On Friday 24 June, in Court No. 6 of the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, a gang member who stabbed a father-of-two to death for straying into his ‘turf’ was jailed for life. Simeon Smith, 34, attacked 33 year-old Sylvester Senyah, son of Nana Senyah, a community leader and member of the New Juaben Royal family as he left a Caribbean restaurant in Leyton, East London.
Mr Senyah, affectionately known as “Twiggy”, was an extremely caring father on his way to pick up his 10 year old son from school. Unfortunately, he bled to death from a fatal wound to the major artery in his groin. The court heard that the paramedics were unable to give him fluids intravenously whilst in the ambulance because he was lashing out due to rapid loss of blood. He died some 40 minutes later in hospital.
Sylvester was stabbed on 29 November 2010 and Smith handed himself in to the Police 4 days later, after he had sought legal advice. He claimed the stabbing was in self-defence. He said he was trying to preserve his own life. He alleged that Sylvester came to kill him. Smith told the court that he had moved into a career in music production and football management. Smith often exaggerated during his evidence, even comparing Sylvester who was once his friend, to Raoul Moat, a serial killer.
When the Crown prosecutor asked him why he delayed in handing himself in, he stated that he heard on the same evening that Sylvester had died. He claimed he was surprised as when he left him after the altercation, Sylvester was on the phone, inside his car. He said he went to say “Good-bye” to his brother, sister and step-mother. He slept at his step-mother’s house the day before he handed himself in to the police.
“Why did you hand yourself in?” Smith replied: “Because Sylvester’s parents needed to know what happened. He is a father, He is a parent.” He said whilst sobbing in the dock. “I did not leave the house to stab anyone that day. I was supposed to go to Istanbul. My missus had told me she was pregnant that day. I did not want to kill nobody and he has died and messed up my whole life.”
During re-examination by the Crown Prosecutor, Smith agreed that what he did that day to Sylvester Senyah was very serious indeed. He stabbed him three times. He stabbed him in the groin which in gang circles is a very vulnerable place. He stabbed him in the femoral artery which is well known for rapid blood loss. During his evidence, Smith denied he was a member of the Beaumont gang. He stated that he left those circles a long time ago. However, the You-tube video clips which was shown in court proved otherwise. The police used various methods including his Facebook page, You-tube, CCTV and forensic evidence in preparation of the case.
On that fatal day, he stated that he just wanted to get away. He alleged that it was Mr Senyah who had the knife and that he took the knife away from him during the fist fight and used it to stab him.
Regarding the motive for the crime, the court heard that the reality was that Smith considered the Beaumont Estate as his territory. He had a problem with Senyah coming to his territory. Smith had been a member of the Beaumont Crew gang since he was 19 years old. He informed the court that Sylvester was in a gang called Full Soldiers and that generally, there was bad blood between the two gangs. The court heard that Smith’s parents had died whilst he was in prison. One of his brothers was in a Mental Hospital. The altercation was captured on CCTV.
Smith was on bail for Possession of an Offensive Weapon. He said he had been an understudy for a heating engineer.
The court heard that the main injury required at least moderate force. The knife went into the victim’s body about 8 centimetres, which was a deliberately targetted wound. Soon after he stabbed Sylvester, Smith went back to the middle of the road to pick up a shiny object, which he claimed was his mobile telephone. He said he had been in fear for his life, yet he stopped to pick up a telephone?
The Old Bailey heard Smith had fallen out with the victim and objected to him coming into his area on the Beaumont Estate. He will serve 14 years in prison. Sylvester’s parents wept silently when he was sentenced.
May God give them the strength to cope with this terrible ordeal. Rest in peace, Twiggy.
By Georgette Djaba