A teenager has been found guilty of the fatal stabbing of a schoolboy in Stratford.
On Thursday, 12 March, a 16-year-old male from south London was found guilty of the murder of schoolboy Michael Irving following a trial at the Old Bailey.
The court heard how Michael, 15, of Woolwich, was lured to his death as part of a plan sinisterly executed by the teenager and a 15-year-old accomplice, who had previously admitted murder.
Both will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on 17 April.
Around 18:40hrs on Tuesday, 3 September 2019, Michael was found by a member of the public who was walking along Tennyson Road, near to a block of flats called Byford Close in Stratford.
In the seconds before, another witness reported seeing a group of black males involved in a fight, with one of the parties being attacked by the two others.
The witness who found Michael attempted CPR before the arrival of emergency services.
The first paramedic from London Ambulance Service (LAS) was on scene by 18:49hrs, and a full complement of medics, including from London’s Air Ambulance had arrived in Byford Close by 19:00hrs. It became clear that efforts to save Michael’s life were not succeeding and his life was pronounced extinct at 19:45hrs a little over an hour after the attack took place.
The teenager had been stabbed four times.
An investigation by homicide detectives was launched, and enquiries methodically established a sequence of events which appeared to have led to Michael’s murder.
A 16-year-old boy [A] was arrested on suspicion of murder on Tuesday, 3 September.
On Thursday, 5 September he was charged with the murder. He appeared the following day at Stratford Magistrates’ Court and remanded in custody.
On Tuesday, 10 September a 15-year-old boy [B] was also arrested on suspicion of murder; he was charged to appear at Stratford Youth Court the following day.
On Thursday, 13 February, the 15-year-old pleaded guilty to Michael’s murder.
The investigation was particularly aided by clear CCTV before and after the attack, leading to fast-time arrests and charges.
The CCTV which had proven so crucial to detectives’ enquiries, placed Michael at Westfield shopping centre at 16:21hrs on the afternoon of the murder.
At 18:09hrs, the two teenagers, who Michael had earlier arranged to meet via Snapchat, arrived at Stratford by bus. They had travelled from Goodmayes, which is where the 16-year-old was living at the time. A friend of Michael’s who saw them meet up, said Michael seemed ‘really happy’ and the group had fist-bumped in greeting.
The three boys then walked to Byford Close, a journey which ended in Michael being stabbed multiple times.
At 18.36hrs, minutes before the murder, CCTV showed how the 15-year-old had changed his clothing and wrapped a t-shirt around his head which concealed his face.
Within six minutes, both were seen to run away and enter a nearby alleyway.
Again, CCTV evidence revealed more about the pair’s efforts to avoid suspicion, as both were captured changing their clothing. The 16-year-old was even caught removing a large knife from between the layers of the two pairs of tracksuit bottoms he was wearing, before placing the weapon into a rucksack.
As Michael lay in the street mortally wounded, his attackers attempted to journey back to Goodmayes. Despite the tricks employed to evade the attention of police, they were stopped for not having a valid ticket and the 15-year-old gave his true details to the rail inspector.
The motive for the murder was not obvious. However, the court heard that Michael had come home earlier than expected after going to stay with the 16-year-old for a short period prior to the attack. The group did not seem to have fallen out during this time and Michael was happy to see who he believed to be his friends, at Westfield that afternoon.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Wrigley led the investigation. Upon the return of the verdict, he said:
“It is satisfying that the jury saw through the accused’s denials and we now have justice for Michael and his loved ones.
“This however will never change the fact that it is yet another young life violently taken without conscience on a London street.
“Michael was a person with aspirations and promise, and our thoughts remain with his family, who were sadly made to endure this trial.
“My hope is that the hard work of the investigative team, which led to the two teenagers being brought to account, will have brought some measure of comfort as they come to terms with life without their son.”
Violent crime on the streets of London continues to be the Met’s top priority.
We are working tirelessly - day and night – to identify and pursue offenders, help bring perpetrators to justice, take weapons off the street, support victims, engage and reassure the public, and keep our communities safe.
Do you know someone who is carrying a knife? If you have information that could help keep your community safe, but don’t want to speak to police, please contact the independent charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111. They do not ask your name and cannot trace your call or I.P address.
Any young people who have information about violence or knife crime, can visit www.fearless.org where they can pass on information anonymously – your I.P address will not be traced. Fearless is part of the Crimestoppers charity, and is independent of the police.
To give information 100% anonymously contact independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.