Liam Woodards stabbing: Young football coach jailed for Westfield murder

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Liam WoodardsImage source, other
Image caption,
Liam Woodards was stabbed to death at Westfield Stratford

A teenage footballer has been jailed for murdering a man who was stabbed to death during a mass brawl at Westfield Stratford in east London.

Liam Woodards, 24, was attacked in front of shoppers in June 2012 when a yoghurt pot was thrown sparking a fight between two groups of young men.

Nii-Azu Kojo-Smith, 19, from Hackney, who the Old Bailey heard was involved in coaching at Arsenal, stabbed his victim in the chest.

He was ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years.

The court was told Mr Woodards had been out celebrating his 24th birthday when he was stabbed.

Image source, Metropolitan Police
Image caption,
Nii-Azu Kojo-Smith will serve a minimum of 18 years

The fight then moved on to Stratford Tube Station where one of Mr Woodards's friends stabbed a member of the opposing group, the court heard.

Kojo-Smith, who was convicted after a retrial, had a previous conviction for battery and threatening behaviour in 2010 after a group attack on a passenger at Finsbury Park Tube station, the court heard.

Philippa McAtasney QC, defending, said: "He had obtained an FA1 coaching certificate and his future was set - all of that was thrown away in a second of his behaviour."

Sentencing him, Judge Richard Marks QC said Kojo-Smith: "It was a horrific scene of complete bedlam as many members of the public ran for safety into shops which swiftly closed their doors."

Co-defendant Tony Caton, 22, of Stratford, was convicted of two counts of violent disorder and jailed for three years.

Anselm Legemah, 19, of east London, was convicted of one count of violent disorder and will serve two years in a young offenders' institution.

The BBC has amended this article after being notified that Mr Kojo-Smith has never been an Arsenal coach and has never been employed by Arsenal Football Club in any capacity.

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