Teen guilty of budding footballer's knife murder
UPDATE: Sukhbir Phull was today (9 October) sentenced to a minimum jail term of 17 years
A teenager has been found guilty of the murder of a young boy who had the potential to be a professional footballer.
Ramani Morgan was just 16 when he was fatally stabbed after attending a house party in Chandos Street, Coventry on 29 February.
Today ( 25 Sept) Sukhbir Phull, aged 18, was found guilty of his murder.
Ramani, from Erdington, had collapsed on Clay Lane in the Stoke area of the city at around 10.30pm on the Saturday evening.
He had several stab wounds and tragically died later that evening in hospital. He had travelled to the house party to meet his girlfriend, arriving less than half an hour before he was fatally injured.
Tensions were raised as witnesses told us that Phull have been flirting with Ramani’s girlfriend. It’s understood the girl who was hosting the party became concerned that things were getting out of hand and was worried that the house would get trashed.
She told Phull everyone needed to go and moments later he was seen whispering in Ramani’s ear telling him he needed to leave. He got up to go and a fight broke out just outside the house. Ramani was stabbed in the chest but he managed to run off but collapsed in nearby Clay Lane.
Witnesses recalled seeing Phull and a 17-year-old boy - who cannot be named for legal reasons but who was also on trial - fighting with Ramani, however both denied stabbing him.
They were both arrested the following day (1 March) and detectives recovered a knife with a broken handle from the sink of the 17-year-old’s house and a hat matching a description given from witnesses.
We also recovered a coat which Phull was seen wearing on CCTV, the coat had traces of Ramani’s blood on it.
The pair were subsequently charged with Ramani’s murder and today, Phull from Binley Road, Coventry, was found guilty following a four week trial at Leamington Justice Centre. He will be sentenced at a later date.
The 17-year-old boy was found not guilty by the jury.
Ramani’s family have said: "Throughout his life Ramani was such a lively and popular boy. He was very humble, always smiling, happy and joking around, he attended Plantsbrook School in Sutton Coldfield and did very well.
"From a very early age Ramani played schoolboy football for Wolverhampton Wanderers and Walsall football clubs before being signed into the academy at Aston Villa at the age of 12.
"This completely took over his life. The club collected him from school and took him straight to training every night. He didn’t have time to socialise or mix with other school friends at all. He was totally focused on his football.
"At 16 Aston Villa released Ramani. He was disappointed but was still having trials at other football clubs in the hope of securing a professional contract. As a fall back option he enrolled at Birmingham Metropolitan College to study to be an electrician. For the first time Ramani started to go out, enjoy himself and socialise more as he was doing on that night.
"All of this was tragically cut short on 29 February. Police attended our address just before midnight to tell us the dreadful news that Ramani had been stabbed. By the time we got to the hospital in Coventry he had died. Our whole world fell apart.
"In reality justice cannot be done in this case. No sentence will ever be enough and nothing can bring Ramani back or ease our pain. We do not want something like this to happen to another family."
Detective Inspector Laura Harrison, from our homicide team, said: “Ramani’s death was simply tragic and my thoughts and condolences remain with his family and friends who have been extremely brave throughout our investigation and the trial.
“The loss of his young life is devastating for everyone who knew him and also the wider community who were shocked and saddened by his death.
“It again reinforces the message we are trying to share with young people, carrying weapons has grim consequences.
“What would have been a fist fight has resulted in Ramani’s death and a young man now faces a lengthy prison sentence."
Coventry Commander, Chief Superintendent Mike O’Hara, said: “Ramani’s death was heart-breaking. He was a young boy with great potential and the shock, pain and sadness is still felt by many of us in Coventry.
“Sadly too many young lives are lost as a result of knife crime.
“Carrying a knife has very real consequences - Ramani’s untimely death, the huge impact on his friends and family, the horror and fear of the young witnesses at the party and now, a youngster has been convicted of his murder.
“We’re doing all we can to warn of the dangers of knife crime, we work with a wide range of partners, schools and colleges to try and educate young people that it’s never acceptable to carry a weapon.
“We’ll never give up sharing this message and robustly dealing with those who carry knives or are involved in violence."
This time last year we spoke to convicted teen murderer, Sadam Essakhil, from prison. We’re sharing his candid interview, where he talks about what he did and his life in prison, with young people across schools in the West Midlands to warn them not to carry knives.
While, not a decision we took lightly, we understand that some young people do not want to listen to what we have to say. Sadam’s message is powerful and has been providing some emotive thoughts and conversations amongst the young people who’ve seen it so far.
Sadam’s story can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5KDrTzNmOA
Anyone with information about knife crime should contact us via Live Chat on our website or by calling 101.