'Our son had done nothing wrong': Hackney boy, 16, murdered Joseph Williams-Torres as he sat listening to music in a van
PUBLISHED: 12:58 11 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:58 11 January 2020
A 16-year-old boy from Hackney has been jailed for 18 years for murdering Joseph Williams-Torres as he sat listening to music in a van.
The boy who cannot be named for legal reasons was sentenced on Friday following a trial at the Old Bailey, along with Hamza Ul-Haq, 21, of Burden Way, Wanstead and Loic Nengese, 19, of Arkley Road, Walthamstow who were his fellow members in a Walthamstow gang.
Joseph was sitting in a van with his friend in the evening of March 14 2018 in Essex Close, Walthamstow, when the hooded trio appeared and started tugging at the passenger door.
Joseph tried to pull it closed, but one of them drew a gun and shot him in his chest.
Joseph staggered out of the van and neighbours gave first aid until emergency services arrived, however the severity of his injuries meant he died an hour later.
Joseph's killing came about because of an ongoing gang feud, after Ul-Haq's friend Elijah Dornelly was killed in Walthamstow High Street in May 2017, and another one of his friends was stabbed.
Joseph was never part of a gang - but the defendants thought he was.
In a statement Joseph's father Tony, said: "Our son's life was taken because his killers thought he was somebody else. This is such a difficult thing for us to process and deal with. We as Joseph's family hold our heads high knowing our son had done nothing wrong.
"Our biggest loss is of course Joseph, he was so loved. He had the most beautiful personality and smile. He was so popular and had so many friends, this was apparent at Joseph's funeral.
"So many people attended, some of whom carried Joseph into the chapel. They wore T-shirts with Joseph's picture on, this was a really touching tribute to him. They were unbelievable and did our son proud."
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He described how Joseph had been arranging his 21st birthday trip to Sweden on the day of his death.
"Joseph was really happy about this trip," he said.
"Nobody could have known that just a short time later the evil that was lurking around the corner meaning Joseph never reached his 21st birthday and never got to go to Sweden.
"Since March 14 2018 my family's lives have changed forever. Never before have I been sat somewhere and just broken down crying, having no control of how this pain has affected me. I tried to keep it all in and to myself as I didn't want to upset my family or anyone around me.
"I find myself sitting in silence and staring aimlessly into the distance, thinking to myself why? What did we or Joseph do to deserve this dreadful thing to happen to us?"
The 16-year-old boy had dropped his mobile phone at the scene, which helped lead to his identification, along with CCTV footage of the trio making off.
A handgun was found during searches of the 16-year-old's home but the murder weapon was recovered along with a knife and face mask from a bag found by a member of the public dumped in Archway.
The three were all convicted on December 2 following a trial, and sentenced on Friday. The boy must serve a minimum of 18 years, Nengese was sentenced to life with a minimum of 21 years and Ul-Haq has been given a minimum 28-year jail term.
Det Sgt Ian Valentine, from the Met's specialist crime unit, said: "The defendants in this case were all part of the same gang and mistakenly believed Joseph was a member of a rival group. This kind of violent behaviour had become their normality and they are now rightly behind bars and off the streets of London.
"Joseph's family have had their lives destroyed by this completely needless gang violence and we need to make sure this does not happen again."