Nashon Esbrand murder: Young dad’s knife killers jailed for life over ‘quick, ruthless’ attack in Canonbury street

PUBLISHED: 13:21 25 June 2018 | UPDATED: 14:41 25 June 2018

A family photo of Nashon Esbrand. Picture: family of Nashon Esbrand

A family photo of Nashon Esbrand. Picture: family of Nashon Esbrand


Nashon Esbrand’s killers were this afternoon sentenced to a combined 54 years for last year’s “ruthless” murder in Canonbury.

Dillon Zambon. Picture: Met PoliceDillon Zambon. Picture: Met Police

At the Old Bailey hearing, Dillon Zambon, 20, was handed a life sentence with a minimum of 21 years. Jhon Berhane, 18, got the same. And a 16-year-old boy (“Defendant 3”) who carried out the fatal knife blows was sentenced to a minimum 12 years.

“Family man” Nashon, 27, was hunted, cornered and stabbed to death in Mitchison Road – yards from his parents’ house – on August 24 last year. He had become a dad for the first time nine days earlier.

The family had been forced to endure four separate delays to the sentencing case. Zambon didn’t attend on Monday last week, causing the fourth delay, and he was absent again today because he was “feeling sick”.

Two people also involved in the attack still haven’t been tracked down.

Jailed: Jhon Berhane. Picture: Met PoliceJailed: Jhon Berhane. Picture: Met Police

Speaking to the Gazette after the hearing, Nashon’s brother Mark Barton said: “It’s tiring. I still don’t feel satisfied but at least it’s closure. Our next step is looking for justice for the two other people involved in this.

“We’d like to thank the jury, judge and police for their hard work. And our friends, family and communities of Islington and Hackney. We wouldn’t have got through this without them.”

Of Zambon’s no-show, Mark added: “It shows his lack of remorse. It shows he has no consideration for anybody.”

Passing sentence in Zambon’s absence, judge Anuja Dhir told Berhane and Defendant 3 in the dock: “It was a coordinated, brazen attack. It was quick and ruthless. You as a group acted together with a common purpose.

A family photo of Nashon Esbrand. Picture: family of Nashon EsbrandA family photo of Nashon Esbrand. Picture: family of Nashon Esbrand

“One of the stab wounds was so deep, 17.5cm, that it perforated an artery and Nashon died. He was the son of Princess Barton and Desmond Esbrand. Princess says ‘my son was like my friend’. He was murdered on the street where she lives. Not surprisingly, she no longer wants to live on that street.

“You were intent on attacking one man, who was outnumbered, unarmed and on foot. He didn’t stand a chance.

“Whoever was carrying the knife, you were acting together. There’s no distinction – you were all equally involved.”

The trial, in March, heard how Nashon was chased by Zambon, Berhane and Defendant 3 on bicycles – and the two other males who have not been found – because he had spoken to police about a previous incident.

Police at the murder scene in Mitchison Road, Canonbury, in August last year. Picture: James MorrisPolice at the murder scene in Mitchison Road, Canonbury, in August last year. Picture: James Morris

Defendant 3, then 15, inflicted the fatal stab wounds to the back of Nashon’s legs with a machete-style blade. He admitted murder before the trial started in March.

Zambon and Berhane denied the charge but were convicted by the jury on March 26.

The court today heard Zambon was part of a smash and grab moped robbery of a jeweller’s in Norwich in August 2015. He was sentenced to three years in a young offender’s institution in October that year.

Judy Khan, defending Zambon before sentence was passed, pointed to evidence given in the trial that he left the scene during the attack and said he never intended for Nashon to be killed. Zambon was one of two males who initially chased Nashon up Essex Road before he was cornered in Mitchison Road.

Nashon Esbrand. Picture: Ange DouaNashon Esbrand. Picture: Ange Doua

Berhane was convicted in February for his part in kidnapping and assaulting a man in Whitechapel the day after Nashon’s murder. Today’s murder sentence incorporated those offences. In October last year, he was also convicted for aggravated vehicle taking. Berhane was one of five males in a vehicle that ploughed into pedestrians outside the Old Queens Head pub in Essex Road in March that year.

Philippa McAtasney, Berhane’s defence lawyer, said: “His entire childhood has been particularly harsh. It was an unhappy and extremely beleaguered background. His father was killed and he never saw him. His mother had a particularly difficult life.

“His IQ is extremely low and in our submission stood little chance of resisting this criminal lifestyle.”

Edward Henry, for Defendant 3, said: “He has taken a life, bitterly regretting that stupidity, that madness, that allowed him to accept that knife.

The murder scene in Mitchison Road, Canonbury, in August last year. Picture: James MorrisThe murder scene in Mitchison Road, Canonbury, in August last year. Picture: James Morris

“It’s pathetic to point out that with regular meals in the past nine months [while in custody], he has grown almost six inches. Physically and mentally, he was more immature than his chronological age.

“His emotional life was stunted by trauma, punctuated by screaming, shouting and instances of domestic violence. His background was far from normal.”

Meanwhile, judge Dhir rejected an application to name Defendant 3, saying he had suffered a “traumatic childhood” and was suffering post traumatic stress disorder.

“There is a real risk,” she said, “that identifying him might cause him harm in his rehabilitation.”

Judge Dhir said there may also have been a risk of “reprisals” during his detention if he was named.

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