What happened to Olly Stephens?
Case of 13-year-old killed by other children in Reading field ‘should horrify us as a society’, says leading officer
The murder of 13-year-old Oliver Stephens, killed by three other children in Reading earlier this year, “should horrify us as a society”, the senior investigating police officer in the case has said.
Two 14-year-old boys were convicted of murdering Oliver, known as Olly, in Reading Crown Court yesterday. A 14-year-old girl also pleaded guilty to manslaughter ahead of the trial.
The jury heard how Olly was stabbed to death in the back and chest on 3 January in Bugs Bottom Fields, Caversham, just over 200 yards from his home address.
Sky News reports how the boys were said to have had “grievances” with the victim and the girl allegedly described violence against him as “karma”.
“The trio had messaged on Snapchat in the days before the stabbing, and the older boy had written: ‘I actually hate the kid with a passion – if I was to see him right now I’d probably end up killing him’,” says the broadcaster.
They conspired for the girl to lure Olly to the field, where the boys started a fight with him.
Alison Morgan QC, for the prosecution, said that Olly was “unknowingly walking into an ambush”.
During the fight, the youngest boy drew a knife and stabbed the victim twice before all three fled. Despite attempts from members of the public and ambulance workers to save Olly’s life, he was declared dead at the scene.
The defendants, who cannot be named due to legal restrictions because of their age, were identified and charged by police three days later.
“After a five-week trial, and 18 hours and seven minutes of jury deliberation yesterday, the teenage boys were convicted of the murder,” reports The Times.
“Olly’s family wept in the public gallery while holding hands, with a signed rugby shirt placed on an empty seat alongside them to mark their son’s ‘presence’,” continued the paper.
Following the conviction, the senior investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Howard, of the Thames Valley Police Major Crime Unit, said it was not an outcome “where any of us should be celebrating”.
“The circumstances of this case are horrific, and will no doubt shock and appal people,” he said in a statement. “A 13-year-old boy with a bright future ahead of him has died in the most tragic circumstances, over a childish argument between a group of his peers.”
The three defendants will be sentenced at Reading Crown Court at a date to be determined.
In a separate statement released on Monday, Olly’s family said it was “an honour to call him our son, we could not be prouder of the man he would have become”. Calling for an end to knife crime, they said it was a “sad day” as “so many young lives and the lives of their families have been devastated by this callous and cold-hearted act”.