Keelan Wilson: How swap between gangs led to 15-year-old's murder

A change in gang allegiance sparked an escalating feud which ended with 15-year-old Keelan Wilson being repeatedly stabbed by four men who attacked like "piranhas feeding".

Tributes left at the scene where 15-year-old Keelan Wilson was stabbed
Tributes left at the scene where 15-year-old Keelan Wilson was stabbed

Keelan Wilson was said to have swapped from Wolverhampton's V3 to V2 gangs in 2018 – a choice which saw him being "executed" in the back of a taxi by four men – Brian Sasa, Tyrique King, Zenay Pennant-Phillips and Nehemie Tampwo.

On the day of his killing - May 29, 2018 - a number of acts of violence took place around the city between the gangs in broad daylight.

The first incident took place at about 3.40pm when hooded youths were seen waving machetes near Markies Barbers in Wolverhampton city centre. One of the youths was Kai Bell, a friend of Keelan’s, who had come out of the barbers, Mr Michael Duck, prosecuting, claimed.

Watch CCTV footage released by police:

The jury was shown CCTV of the incident and two people Mr Duck said were King and Sasa.

Around an hour later in Legge Street, Parkfield, Keelan was seen on CCTV. Two men, one of whom was riding a bike, chased after Keelan before a shotgun was fired in his direction.


A Honda associated with Keelan then drove into the bike but the rider jumped out of the way before being hit, Mr Duck said.

The final violent incident of the day happened at 11pm and resulted in Keelan’s death.

“There was plainly a plan to execute retribution on Keelan Wilson,” said Mr Duck.

A witness described the moment "four of five youths" ran at Keelan wielding weapons in Strathfield Walk, Merry Hill.

Coverage of the case:

The witness was in his car when he saw the men run past towards the taxi Keelan was in, holding what he believed to be either “a pole or baseball bat”.

He then saw the group attacking Keelan on the floor in an act he described as like “feeding piranhas”.

The witness explained: "Four, possibly five, individuals came running past the front of my vehicle. My car was facing into the car park, into the road. They ran towards where the taxi was.

“They were running. They were carrying some sort of pole or baseball bat of some description. There were at least two of them carrying weapons. The lighting is very, very bad in that area.

“I heard a commotion – shouting, yelling. It just a lot of shouting, I could not pick words out.I looked over in that direction – they were clearly giving someone a beating who was lying on the floor. They were all involved.

“By the time I recognised what was happening it was over. It was like piranhas feeding. It was awful.”

Clockwise from top left: Tyrique King, Brian Sasa, Zenay Pennant-Phillips, Nehemie Tampwo

After the attack the group fled and Nehemie Tampwo travelled to Telford to try and dispose of bloodstained clothes containing the victim's DNA.

Tampwo handed over his jacket, trainers and trousers to two individuals, but the items were never disposed of and ended up placing Tampwo at the scene of the killing.

He claimed that the clothing had been given to him by a man who had been in a shooting - an excuse the jury dismissed.

DNA evidence was also recovered from the taxi that Keelan had entered just minutes before being killed. Pennant-Phillips’ fingerprints were on the rear offside door handle and Sasa’s were on the nearside door.

Pennant-Phillips' defence was that he regularly used taxis, so his prints could have been on the car from a previous journey.

Flowers left at the scene in Merry Hill, Wolverhampton

Later, a rap song glorifying violence and referencing Keelan's name was found on Tampwo's phone.

The drill song discovered on his mobile featured the name “Kaysab” which was a nickname for Keelan.

The gangs clashed in Wolverhampton city centre earlier on the day Keelan Wilson was killed. CCTV showed men holding machetes

The rappers also spoke about “stabbing and killing” people and bragged about being in a “violent gang”, according to Pc William Bolton-Betts, who listened to similar music growing up, and appeared as an expert witness for the prosecution.

It is believed two or three different people featured on the rap song but their identities, or when the track was made, remain unclear.

Such songs were referenced by Keelan's mother Kelly Ellitts a year after he died, when no charges had yet been made.

She said at the time: "Keelan was executed, it was a vicious attack they had planned. That’s bad enough, without putting songs on the internet."

The murder trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court ended after three months with guilty verdicts for 20-year-old Sasa, of Long Ley, Heath Town; King, 19, of Chelwood Gardens, Bilston; Tampwo, 20, of Fern Grove, Bletchley and Pennant-Phillips, 19, whose address cannot be published for legal reasons.

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