A man has been jailed for life at the Old Bailey after stabbing a 39-year-old man to death in Dulwich.
Jahmel Michael Riley, 24 (25.08.94) of Lordship Lane, Southwark, was found guilty of killing 39-year-old Dennis Anderson after a trial at the same court earlier this month.
He was sentenced today, Tuesday, 20 August, to serve a minimum term of 23 and a half years.
On Sunday, 10 February, Dennis was returning home from a party in the early hours of the morning, when he went into an off-license on Lordship Lane with a group of friends.
Riley was already present in the shop when the victim arrived and had been asking customers in the store if he could have a cigarette, appearing aggressive and impolite.
It was at this point that he asked Dennis the same question. An argument broke out between the two and Riley appeared to walk towards the door as if to leave the premises.
He then unsheathed a large hunting knife.
Witnesses saw Riley raise the knife before Dennis stepped towards him and attempted to wrestle the weapon out of his hands. CCTV showed the struggle between the two men inside before they spilled out into the street through the door.
It was here that external footage from the store showed Riley and Dennis on the floor with Riley making a stabbing motion towards the left side of his Dennis’ body causing a deep cut to his neck.
Riley was dragged off by Dennis’s friends and hit, before fleeing the scene towards Crawthew Grove.
Officers then arrived at the scene at around 02:40hrs and immediately attempted first-aid. The London Ambulance Service (LAS) arrived shortly after; unfortunately, despite significant efforts by officers and paramedics Dennis was pronounced dead at 03:04hrs.
A post mortem was conducted on Tuesday, 12 February, and the deceased was found to have had several lacerations, as well as the fatal cut to his neck, including one on his face and back and multiple on his left hand where he tried to disarm his attacker.
Detectives sought to track down Riley after the incident, who was attempting to avoid arrest. He eventually attended Lewisham Police station with family on Wednesday, 13 February after both his father and brother had been spoken to by police.
HHJ Hilliard QC acknowledged the “efforts and industry” of the Police team during the course of the investigation and stated: “We see and hear a lot about knife crime these days and if ever a case demonstrated the curse of carrying knives it is this case. What might have otherwise been a verbal disagreement becomes a murder case because the defendant was carrying that terrible weapon.”
The victim’s partner, Leeane Manzi, said: “The end of the court case is a bitter sweet feeling for us as a family. We are pleased with the verdict, as it has taken one very violent and dangerous person off of the streets.
“We are hoping it also teaches others a lesson that carrying and using knives is a life sentence for all. This would not have been possible without the hard-working, dedicated and compassionate work of the police that have supported us from the very beginning.
"On the night that he so brutally attacked, Dennis showed the heroic qualities that we all knew him for by trying to protect other members of the public and stop the situation escalating.
"This did not surprise us when we found out, as looking out for others summed up Dennis' character."
“The sentence does not change a thing for us. As a family we are also serving a life sentence, this has left our hearts shattered and our lives turned upside down.
“We have fought one battle and now for us the real fight begins, learning to live a life without our Dennis."
Detective Inspector Domenica Catino, from the Met's Homicide and Major Crime Command, who has led the investigation, said: “This is a very tragic incident that has left me filled with anguish as Dennis Anderson’s death was totally avoidable.
“Witnesses of the attack, including close friends of the victim, and CCTV footage showed that Riley had chances to avoid the confrontation and the leave the off-license. The two men did not know each other and Dennis was killed solely because he refused Riley’s request for a cigarette. That is the value that Riley places on life.
“My deepest sympathies extend to Dennis’ family and friends, particularly those that witnessed a shocking event unfold in such a needless manner.”
“I want to thank them for their support throughout this investigation and thank the hard work and commitment of the murder investigation team. I can only also praise the public, officers and paramedics who tried valiantly to keep Dennis alive.”