A teenage boy who stabbed a man to death during a disturbance in Maidstone has been found guilty of his murder.
Vasilios Ofogeli used a machete to kill 21-year-old Andre Bent and injure three others when violence broke out in the Bank Street area of the town in the early hours of Sunday 25 August 2019.
The 17-year-old, of Grove House Road in Hornsey, north London, fled to Greece following the incident but was arrested by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate who were able to trace his home address from rap videos he had posted online.
Ofogeli was found guilty of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of wounding with intent on Tuesday 17 March 2020 following a trial at Maidstone Crown Court.
The jury heard how Ofogeli was one of a group of friends who had travelled to Maidstone from London to watch a performance at a nightclub in the town, which ended just before 3am on the morning in question.
A fight broke out among various people who had left the club, who were shown on CCTV to be punching, kicking and hitting each other with belts.
Ofogeli was wearing a distinctive hooded top, which he wrapped around his head to conceal his identity moments before the brawl broke out.
A large amount of mobile phone footage was posted on social media following the disturbance, and together with CCTV evidence police were able to establish that Ofogeli was in possession of a machete-style knife that he first used to stab three other men who have all since recovered from their injuries.
Ofogeli’s final victim was Andre Bent, who was unarmed and suffered a single stab wound to the chest. He was helped to the Urban Blue charity bus where first aid was administered but Andre was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later.
CCTV images of Ofogeli were circulated on social media in the days following Andre’s death, which led to detectives receiving information that Ofogeli had posted footage of himself rapping online.
They traced the address linked to the computer the videos were uploaded from and established he had flown to Athens just hours after murdering Andre. They also discovered the weapon used during a search of a neighbour’s garden.
Ofogeli returned to the UK and was arrested at Stansted airport on Saturday 31 August. He will be sentenced on Friday 24 April 2020.
Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Patrick Milford of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: ‘Andre Bent was a popular and much-loved young man with his whole life ahead of him, but his future was cut short by Vasilios Ofogeli in the worst way imaginable.
‘Ofogeli and his friends had travelled to Maidstone from their home in London and brought with them a level of violence that we simply do not tolerate here in Kent. There is no excuse for anyone to go out while armed with a knife or to cause such serious harm to others, and we relentlessly pursue those who do to ensure they are brought to justice.
‘This was a fast-paced investigation that demonstrates our commitment to ensuring justice for Andre’s family most importantly, but also for the people of Maidstone who were shocked and appalled by what happened that night. Thankfully such incidents are rare and our officers work hard on a daily basis to ensure it stays that way.
‘The callous and random nature of the knife attacks committed by Ofogeli on Andre and three other men are deeply troubling and paint a picture of a young man who thinks nothing of attacking others with a deadly weapon. He is fully deserving of the lengthy prison sentence he will now have to serve.’
A number of other men were also arrested following Andre’s death in connection with other acts of violence committed during the disturbance, including two who went on trial alongside Ofogeli after pleading not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm.
Ryan Lowe-White, 21, of Boyton Close, Hornsey; and Ali Aziz, 24, of no fixed address, were both acquitted but will still be sentenced alongside Ofogeli after they pleaded guilty to violent disorder.
The seven other men who admitted the same offence and will also be sentenced are:
· Nathaniel Small, 22, of Boyton Road, Hornsey;
· Mohamed Gelani, 24, of Newland Road, Hornsey;
· Darien Thompson, 21, of Raleigh Road, Hornsey;
· Yusuf Aweys, 20, of Holly Park Road, New Southgate;
· Jerral Johnson, 26, of Boyton Close, Hornsey;
· Kaline Riley, 23, of Campsfield Road, Hornsey;
· Rheo Lawrence, 29, of Otley Way in Watford, Hertfordshire.