Three Islington men face retrial over footballer murder
THREE Islington men accused of murdering a promising teenage footballer are facing a retrial after a jury failed to reach a verdict - but their alleged accomplice has been jailed for life.
Daniel Riley, 22, of Caledonian Road, Holloway, Koffi Osimeh, 20, of Heron Drive, Finsbury Park, and Matthew Lanihun, 20, of Megan Court, Holloway, were accused of the being part of a gang who knifed 17-year-old Godwin Lawson to death as he tried to protect a friend being attacked.
The trio admitted being at the scene of the killing near Stamford Hill station along with their friend Moise Avorgah. But while the jury could not decide whether they had committed murder, Avorgah was convicted after 21 hours and 45 minutes of deliberation.
Avorgah, 20, of St Ann’s Road, South Tottenham, was also fund guilty of two counts of wounding with intent for stabbing Godwin’s friends Julian and Daniel Borja.
All four men were cleared of attempting to murder the Borja brothers, but the jury was unable to agree on charges of wounding with intent against Lanihun, Osimeh and Riley.
Jailing Avorgah for life with a minimum of 19 years at the Old Bailey this afternoon, Judge Gerald Gordon said: “The verdicts of the jury must mean that you started this attack and that you inflicted some and probably all of the injuries that resulted to the three victims.
“You had and wielded a knife which they have found you brought to the scene.
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“The jury were not satisfied that you killed Godwin Lawson actually intending to kill him although clearly you did so intending to cause really serious harm to someone.
“It is as a result of your actions that he aged 17 has lost his life, a tragedy inevitably causing the devastation to the lives of his family.
“You also caused serious injuries to the two Borjas. Mercifully they appear both to have made a good recovery physically.”
CCTV cameras caught Godwin staggering across the road in Amhurst Park with a fatal wound to the heart, before collapsing on the pavement.
He was visiting friends on a weekend trip home from the Oxford United FC Academy on March 27 last year when he and the Borja brothers were confronted by Avorgah’s group.
Julian Borja, 21, who the defence alleged was a member of a Manor House gang known as Murder House, told police one of the attackers was wearing a balaclava over his face and brandishing a knife.
During the struggle he was stabbed once in the stomach, leaving his intestines protruding.
Daniel Borja, 19, said he heard one of the gang shout “wet him” after they were knocked to the ground - a reference to being stabbed.
He was knifed in the back, buttock and arm and ran off before returning to help Godwin.
He said: “I ran up to him trying to help him up. He was whispering something but I didn’t hear him.
“I was pushing down on his chest but his eyes started rolling back and he started twitching.”
No motive for the attack was put forward by the prosecution, who described the attack as “sudden and without warning”.
Less than half an hour after the killing, Avorgah was treated for a cut to his right index finger at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead. He claimed he cut himself on a tin can - but his blood was found at the scene and in a hire car caught on CCTV near the murder.
Two days later Avorgah checked into a Southwark hotel using a false name and stolen credit cards details.
Osimeh and Riley were arrested in Folkestone, Kent, and Lanihun was arrested at Holloway police station.
Avorgah has a previous conviction for possessing a handgun and having a bladed article in a public after he was caught by officers in a car outside a block of flats in Finsbury Park on January 1, 2009. He was sentenced to 18 months in a Young Offenders Institution for that offence.