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Teenager gets 18 years for Westfield murder

Nii-Azu Kojo-Smith was sentenced to at least 18 years in prison today Credit: Metropolitan Police

A teenage footballer has been sentenced to at least 18 years behind bars for murdering a man during a "horrific scene of complete bedlam" at Westfield Stratford shopping centre just weeks before the 2012 Olympic Games.

Liam Woodards, who was stabbed in 2012 Credit: Metropolitan Police

The throwing of a yoghurt pot sparked the mass brawl between two gangs on June 29, 2012, during which Liam Woodards, who had been out celebrating his 24th birthday, was stabbed, the Old Bailey heard.

Nii-Azu Kojo-Smith lunged forward and stabbed him in the chest in front of horrified shoppers.

As the victim lay dying, the fight moved on to Stratford Tube Station where one of Mr Woodards's friends stabbed one of the opposing group.

Following a three-month retrial, Kojo-Smith, 19, of Hackney, east London, was found guilty of Mr Woodards's murder by a majority of 11 to 1.

Father releases tribute to murdered son

The father of a 24-year-old man who was stabbed to death at Westfield shopping centre in 2012 has released a statement about the impact his son's death has had on him. Liam Woodards was stabbed by 18-year-old Nii-Azu Kojo-Smith, who was today convicted of his murder.

Liam Woodards died from a single stab wound to the chest. His father Roy said the effect of losing his son had been devastating.

When I received the news of Liam’s death I was in shock. Since that day my life has not been the same. It feels as if a part of me is missing. It hurts to know that I will no longer hear Liam’s voice or see his face again. All the words of comfort and reassurance from friends and family can never change the hurt I feel inside. I had a very good relationship with Liam and his brother. I have fond memories of taking my son Liam and his brother Daniel to football on Sunday. I also remember the family holidays to Clacton on Sea which Liam loved. He would bring his friends along with us."

– Roy Savery, Liam Woodards' father

He added: "Liam was very outgoing, sociable and kind. I was proud to have him as my son. The pain of losing my loving son is so great; I would not wish any parent to endure this pain."


Teenager convicted of Westfield Stratford murder

A teenager has been convicted of stabbing a man to death during a brawl at Westfield Stratford shopping centre just weeks before the start of the 2012 Olympics.

Liam Woodards was stabbed to death at Westfield shopping centre. Credit: PA Wire

Nii-Azu Kojo-Smith, 19, of Hackney, east London, was found guilty of stabbing Liam Woodards, 24, during a fight involving two gangs on June 29 2012 following a three-month retrial at the Old Bailey.

Kojo-Smith was found guilty of murder by a majority of 11 to 1 after the jury spent 13 days considering its verdict.

Tony Canton, 22, was also convicted of two counts relating to disorder in the shopping centre while Anselm Legemah,19, was convicted of one count of violent disorder.

Sentencing will take place on Monday.


Man fatally stabbed amid gang fight

A confrontation in the crowded Westfield shopping centre just before the Olympics led to murder and a pitched battle between two gangs, a court heard.

Shoppers looked on in horror as Liam Woodards, 24, was stabbed in the chest after glasses and a yoghurt pot were thrown at rivals.

As he lay dying, youths began fighting, throwing metal chairs and brandishing two knives, the Old Bailey was told.

"It was a joint pitched battle," said Aftab Jafferjee QC, prosecuting.

Nii-Azu Kojo Smith, 18, of Hackney Wick, east London, denies murder at the prestigious site next to the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, on June 29.

Seven others aged between 18 and 25 deny violent disorder, while five others have pleaded guilty to various offences, the jury was told.