Gang member stabbed 18-year-old footballer who had trials with Arsenal in gangland postcode feud

A teenage gang member who hunted down and stabbed a talented 18-year-old footballer over a gangland postcode feud has been jailed for at least 18 years.

Jonathan Abora was 17 when he knifed Israel Ogunsola, who once had trials with Arsenal, on April 4 this year.

Abora and his alleged accomplice John Paul Mokonzele, then 19, were connected to the E8 London Fields gang while Ogunsola was linked to rival E9 gang – both based in Hackney, east London.

Abora followed Israel in his Vauxhall Astra before the pair stabbed him six times during a knife fight which lasted less than 30 seconds.

Videos boasting about the gang feud had been shared on social media before the attack, which was witnessed by diners in a nearby restaurant.

Judge Zoe Smith said Abora fell into the “knife-carrying culture” after joining a gang at the age of 14.

The sentencing came after four days of bloodshed on the streets of the capital in which four youths aged 15 to 22 were knifed to death.

Abora, now 18, was jailed for life today at the Old Bailey after a jury found him guilty of murder.

Mokonzele fled the country the day after the murder and remains at large, with police unsure where he went.

Abora of Islington showed little emotion as he was sentenced while members of Israel’s family watched from the public gallery.

Judge Smith said: “Israel Ogunsola was 18 years of age when he was killed.

“His brother, father, sister and extended family are devastated by his death and their loss is irreconcilable.

“There are a number of aggravating features in this case.

“Mokonzele was associated with the E8 London Fields gang that was a gang to which you had been associated in the past and Mr Mokonzele remained your close friend.

“Mr Ogunsola was in a rival E9 gang and murder was the result of gang-based violence.

“Your childhood and nurture was disadvantaged from the start and you were exploited and brought into a criminal lifestyle at a young age, you were only 13.

“Much of that history explains how you came to be in a gang at 14 and to be part of a knife-carrying culture.

“I accept that Mr Mokonzele was the primary mover in this attack to which you gave your assistance.”

The court heard Abora had four previous convictions for eight offences, including one for possession of “a large Rambo-style knife”.

Prosecutor Catherine Pattison said if he was 18 when the killing happened he would face a minimum of 25 years behind bars, instead of the 12-year minimum for a 17-year-old.

Defending, Ali Bajwa said Abora was drawn into crime at a young age after facing “manifest disadvantage” as a child.

He said Mokonzele “was the first person out of the car” before the murder, adding: “What drove Jonathan Abora to become involved was past gang loyalty.”

Judge Smith added: “You knew it was Mr Mokonzele’s intention to kill Mr Ogunsola.”

A victim impact statement from Mr Ogunsola’s father said: “He was loved by so many people around us and people far from us.

“His death is so devastating to every one of us and the damage is irreparable.

“He was very intelligent and very supportive to his family and the people around him. He was academically good and intellectually sound.”

He said his son was pursuing a career in IT, adding: “It’s so painful and we don’t want any other family to go through this again.”

A statement from his brother, Michael, said: “Since Israel passed away I have generally felt like I have lost the meaning to life.”

His sister, Elizabeth, said she “practically raised him”, adding: “He was the most ambitious and hardworking teenager but his life was cut short before he was able to reach his full potential.”

Abora, who was also sentenced to three years for possession of an offensive weapon, had admitted he drove the car used to pursue Mr Ogunsola who had a knife on him but claimed the attack was in defence of Mokonzele.

By Lewis Pennock

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