Mum tells son's teenage killers in Manchester 'he was your friend and you stabbed him'

Kyle Hackland was stabbed in the neck in an attack by his so-called friends
Kyle Hackland was stabbed in the neck in an attack by his so-called friends Credit: MEN Media

The mum of a teenager stabbed to death in the street has told his killers they will "never know how many lives they’ve destroyed".

Emma Gormley described the devastation the murder of Kyle Hackland, her 17-year-old son, has inflicted on her family.Kyle was stabbed in broad daylight, during an attack by four teenagers who claimed to be his friend.

Manchester Crown Court heard how Kyle was walking down the road in Withington with a friend who was being targeted by the four.

One of them blamed his friend James Todd after he had been 'set up' during a drug deal gone wrong the day before the killing.

Kyle, who had nothing to do with the incident, appeared to be taken by surprise when he was set upon on Southlea Road in Withington, at around 11.30am on 22 November 2022.

Tafari Smith, then 16, stabbed Kyle Hackland before other teenagers joined in with the brutal attack.

Smith, alongside Yousef Sesay and Lewis Ludford, both 18, were all found guilty of murder following a trial.

Alfie Benson, 17, who was not involved in the attack, but was the driver of a stolen VW Golf which ferried the killers to and from the scene was found not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter.

Smith and Benson can now be named for the first time after a judge lifted an anonymity order.

Hundreds left tributes to Kyle following his death. Credit: MEN Media

Ms Gormley spoke in court in front of the four defendants, appearing emotional as she made her statement.She said her son was ‘happy, outgoing and funny’, and had been looking forward to his future.

"He will never grow old,” she said of her son, who she described as her ‘best friend’.“All of the things we take for granted in our lives have been taken away from him," she added.

She told her son’s killers: "To those who murdered my son and those who helped cover it up, I want you to understand what your actions have done to me, my family and Kyle."On November 22, 2022, I received a phone call that changed my life forever. Our lives are shattered and will never be the same again."

"He was our absolute world. I cannot face the fact that he is never coming home.""I will never be the same person that I was before Kyle died. I still hope this isn't real and he will walk through my front door.”Ms Gormley claimed her son's killers had shown a ‘complete lack of respect’ during the murder trial, and alleged they had been laughing and joking in court.

She said: "It was unbelievable. To stand there and say Kyle was their friend but then laugh and joke is disgusting and shows a complete lack of respect."

"I have had to listen to these boys lie in court about what had happened, staring at me, not even admitting to it even though it was all on CCTV."I will never forgive you. If you can do that to your own so-called friend, what else are you capable of?“You literally stabbed him in the back. Kyle wouldn't have ever hurt anyone."You acted like my son's life meant nothing. You will never know how many lives you have destroyed.”

Yousef Sesay, Lewish Ludford, Tafari Smith and Alfie Benson (L to R top to bottom) have all been jailed for killing Kyle Hackland. Credit: Greater Manchester Police

Sentencing the group Judge Alan Conrad KC told them: "Kyle Hackland was a similar age to some of you. He had done nothing at all to deserve what happened to him.

"He had played no part in any robbery of any of you. Hypocritically some of you claimed that he was your friend.

"Friends do not behave as you did, attacking him, stabbing him in the back and leaving him bleeding and dying on the pavement.”

The judge also warned of the ‘terrible consequences’ of knife crime as ‘yet again’ another young life was lost.

The judge added: "Yet again this court has to deal with a case involving young defendants and a young victim.

"A case where a promising life has been taken, and young offenders face very long periods in custody, all because, as is sadly so common, the four of you chose to go out with knives and to use them.

"To reduce knife crime depends upon the involvement of many agencies. It involves promoting an increased awareness of the terrible consequences and the damage all round.

"From this court's point of view, what can be done is that the seriousness of the behaviour is marked by appropriate sentences, so that a message will go out to others minded to carry and use knives."

Kyle was targeted because of his association with a friend, who one of his killers blamed after he was 'set up' in a drugs deal gone wrong. Credit: MEN Media

The killing was caught on CCTV footage, giving prosecutors the crucial evidence they needed. They said that the murder was fuelled by revenge.

Prosecutor Mark Rhind KC said: "It appears from the evidence that he had the simple misfortune to have been in the company of James Todd on that morning."

Sesay had handed over around £1,000 to buy cannabis only to be robbed, the court heard.

The following day Sesay was out in the VW Golf car with the other three.Ludford said they were out drug dealing, when by chance they noticed Kyle and Todd walking down the street. Todd was armed with a knife and ran towards the car.The 17-year-old, who was driving, stopped the car and Todd fled down an alleyway. The other three got out of the Golf and turned their attention onto Kyle.Kyle was stabbed four times, as one of the three shouted 'chef him, chef him'. He was also punched and kicked during the 'senseless' attack.

As Kyle collapsed on the driveway of a home, one of his attackers told him 'don’t ever try to rob us again', before leaving him to die.

Credit: MEN Media

Prosecutors said the killers then arranged to be ‘taken into hiding’.

They got rid of their phones and police raided their homes, but officers could not locate them. The four handed themselves into police days later.

Giving evidence, 16-year-old Smith admitted stabbing Kyle in 'panic' after wrongly believing he was armed.

Ludford, who admitted manslaughter but denied murder, said he had been 'good friends' with Kyle as a child.

He claimed he only 'wanted to have a fight' with Kyle because he was 'angry'.Benson told jurors that he remained in the car while the fatal attack unfolded, and had no involvement. Sesay did not give evidence at trial.Sesay, of Denton Road, Audenshaw; Smith, of Lancashire Hill, Stockport; Ludford, of Aylesby Avenue, Gorton; were all detained at His Majesty’s pleasure, the equivalent of a life sentence for juveniles.

Smith will serve a minimum of 19 years. Sesay and Ludford will serve a minimum of 22 and 21 years respectively.

While Benson, of Wellington Road North, Stockport, was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

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