The hunt is still on to find the person who delivered a fatal stab wound to teenager Ben Morutare, as six young men today started jail terms for their part in the violence leading up to his death.
The six were yesterday all sent to young offenders’ institutions for being involved in the violence that led to the death of the Walsall schoolboy.
But the police investigation is still not over, with the search still taking place for the person that delivered the single, fatal blow, and others involved in the violence.
Sentencing all of the defendants, Deputy High Court Judge Sir Geoffrey Grigson said he thought they knew who was involved.
He told them: “Your silence and lies are protecting Ben’s killers.
“All of you played a part in serious and violent public disorder which resulted in the death of a 16-year-old boy.”
Speaking after the sentences were passed, investigating officer DCI Bob Hazel called for anyone who knew anything about the killing to come forward.
He added: “The judge remarked that all of the defendants knew who inflicted the fatal blow.
“I’m absolutely convinced that the people we had on trial were involved in the disorder, but there were 300 to 400 people at the club where the incident took place, and at least 40 in the group that attacked Ben.”
The youngster, from Holden Crescent, Coalpool, was stabbed in the leg after violence flared outside a birthday party at the former Smethwick Home Guard and Old Comrades Club on July 27 last year.
He and two friends were attacked by a group of at least 40 youths which rolled out onto the streets of the town.
Ben, who was just five feet two inches tall, was fatally stabbed while trying to protect his two friends. He was taken to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where he died several hours later.
Following yesterday’s sentencing, Detective Inspector Gary Plant from West Midlands Police’s Major Investigation Review Team said: “The attack on little Ben was a despicable crime with a tragic and unnecessary loss of life which sees six men now facing time behind bars. Together with his friends and hundreds of other teenagers, Ben attended a birthday party that was advertised via social media. As a consequence, a small minority of people singled him out and attacked him, all because he, and his friends, were not local to the area.”
He added: “Ben was a small boy who, when seen on CCTV alongside his attackers, looks like a small child by comparison. Even paramedics attending the scene initially believed he was 12 or 13.”
Student Andy Ly, 18 from Great Colmore Street, Ladywood, was handed a seven year sentence after his guilty plea to manslaughter. He was also given a three-year sentence for violent disorder, which will run concurrently.
Tahj Mills, 19 from Waterside Street in West Bromwich, and 20-year-old Tobias Blake, from Kelsall Croft, Ladywood, were each given three-and-a-half years after being convicted of violent disorder. Blake was also found guilty of possession of an offensive weapon, but was handed no separate punishment for the offence.
Omar Robinson, aged 19 and from Rann Close, Ladywood, and 18-year-old Halesowen Town footballer Dale Reid, from Rodney Close, also Ladywood, have been jailed for 28 months each for guilty pleas to violent disorder.
Finally Jordan Campbell, 18 and from Portland Road, Edgbaston, has been handed 18 months for his part in the incident after being found guilty of violent disorder.
Ly and Robinson were originally on trial for Ben’s murder, but seven weeks into the proceedings their guilty pleas to the other offences were accepted.
Ly’s manslaughter plea was offered on the basis that he was not the one who stabbed Ben in the leg, but that instead he was with a group of people knowing that one of their number had a knife which they might use.