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London: Zainab’s Murderer Gets Life Sentence

14 February 2007 at 23:29 | 415 views

A teenager has been jailed for at least 30 years for the murders of a woman at a christening and a student teacher.
Roberto Malasi, 18, stabbed Ruth Okechukwu, 18, to death in Walworth, south-east London, in September 2005.

Two weeks earlier, he shot Zainab Kalokoh(photo), 33, in the head when his gang raided a christening party in Peckham, south London.

Diamond, 17, and Timy Babamuboni, 15, and Jude Odigie, 16, were detained for at least eight years for manslaughter.

Old Bailey judge Mr Justice Gross imposed indeterminate sentences on the three, saying they represented a "serious future risk to the public".

They were convicted of Mrs Kalokoh’s manslaughter and robbery and were ordered to serve a minimum of eight years in detention.

The Babamuboni brothers were sentenced as juveniles despite doubts about their true ages.

The judge also recommended Diamond Babamuboni be deported to his native Nigeria at the end of his sentence.

He "strongly urged" the Home Office to consider the other three for deportation.

Malasi, who recently turned 18, was given two life sentences and told he would have to serve a minimum term of 30 years in prison.

Outside the court, Ruth’s parents, Ben and Pauline, praised the police investigation but said they regretted Malasi had not been apprehended sooner.

"If Malasi had been found soon after the christening murder, my daughter would not have been killed," said Mr Okechukwu, the pastor of a Pentecostal church.

Mrs Okechukwu was tearful as she described her daughter as a "lovely girl" whom she "loved so much".

"Malasi has not only taken Ruth’s life, he has taken my own life as well," she said. "I loved my daughter so much and she will never be forgotten."

The armed gang of four wore masks when they raided the party on the Wood Dene Estate to rob guests.

Mrs Kalokoh, who had fled civil war in Sierra Leone, was cradling her baby niece when she was shot. The child was unharmed.

Mr Justice Gross told the defendants: "What you four did that night was evil.

"In a cruel irony, many of the guests had come to this country to escape the violence of Sierra Leone."

Malasi, an Angolan refugee who lived rough in Peckham, was not identified as one of the attackers until a year later.

Just two weeks after the christening murder, Malasi dragged Miss Okechukwu out of her car and stabbed her through the heart after he accused her of disrespecting him.

He admitted her murder at the Old Bailey in January.

Credit: BBC News.