Two teenage boys guilty of murder of Oliver Stephens, 13

Two 14-year-old boys who “ambushed” a 13-year-old and stabbed him to death after a dispute on social media have been found guilty of his murder.

Oliver Stephens, known as Olly, was attacked by the two schoolboys and stabbed in the chest and back in Bugs Bottom field, Emmer Green in Reading, Berkshire, on 3 January, after being “lured” there by a girl, Reading crown court heard.

The girl, aged 14, admitted manslaughter. She will be sentenced with the two boys, who had previously admitted manslaughter, at a later date. None of the three can be identified for legal reasons.

Jurors were told both boys had “grievances” against Olly because they believed he “grassed” on them to the brother of a boy they had mocked in a social media group chat, the trial heard.

They and the girl had shared several messages on Snapchat in the days leading up to the attack that demonstrated hostility towards him.

The girl said in one message to one of the defendants: “Karma – he [Olly] deserves all of this.”

The older boy also said: “I actually hate the kid with a passion – if I was to see him right now I’d probably end up killing him.”

Alison Morgan QC, prosecuting, had told the court that Olly was “unknowingly walking into an ambush”.

Morgan said: “[The girl] lured Olly to the location of the attack, in a place called Bugs Bottom, and she lured him to allow the attack to be carried out by the two defendants.” She added: “The defendants were motivated by perceived grievances with Olly.”

The younger boy, who was 13 at the time, used a knife to stab Olly while the older boy was fighting with him, the court previously heard.

The younger boy had admitted perverting the course of justice by disposing of clothing worn at the time of the killing, while the older boy admitted the same offence for deleting mobile phone applications.

A woman who was at the scene said in a witness statement that a number of punches were thrown during a scuffle, although the boys acknowledged that Olly was getting the better of the fight. The younger boy then stepped in and stabbed Olly.

While being questioned, the younger boy said he took a knife to the scene because the older boy told him to and that he expected Olly would have a weapon. During the fight, he said Olly reached for his own waistband and he assumed at that moment he was going to pull out a knife.

The older boy had argued that he was unaware the other was bringing a knife and was shocked when the younger boy stabbed Olly.

The trial was held in special circumstances, with counsel removing their wigs and gowns due to the defendants’ ages.

In a statement issued through police after his death, Olly’s family described the youngster as “an enigma” who “could get his own way with a wry smile and a cheeky grin”. They added: “An Olly-sized hole has been left in our hearts.”

After the verdict, the family said in a statement: “Today is a sad day. So many young lives and the lives of their families have been devastated by this callous and cold-hearted act. Knife crime needs to stop. Now.

“Our boy Olly was born to us at 21.21 on the 1/11/2007, he was taken officially from us at 5pm on 3/01/2021. He left our home on that fateful afternoon with love and laughter in his heart, with the hope of a bright, fun-filled future ahead of him.

“Within 13 minutes of leaving the safety of his loving home, Olly had left us for ever. Two minutes was all it took to end him and cause us and our family catastrophic heartbreak.”

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