Keelan Wilson: Wolverhampton gangland murderers to spend 18 years in prison

Four teenage murderers who stabbed a 15-year-old to death have been sentenced to life behind bars but could be back on the streets before turning 40.

Keelan Wilson's killers. Clockwise from top left: Tyrique King, Brian Sasa, Zenay Pennant-Phillips, Nehemie Tampwo
Keelan Wilson's killers. Clockwise from top left: Tyrique King, Brian Sasa, Zenay Pennant-Phillips, Nehemie Tampwo

Keelan Wilson was aged 15 when he was stabbed more than 40 times in a planned gangland execution near his home in Wolverhampton three years ago.

Brian Sasa, Nehemie Tampwo, Zenay Pennant-Phillips and Tyrique King, were all found guilty of murder in January after a 13-week trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

They were each sentenced to life in prison on Friday by Judge Michael Chambers QC who ordered Sasa, Tampwo and King to spend at least 18 years behind bars and gave Pennant-Phillips a minimum term of 17 years.

The judge said he believed that all four murderers were members of the WV3 postcode gang and had worked like a pack to pull Keelan out of a taxi and kill him.

King was aged 16 and Sasa, Tampwo and Pennant-Phillips were 17 when they murdered Keelan. They are now aged 19 and 20 and therefore will be eligible for release when they are 37 to 38 years old.

Keelan Wilson pictured with his mother Kelly Ellitts

Keelan, a former student Castlecroft Primary and Highfields School in Penn, was murdered by members of the V3 postcode gang seeking "retribution" after he switched allegiance to the rival V2 gang.

Eyewitnesses saw four masked youths savagely attack Keelan with machetes and other weapons after his name was shouted like a "whooping war cry," with one witness describing the knifemen as like "piranhas feeding".

"This was a shocking and appalling murder," the judge said.

"This was a planned gang related murder of a 15-year-old boy who was repeatedly stabbed with machetes.

"It was committed as retribution and as a deterrent to others because he dared to change gangs.

"Keelan was aged 15. He had his whole life before him, a much-loved son and family member.

"I am satisfied each of you were members of the Wolverhampton postcode gang WV3. The V3's arch rival was the V2 gang."

Terror on the streets. CCTV footage released by police.

Mr Chambers recapped on evidence from a detective sergeant who said the gangs had been targetting each other with shootings.

Mr Chambers continued: "What is clear is WV3 were out to get Keelan Wilson to reach retribution for his change of allegiance.

"You [the defendants] were described as working together like a pack to pull him out the car and repeatedly stab him.

"There was clearly a common intention to kill."

Keelan was ambushed in Langley Road, Merry Hill, on May 29, 2018 in what was the latest of a series of violent clashes between the rival gangs.

At around 3.40pm that day gang members armed with machetes had been involved in a stand-off in Wolverhampton city centre. Among the hooded youths caught on CCTV were killers Sasa and King and Keelan's friend Kai Bell.

WATCH: CCTV footage shows day of violence

Later in the afternoon, Keelan was shot at after being chased by two men in Legge Street, Parkfield. One of the men was riding a bike and was driven at by a Honda driven by one of Keelan's associates but jumped out of the way before being hit.

The violence then culminated at 11pm when the gang members spotted Keelan attempting to fix a broken-down car on Strathfield Walk, near his home.

Keelan and a friend were getting in a taxi and about to leave when the gang struck as a pack, dragging the two boys out of the car and raining down blow after blow down on Keelan. Another friend called 999 but Keelan was confirmed dead in hospital at midnight.

Sasa, of Long Ley, Heath Town; King, of Chelwood Gardens, Wolverhampton; Tampwo, of Fern Grove in Bletchley; and Pennant-Phillips, whose address cannot be published for legal reasons, were all sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

Police tents at the scene where Keelan was attacked

As the defendants were aged below 18 when they committed the murder, the starting point for their sentences was 12 years. However, aggravating factors in the case raised their jail terms.

Had they been aged 18 or above, Judge Chambers said the starting point would have been 25 years.

Mr Chambers said there was a "significant degree of planning and premeditation" in the attack, which was carried out as a group.

He added: "I wish to commend West Midlands Police for a painstaking and highly professional investigation in what was clearly a challenging case.

"Hopefully this sends out a message that those who commit gang-related crime on the streets of Wolverhampton cannot do so with impunity."

It took detectives more than two years to charge anyone over the attack

It took two-and-a-half years for anyone to be charged over Keelan's death despite police arresting nine teenagers during the investigation.

None of the four murderers had been on the radar of West Midlands Police before the killing, which was described by the lead murder detective as one of the most horrific his team had investigated.

They all denied killing Keelan and of being part of the V3 gang.

However key evidence linked the killers to the scene and to Keelan.

Sasa and Pennant-Phillips' DNA were found on the taxi which Keelan was dragged out of, while Tampwo was found in possession of clothing containing Keelan's blood.

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

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