Mother of teenager jailed over group chat says racism played major part in conviction

The mother of a teenager jailed for conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm says racism in the justice system played a key part in her son’s case.  

Taiwo Adedeji's son Ademola Adedeji, 18, was sentenced to eight years in prison in July 2022. 

He was one of ten boys described as being part of a gang from Moston in North Manchester, who were convicted of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to commit serious harm.

Alexander John Soyoye, known as John, was murdered on the streets of Moston on bonfire night in 2020.

Alexdander John Soyoye was murdered on the streets of Moston on 5 November 2020. Credit: MEN Media

Soyoye and Ademola, known to friends as Ade, were childhood friends who attended the same church.

After Soyoye was killed, Ade was invited to a memorial group chat which turned to talk of revenge.

Ade sent 11 messages out of more than 300 within the chat - one of which was a postcode for the location of someone he believed was responsible for Soyoye's murder. He left the chat shortly after.

Ade claims he was on the group for just 20 minutes. Three violent incidents took place involving two of the boys in the chat.

Ade had been head boy at his school and had secured a place at the University of Birmingham to study law. Credit: Taiwo Adedeji

Ade was not present for any of the incidents, but all 10 were arrested and convicted.

No one was harmed because of Ade's actions and nothing happened at the address that he gave.

However, the prosecution said that Ade and the others were part of a gang.

He claims the messages he sent on the group chat were sent in grief following the death of a lifelong friend.

His mum Taiwo told Granada Reports that Ade had been wrongly drawn into the case and was not a gang member.

A recent study by University of Manchester looking at racial bias in the justice system suggested that there was racial bias which predominantly affected young black people.

  • Professor of Humanities Dr Eithne Quinn was involved in a recent study conducted by the University of Manchester on racial bias in the justice system

According to the latest government statistics, white defendants have a lower average custodial sentence compared to other ethnic groups.

Black people were more likely to be prosecuted than their white counterparts and a greater number of children imprisoned are from a minority background.

  • Lucy Powell says young black men aren't treated fairly by the criminal justice system - with groups of them being labelled gangs rather than friends

Manchester Central MP, Lucy Powell, said: "It runs right through the criminal justice system, because what often happens is the police begin by charging a large group of people in order to weed out a confession or weed out who really did it.

"But then what often happens is those charges stand, they go to CPS and the CPS makes a case based on these gang narratives and it continues and then they find themselves in court.

"They are up in court against often a white jury outside of Manchester or somewhere else where people then assume that because they are from Moston or Moss Side, they must be from a criminal gang.

"They it becomes this treadmill that these people and their families just can't get off."

In response, a CPS spokesman, said: “We are aware of the complexities of prosecuting cases where there are allegations of gang involvement and prosecutors have clear legal guidance to inform their considerations.

“Our prosecutors carefully assessed the evidence in this very complex case, considering each individual in respect of each charge.

“They concluded that our legal test was satisfied and therefore it was right that we put these defendants before the court.

“The jury heard all the evidence and made their decision on each charge and each defendant, properly directed by the judge, and we respect those verdicts.”

Ademola Adedeji has a new legal team who plan to appeal his conviction.