Five teenagers have been locked up for murdering a defenceless boy after setting upon him “like vultures” with a knife in the street.
The gang of rival teenagers pursued Kyle Yule in a “senseless revenge attack” as he fell to the ground outside his best friend’s front door.
The 17-year-old was stabbed five times on October 6 in Gillingham, Kent, as he was chased from a parked car. He died on the operating table in the early hours of the next morning.
He was due to celebrate his 18th birthday just over a month later.
The killing followed months of tit-for-tat attacks between teenagers in Medway towns.
“It was a senseless, ruthless and calculated killing, for which not one of you has at any stage shown any sign of remorse.”
Victor Maibvisira, 19, Shezakia Daley, who turned 18 on Wednesday, both of Gillingham, Tyler Ralph, of Hertfordshire, and Ephrain Akinwunmi-Streets, of Sittingbourne, both 17, and 16-year-old Jordan Dania, of Croydon, were all convicted of Mr Yule’s murder after an eight-week trial.
None of the defendants reacted when handed their sentences but some of their relatives, who were sat in the packed court room, fell to the floor in tears as they were led away. Maibvisira waved as he was taken to the cells.
They will serve the terms in youth detention centres until they turn 21.
Even in mitigation, defence barristers insisted there was no proof some of the defendants had carried out the fatal blow, had intended to kill Mr Yule or even used a knife that day.
But Judge Williams branded Maibvisira the ring leader and said the others were “in the thick” of the attack.
Mr Yule’s mother Nikki, who burst into tears as she read a victim impact statement to the court, branded her son’s killers “cowards” and said they had “ruined lives forever”.
She said: “Kyle was loving, kind-hearted, warm, funny, handsome and full of life. He was my best friend.
“You were cowards running around with weapons.
“How dare you sit there and look forward to your birthdays?
“I had to arrange a funeral for my son when I should have been planning his 18th birthday.”
In a bid to get him out of the vehicle, an eyewitness told police the “group were smashing the car as if they were possessed”.
Kyle escaped from the car and ran towards the home of his best friend where he was knocked to the ground and attacked in the front garden.
A witness told officers the group chasing him “were on him like vultures, kicking and punching him”.
There had been a string of previous disputes between the two groups in the weeks and months before the attack, the trial heard, but Kent Police has insisted the killing was not gang-related and there is not a problem with gangs in the area.
Akinwunmi-Streets, Daley, Ralph and Dania were granted anonymity during the trial due to their age. Following the jury’s verdict the judge allowed their names and the towns in which they lived to be reported.
Pictures showing their faces are still banned from being published, apart from those of Daley, who has since turned 18.