Teenage boys found guilty of murdering 14-year-old Nathaniel Shani in Manchester

Boy A and Boy B will appear in court for sentencing in June. Credit: Greater Manchester Police

Two teenage boys have been found guilty of murdering a 14-year-old who was a "best friend to many".

Nathaniel Shani was stabbed in the neck and killed in an alleyway in Harpurhey, Greater Manchester, on 15 September 2023.

Two boys, Boy A, aged 14, and Boy B, aged 13, who cannot be named for legal reasons, went on trial accused of Nathaniel's murder.

They were found guilty after a four-week trial at Manchester Crown Court.

Boy A, who admitted stabbing Nathaniel, claimed he was acting in self-defence. Boy B allegedly 'encouraged' his co-accused during the confrontation while armed with a screwdriver.

Both boys cried in the dock as the verdicts were announced, with some of the public gallery and members of the jury appeared visibly emotional.

Nathaniel Shani died after being stabbed to death in an alleyway in Harpurhey, Greater Manchester. Credit: Greater Manchester Police

Following his death in September 2023, Nathaniel’s loved ones paid tribute to him, describing him as a 'best friend to many' who 'never failed to make people laugh'.

Their statement continued: "Nathaniel was very kind, caring and always thinking of others. He was polite and the most loving person.

"He would always put other people first without a thought. He was an amazing brother and son to his parents and siblings. Our hearts are left broken. Rest in Paradise to the most kindest soul.”

The trial heard that Nathaniel died following a row over cannabis being stolen.

Nathaniel and Boy A had met in an alleyway off Tavistock Square as part of a ‘fight to settle differences’, the court heard.

“In many ways that is a scenario that has played out time and time again throughout the ages," prosecutor Jason Pitter KC said. "However, this time it was tragically different.

“The argument related to the theft of some drugs, as we understand it. Two of the boys were armed and produced weapons. One with a knife and one with a screwdriver.”

Jurors were told that Boy A and Nathaniel had previously 'engaged in physical fights' after a 'fall out'.

Mr Pitter said of Nathaniel: “He was someone who, at least in his own immature mind, viewed himself as a hard kid who was obviously interested in a reputation that matched that.”

Nathaniel had become involved in 'street level' drug dealing 'through people older than him', the jury heard.

Mr Pitter continued: “Of course, there are wider social questions to be answered as to how it is that children of the age of these kids became caught up in this kind of lifestyle."

He said the trial process would not attempt to answer those questions.

Boy B had stolen cannabis from a friend of Nathaniel's on the day of the killing. "Nathaniel viewed this as a loss of face to him and his group,” Mr Pitter said.

“That included their reputation with those involved in drug dealing. As a result, he was determined to get those drugs back.”

An arrangement was made to meet to ‘sort things’, the court was told. "For Nathaniel this, the prosecution say, entailed a one v one fight with Boy A," the prosecutor said.

Nathaniel arrived in the square at about 6pm and met with Boy A and B. Nathaniel punched Boy A, who produced a knife and stabbed him to the neck.

Before collapsing in the square, Nathaniel was seen clutching his neck after being knifed. He was pronounced death at 7:08pm.

After being arrested by police later that day, Boy A in a prepared statement, said he was 'scared and shaking' when Nathaniel and two others had approach.

He said he believed that Nathaniel had a knife, and said he was acting in self defence.

Boy B handed himself in to police the following day. In a prepared statement, he said he had taken the screwdriver from Boy A, but denied intending to use it.

He said he had ‘not wanted the fight to occur’ and that he ‘felt bad about what had happened’.

At trial, Boy A admitted stabbing Nathaniel and said he regretted doing so, but he denied murder. He claimed that Nathaniel was acting 'aggressively' and that he had threatened to stab him.

Boy A said he had armed himself for 'protection'. Boy B admitted taking cannabis from another boy.

He told the jury that he became 'scared' after fearing another boy might 'hit' him. "I was getting a bit more scared, Nathaniel started getting aggressive," he said.

Boy B said he took a screwdriver from Boy A, but said Nathaniel disarmed him and threw it at Boy A.

The jury reached their guilty verdicts after about 20 hours of deliberations and the pair will appear in court for sentencing in June 2024.

After the hearing, Martin Hill, District Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service's Complex Casework Unit, said: “This is tragic case whereby another young person has needlessly lost their life as a result of knife crime.

"It was the prosecution case that both boys were acting together.

"Though just one of the boys inflicted the fatal knife wound, the other had by his actions encouraged him to deliberately inflict serious harm.

"Today after considering all the evidence presented to them, including CCTV of the fight, the jury have found them both guilty of his murder.

“The CPS is committed to working with the police to tackle knife crime. Our thoughts are with the family and loved ones of Nathaniel Shani and all those who have been affected by his untimely death.”

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