Salone News

Murdered Sierra Leonean gets justice

27 December 2006 at 23:30 | 686 views

By Abu B. Shaw, Vanguard London Bureau Chief

The criminal justice system in England and Wales ushered in an early Christmas for the Sierra Leone community in London after successfully concluding a murder trial involving a Sierra Leonean woman.

It was a huge sigh of relief when the jurors pronounced the guilty verdict at the Old Bailey court in London on Thursday December 21, 2006, especially for the bereaved family of Zainab Kalokoh(photo), who was shot dead in Peckham, South London on Saturday August 27, 2005.

Four teenagers, all from Africa and three of them illegal immigrants in the UK were held responsible for the killing. Three are Nigerians and the fourth came from Angola. The three Nigerians, Timy Babamuboni, 15, his brother Diamond, 17, and Jude Odigie, 16, were all convicted of manslaughter while the Angolan, 17, who can not be named for legal reasons, was convicted of murder. The court heard that he is the most dangerous of the quartet. The Angolan, an asylum seeker, who is on the run, is to face trial for another killing.

The Old Bailey court heard that the four youths disguised themselves in balaclavas and were armed with a 9mm pistol plus a shotgun as they stormed the community centre, in South East London were the naming ceremony was taking place. The Angolan teenager is believed to have pulled the trigger of the gun that killed the Sierra Leonean woman.

Mrs. Zainab Kalokoh, 33, a mother of two, who was separated from her husband, was a health worker in London. She was cradling her six-month-old niece Adama when she was shot in the head with a pistol. The baby was drenched in Zainab’s blood but the tot was luckily unhurt.

In the pandemonium, the killers took handbags, wallets and jewellery belonging to the terrified party guests and put the stolen items into black bin bags and fled. About 100 people were at the party including children. Guests were ordered to lie on the ground while the gang ripped off their valuables. The crime scene is close to where Nigerian teenager, Damilola Taylor, was stabbed to death in 2000.

Mr. Alfred Sesay, the baby’s father said he heard a bang after he gave a speech. He said he thought it was a light bulb exploding. “The next thing I remember was Zainab on the floor. Then I heard another bang. I looked up and saw three men. One had a long barrelled weapon and another had a short gun like a machine gun,” he said.

Adama’s father told the press: “One minute we were laughing, talking and dancing - suddenly we were crying.”

The youngsters had criminal records before the killing. The brothers were under supervision for other crimes. They were also living with their mother illegally in the UK. At the age of ten, Timy robbed a group of school girls at knifepoint. Diamond also had a burglary, robbery and theft record from age 12. Odigie had also overstayed his visa and was refused permission to stay with his mother.

Prosecutor Brian Altman told the court: “Mrs Kalokoh had come to this country from war-torn Sierra Leone with the reasonable expectation that the UK would provide her with a peaceful, violence-free life. She was tragically wrong.”

The bereaved family has however called for the death penalty because they believe that would induce the gangs to throw away their guns. But Britain had abolished the death since 1965.

Of the four teenagers, three are already in remand and one is at large. They will be sentenced early next year.