London

Three youths guilty of murdering Nicholas Pearton in Sydenham

Nicholas Pearton
Image caption Nicholas Pearton was stabbed by gang members wearing their school uniforms, the jury heard

Three youths have been found guilty of murdering a 16-year-old boy who was chased through a park and stabbed to death in south-east London.

Nicholas Pearton was attacked after being caught up in a clash between two gangs in Home Park, Sydenham, last May.

The boy, who lived nearby, was stabbed through the heart and collapsed at a restaurant, the Old Bailey heard.

The youths, two aged 17 and one 16, were found guilty murder. Another 17-year-old was convicted of manslaughter.

All four boys, who denied the charges, will be sentenced in April. None of them can be named for legal reasons.

Two other boys, aged 14 and 16, were cleared of murder.

Nicholas was caught up in a fight between two gangs - Shanks & Guns and Black Mafia - following an earlier row between the groups at school, Edward Brown QC, prosecuting, said.

The victim was attacked when he went to the park to help after receiving a call, but his friends had gone.

Mr Brown said: "He was left on his own and isolated in the park. In the eyes of the defendants, however, he remained a member of the rival Black Mafia gang.

"What happened thereafter, as described by one witness who saw the defendants as they ran Nicholas Pearton to ground and killed him, was a group of young men acting 'like animals'".

"Some of the defendants were in their school uniform at the time of the attack - in their blazers and ties," he added.

The jury saw CCTV footage from the chicken shop of an injured Nicholas running in and collapsing.

When his parents reached the scene they saw their son "lying dead or dying inside the door of the shop", Mr Brown told the jury.

As the attackers left the scene laughing and joking, one of them held a knife above his head "as if bragging", the prosecutor said.

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