May 22 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
A sports agent accused of being part of a gang who stabbed and beat a teenager to death once helped former Prime Minister Tony Blair launch an anti-knife crime campaign, a court heard today.
Christopher Nathaniel, 40, said he travelled to Manchester to help launch the campaign.
He was giving evidence at the Old Bailey, where he and nine other men are on trial accused of killing 18-year-old Danny O’Shea in Canning Town in a revenge attack over a stolen BlackBerry phone.
The court was told that after the launch of the campaign Mr Blair asked to meet Nathaniel again to find out about his work with gangs.
Nathaniel said the government got involved with the campaign in London and “then Manchester with Tony Blair to launch it there”.
He added that the former Prime Minister had shown an interest in what he was doing in the community, adding: “He said he would like to meet us and see what we were doing to help young people.”
Nathaniel also told the court that his firm, NVA, tried to give an impression of a big firm with an impressive website and by offering telephone callers different department extensions.
In reality, he said, it was run from two rooms in Canary Wharf, and the firm’s four staff were all on freelance contractor deals. There were also 20 or so talent scouts on the books.
He said: “It gives the impression you are a big outfit, which is what you want when you are competing with the big boys.”
Nathaniel, his business partner Paul Boadi, 34, and eight other men are accused of killing Mr O’Shea in Canning Town on December 2, 2011.
The teenager died after being beaten with baseball bats and stabbed in the throat yards from his mother’s home, the trial has heard.
Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, previously said the defendants travelled to the area to “exact revenge” after Boadi’s mobile phone was stolen a week earlier.
Eight of the men hired a minibus to travel to Canning Town on the evening of the killing, while Boadi and Nathaniel travelled in taxis, the court heard.
They spent more than two hours searching the area before they came across a group of young men, including Mr O’Shea, who they believed had robbed Boadi and gave chase, Mr Heywood said.
Some of the men caught Mr O’Shea and began beating him before one of the defendants stabbed him in the neck, the court heard.
The defendants fled as the teenager attempted to return home but he died at the scene, Mr Heywood said.
A Twitter message was allegedly published shortly after Mr O’Shea’s death, which read: “The element of surprise, such a beautiful thing.”
All of the accused deny murder and conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm.
The defendants are Nathaniel and Boadi, both of Docklands; David Hylton, 47, from Holborn; Andrew Johnson, 35, Paul Johnson, 33, and O’Neil Wareham, 30, all from Harrow; Ferron Perue, 24, from Birmingham; Kevin Richards, 32, from Harlesden; Nugent Rowe, 29, from Pinner; and Scott Marius, 44, from Clinton Villas, west London.
The trial continues.