Teenager locked up for life over stabbing death of 14-year-old

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A mother has issued an emotional plea to tackle knife crime as her 14-year-old son’s killer was locked up for life, saying: “It can be anyone’s child.”

Jermaine Cools was fatally stabbed with a machete in Croydon, south London, on November 18 2021.

His 16-year-old killer, Marques Walker, had a history of carrying deadly weapons and had been on bail for carrying a Zombie knife six weeks before.

Showing a lack of remorse, he wrote about the murder in rap lyrics saying: “Even if that youth was a civilian I would still rewind and chef up (stab) his back.”

Jermaine Cools death
Jermaine Cools (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Judge Sarah Munro KC, who was briefly interrupted by angry shouting from the public gallery, said: “This is yet another case of the senseless murder of a young teenager committed for reasons no mature adult could fathom.”

She said Walker stabbed Jermaine “mercilessly” and the victim “must have been terrified and in agony”.

Marques Walker court case
A knife seized by Metropolitan Police in Croydon (Met Police/PA)

She said: “Had it been addressed earlier he would not have had the opportunity to go out to kill.

“Young males get caught with a knife, the knife gets confiscated. Within an hour they get another one from Snapchat or social media.

“Stop and search has its place and it’s very, very good for removing weapons but the follow-up has to be there.

“When Jermaine got stopped and searched I was happy about it. Some parents complain about their children being stopped and searched – that could be the deterrent that stops them.”

Ms Dudek told how the family had witnessed “victim blaming” as people struggled to accept that boys with no gang connection could be “stabbed for no reason”.

But she said: “People don’t realise it can just be anyone’s child.”

Jermaine either fell or was pushed to the ground before the youth ran towards him and repeatedly lunged at him with the blade.

Prosecutor Caroline Carberry KC said: “It is clear that Jermaine Cools did not stand a chance. He could offer no resistance. He was unarmed, he was on the floor, and he was totally vulnerable.

“He was stabbed a total of seven times by Marques Walker in a senseless attack of extreme ferocity.”

Jermaine, who had previously confided in his parents that he was worried about knife crime, was driven by a passer-by to the Mayday Hospital where he died from a wound to the chest.

Police identified the defendant from CCTV footage but he went to ground, sleeping on the sofas of friends for nearly six weeks.

On December 27 2021, he was found at an address hiding behind a bed and initially gave a false name to officers.

Marques Walker court case
A knife seized by police at a school (Metropolitan Police/PA)

A Rambo-style blade was seized at his school and at the time of the murder he was on bail for possessing a Zombie knife six weeks earlier.

Jermaine’s parents described their son as a “beautiful” child and a “bright light in the world” who was just interested in music and cars.

Ms Dudek said: “He had become aware that knife crime is massive. A lot of teenagers live with the threat of knife crime.

Ms Dudek suggested that tackling knife crime started at home and said she had always told Jermaine never to carry a blade.

She said: “For me, Jermaine was the closest person to me, he was the best child ever.

“We do not live any more. We just exist. When they took his life, they took ours. We just exist now. We exist in pain.”

Ms Dudek thanked the people who came to her son’s aid, saying: “I’m very grateful to them because without them my son would have died in the street.”

She added: “All these gang members. All his friends and family that protected him have my son’s blood on their hands. I will never forgive the defendant.”

Jermaine’s father Julius Cools said: “I just feel I have not got justice yet. Everyone that was involved should get justice.

Referring to Walker, he said: “Your devilish actions that night took Jermaine from us. You stabbed him so many times, if it was one or two wounds maybe Jermaine would have survived but you kept stabbing him.”

Superintendent Richard Vandenbergh, of Scotland Yard, said: “It was a horrific event that should never have happened. He was the very youngest that year to have lost their life to knife crime.

“Jermaine’s family have spoken out about knife crime and I hope that their courage in speaking out may stop some other family losing a child to this evil crime.

“This youth was able to obtain knife after knife. Anyone seeing the pictures of those weapons police seized from him in the months leading up to the killing of Jermaine should be concerned that weapons like this seem so readily available to young men.”

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