the same area, the court heard.
In the earlier incident, Mensah was alleged to have driven unidentified robbers to the scene in his car.
Lifting an order banning the naming of Jones and Leiba, judge Martyn Zeidman QC said: “The more people who realise the horror of knife crime, the better.”
Adjourning sentencing until October 2, he said: “Yet another example of a kind and innocent person losing their life because of somebody else using a knife.
“For somebody to lose their life in these circumstances is a disaster. There are no sufficient words to demonstrate the sadness. I want to pay tribute to the family who have shown such courage at difficult times throughout this trial. I just wish there was some way – obviously there isn’t – in which I could turn the clock back.”
He said the defendants would be in custody for a “very, very, long time”. But he ordered reports on all of them so he could assess their risk to the public in the future.
Following the guilty verdicts, investigating officer Detective Inspector Mark Lawson said: “I’m absolutely delighted with today’s verdicts.
“I think it sends a clear message that if you are armed with a knife and prepared to use a knife, you have got to accept the consequences of your actions.
“I feel desperately sorry for Dean’s family. I have no doubt that whilst the four defendants were not aware of his mental age, he was deliberately targeted.
“We know that these four youths had carried out a number of robberies in the Greenford area before this tragic murder but unfortunately the victims were too scared to come forward.”