Click to view image: '4343e9f534cf-1.jpg' Samantha Joseph
Click to view image: '433f95876140-2.jpg' Shakilus Townsend
A pretty schoolgirl used as a "honey trap" to lure a besotted schoolboy to his death at the hands of a street gang was today convicted of murder.
Samantha Joseph along with the group of five teenagers, including a former public schoolboy, faces life imprisonment along with her boyfriend for killing Shakilus Townsend, 16, after he was ambushed and repeatedly stabbed him in a quiet suburban cul-de-sac.
The case highlights the alarming extent to which American-style gang culture and the glorification of street violence have been embraced by some British youths.
Today, after a 10-week trial, the mother of Shakilus, whom she admits was “no angel”, called on parents and the wider community to take greater steps to help stamp out knife and gun crime in Britain.
Shakilus was murdered because he had been caught in a love triangle with the girl and a rival gang members.
Joseph was just 15 when she enticed him into the clutches of the teenagers who beat him with a baseball bat before stabbing him five times.
For nearly a month, she had been seeing Shakilus behind the back of Danny McLean, 18, a member of the SMN (Shine My Nine) gang in Croydon, South London.
But when McLean discovered her treachery he “dumped” her and, despite his regular beatings, Joseph promised to do anything to get him back.
Shakilus had told his mother, who burst into tears as the jury returned its verdicts, that he was smitten with the “beautiful girl”, even saying that one day he would marry her. But by then McLean had demanded Joseph honour her promise and deliver Shakilus to his death.
Joseph, now aged 16, arranged to meet him on the pretext of wanting to introduce him to a member of her family. Instead, on July 3 last year, she led him to a cul-de-sac in Thornton Heath and secretly sent a text message alerting a masked gang that lay in wait.
CCTV pictures from the day of the attack in July last year show Joseph wearing a see-through floral dress as she met Shakilus and took a bus with him. She laughed as his attackers caught him.
Andre Thompson, then 16, beat their victim with a baseball bat, while others, all wearing the gang’s trademark colours, kicked and stabbed him.
When McLean stabbed the boy he twisted the knife, an act of revenge that left a gaping hole in Shakilus’s stomach. That wound was one of five from at least two separate knives that left him bleeding to death.
Neighbours who ran to the scene found him in a pool of blood and crying: “Mummy, mummy, mummy... I don’t want to die.”
Joseph, who can now be named after trial Judge Richard Hawkins lifted an order banning her identification, was later seen walking off with McLean, carrying his hoodie and a cream-coloured handbag stained with his blood. McLean was wearing a bright orange bandana, the colour identifying him as a member of the “Shine My Nine” gang to which he and the other attackers belonged.
Witnesses told police of their surprise at seeing the floral-pattern of a girl’s dress among the fleeing gang.
Joseph, from Brockley, south east London, later confessed to friends that she had agreed to “get Shak set” and only liked him because he lavished her with gifts.
For Tyrell Ellis, 19, and his brother Don-Carlos, 18, the killing was just another step to fulfilling their dream of being gangsters. It ranked closely to the videos they had posted on the Internet of themselves ‘spitting’, freestyle rapping to music.
Tyrell, streetname Drastik, had tried hard to notch up a criminal record, he was subject to a two-year ASBO for gang-related crimes at the time.
His brother Don-Carlos, known as Rugz and said to be the leader of the gang, was on bail and due to report to a police station on the day of the killing. The matter he was on bail for has now been dropped.
Along with all the other members of the gang from that day Andrew Johnson-Haynes, a 19-year-old former public schoolboy from Croydon who played rugby for London Irish, and Michael Akinfenwa, 17, were also found guilty of murder.
Shakilus, by his own mother’s admission, was no angel. His profile on a social networking site showed him wearing a stab-proof vest and jabbing a blade into it next to the message: “I’m a sweet boy, slash your face up if you f*** around with me.”
He had, like those who killed him, embraced violence to earn “respect” on the streets.
Aged just 13 he was convicted of common assault and the following year he was found carrying an axe in the street. He also had convictions for robbery and carrying a knife. In court, McLean admitted stabbing Shakilus, insisting it had been in self-defence.
After his death McLean and Joseph wiped Shakilus’s account on Bebo, the social networking site, in order to delete any link between them.
As rumours spread of her betrayal, Shakilus’s friends used such sites to condemn her.
One comment read: “Remember u set up Shak. You bitch. And he luved yooooh. You iz f****d!”
Hicola Dyer, Shakilus’s 34-year-old single mother from Deptford South East, London, last night called on parents and the wider community to do more to rid the streets of the gang-culture that claimed the life of the eldest of her five children.
She said: “First and foremost your children are your responsibility, but we must not just consider ourselves as parents of our own children but to all children.
“It takes not a mother and father to raise a child, but a whole village. This African proverb, which was once used by Hillary Clinton, is an indication of the responsibility we all have towards one another.”
She added that part of the tragedy of her son’s murder was that he had “turned over a new leaf”.
As for Joseph she said: “He really cared about her and I can’t understand how she could have callously set him up and lured him to his death.”
Detective Inspector Barney Ratcliffe said Joseph had “very calculatingly brought Shakilus to the scene, knowing that he was going to get beaten up".
“Ever since, she has been very cold and callous about the whole incident, with no signs of emotion.
“She made various phone calls during that journey bringing Shakilus to the scene, updating the gang through McLean as to where they were going to go and what was going to happen.
“She was an integral part of of what was going to happen - if she hadn’t been involved it wouldn’t have happened.”
Tags: Shakilus, Townsend, Samantha, Joseph, schoolgirl, honey, trap, besotted, teenager, repeatedly, street, violence, stabbed, ambushed, convicted, murder, schoolboy,
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