Man, 20, sentenced for murder of university student
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A 20-year-old man has been sentenced to a minimum of 21 years in prison for the killing of University of Northampton student – Kwabena Osei-Poku, previously known as Alfred.
Kwabena was stabbed by Melvin Lebaga-Idubor on the evening of Sunday, April 23, last year, following an altercation which started on campus.
That night, Lebaga-Idubor, previously of Northampton, had arranged to meet Kwabena under the pretence of wanting to buy cannabis from him. His real intention however, was to steal Kwabena’s drugs and warn him off dealing on Lebaga-Idubor’s patch.
With the stolen drugs in his hand, Lebaga-Idubor left the flat he had met Kwabena in and walked off campus.
Kwabena followed in order to try and get his drugs back but an altercation ensued with Lebaga-Idubor wielding a knife and stabbing him twice in New South Bridge Road.
Sadly, and despite the best efforts of police, members of the public and paramedics, Kwabena died at the scene.
Following the killing, Lebaga-Idubor called on his friend - Antonio Huian, aged 18, of Northampton, in order to facilitate his escape.
Huian took him to hospital, however the pair left without Lebaga-Idubor receiving any treatment and the clothes he had been wearing during the killing were then burnt in a metal bin in Huian’s back garden.
Lebaga-Idubor then tried to evade the authorities by travelling to Paris via the Eurostar with plans for onward travel to Nigeria, however he was later persuaded to come home and was arrested by officers from The Metropolitan Police.
He was subsequently charged with murder and possession of an offensive weapon with Huian charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Following a six-week trial at Northampton Crown Court which ended in November last year, Lebaga-Idubor was found guilty of both charges.
Huian had pleaded guilty to the charge against him at an earlier court hearing.
Today (February 7) at the same court, Lebaga-Idubor was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 21 years. Huian was sentenced to 14 months in prison, suspended for 21 months.
During sentencing, in which the court was packed with Kwabena's family and friends, His Honour Judge David Herbert, said: "Kwabena was a young man with many positive qualities. He had his whole life ahead of him. He was a loving son and elder brother. He was kind and warm-hearted and had many friends."
Earlier in the hearing, Kwabena's younger brother had a moving victim impact statement read out to the court, which said: "Alfred was the definition of the perfect older brother. He would do anything to keep us safe. He would never miss our birthdays. He would always try and include everyone. His confidence and courage is something I'll never forget.
"He was my big brother, a third parent, and can never be replaced."
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Simon Barnes, of the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU), said: “There is no sentence in this world that can make up for the loss of Kwabena but I hope his family can take some comfort from today in the fact that his killer - Melvin Lebaga-Idubor, will not be eligible for release from prison until he is in his 40s.
“I want to thank them for their support throughout our investigation, particularly Kwabena’s mother and father - Joyce and Ken, who have had to call on strength as a result of their son’s death that they should never have had to find.
“Their life has been devastated by the loss of their eldest son and they have to live every day with the pain of knowing they will never see him again.
“This is what knife crime does. It ruins families, destroys potential, and cuts short so many lives needlessly. Young people need to realise how dangerous carrying one is and what the consequences can be if you decide to use one during a conflict.
“Please share this story with the young people in your lives. Explain to them that walking away from an argument instead of pulling out a knife can prevent unimaginable pain. Tell them that by using one during a fight could easily lead to death. Tell them that you don’t want to have to go to their funeral.
“I am pleased that we have got justice for Kwabena and I want to thank Deputy SIO - DS Matt Bly, Case Officer - DC Mark Allbright, Family Liaison Officer - DC Lee Chennell, Receiver - Jeff Winfield, and the investigation team from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit for their work on this case. Together, alongside the University Policing Team and Northamptonshire Police, we got to the truth of what happened to Kwabena and put his killer behind bars for a very long time.”