Police have released CCTV showing the final moments of a 15-year-old boy who was stabbed more than 40 times in an escalating gang war.
Four gang members have been convicted of murdering Keelan Wilson in a “targeted, well-planned” attack after a turf war between gangs from rival postcodes in Wolverhampton escalated.
Keelan Wilson suffered fatal wounds yards from his Wolverhampton home on May 29, 2018 when he was dragged from a taxi by four teenage thugs who belonged to the V3 gang who repeatedly knifed him.
A 13-week trial at the city’s Crown Court ended with unanimous guilty verdicts being returned against Brian Sasa, 20, Tyrique King, Zenay Pennant-Phillips and Nehemie Tampwo, all 19.
Jurors heard that Keelan was stabbed with a variety of weapons in the back of a taxi in Langley Road, in the Merry Hill area of Wolverhampton.
The teenager, who was due to start a college course, was rushed to hospital with serious injuries at around 11pm but died a short time later.
At the start of the trial, prosecutor Michael Duck QC said: “It is a matter of real sadness that people of such ages have the willingness to take the life of another person.
“It is not just the fact they were prepared to take that life but the manner in which they chose to do it.
“This was not in any way a spontaneous act of violence.
“This was a well-planned, targeted group attack by a number of youths armed with knives, and that was with the plan to execute another young man.”
Mr Duck said there was evidence to suggest the victim had “become embroiled in gang culture” despite his age.
The court heard that Keelan’s death had followed two “significant” altercations between groups of youths earlier that day, described as a “culmination of increasing acts of violence of gangs in the Wolverhampton area”.
Hours before the fatal stabbing, a friend of Keelan’s was attacked at a barber’s shop on Victoria Street in Wolverhampton at 3.30pm.
Shocking footage shows gang members brandishing knives in front of horrified shoppers.
A short time later, Keelan was dropped off at nearby Joan Street to check that his friend was alright but were shot at by a group of youngsters on bikes.
No one was injured but later that night Keelan was spotted by gang members while he saw in a taxi.
He was dragged out of the vehicle and stabbed 43 times.
Jurors heard his death was a revenge attack after he had switched from Wolverhampton’s V3 to V2 gangs in early 2018.
At 11.03pm, grainy CCTV shows his killers sprinting away from the murder scene.
The court heard Tampwo was found in possession of clothing the day after containing Keelan’s blood, while Sasa and Pennant-Phillips’ DNA were found on the door handle and windows of the taxi they ambushed.
After his death, Keelan’s mum Kelly Ellitts, 41, led a campaign for justice.
Speaking at the time, she said: “I feel like he needs me – he’s still a baby.
“He was my world.
“We did everything together, we went everywhere together.
“Nobody deserves anything like this to happen to them.
“I did not think this would happen to my son.
“He was an extremely loving person.
“He would leave me notes around the house and send me messages throughout the day asking if I was ok.
“We were very close.
“He did everything he could for me to make things special – we had a very close relationship.”
Verdicts in the case were returned around two hours after Judge Michael Chambers QC discharged a jury member who had tested positive for coronavirus last week.
Praising the jurors for their patience and good will during what he had earlier described as “endless” Covid-related adjournments, Judge Chambers said: “It’s customary at the conclusion of every trial for the trial judge to thank the jury for their service.
“In a case like this you deserve particular praise.
“It’s essential that the rule of law, particular in cases such as this, should continue.”
The judge said of Keelan’s death: “It is an utter tragedy that a 15-year-old child lost his life at the hands of others who are barely older then he.”
Prosecutors used fingerprint and DNA evidence, telephone records, and witness accounts to build a case against the four killers.
Speaking after the case, Detective Inspector Nick Barnes, of West Midlands Police, said: “Keelan’s death was unnecessary and tragic.
“He was brutally murdered by a group of young men who chose to carry knives.
“Our message is clear: if you carry a knife you are likely to use it.
“The consequences are truly devastating and those responsible are now facing lengthy prison sentences.
“Keelan was a child who had his whole life ahead of him.
“His loss is felt by many; the shocking amount of violence on our streets was senseless and completely incomprehensible.”
Keelan’s four killers, who all denied murder, were remanded in custody and will be sentenced on March 19.