Teenager in Stabbing Case 1st to Be Jailed on Live Television

Teenager in Stabbing Case 1st to Be Jailed on Live Television
Undated images of Jermaine Cools (L) and his killer Marques Walker (R), who was detained under HM's pleasure at the Old Bailey in London on May 9, 2023. (Metropolitan Police)
Chris Summers
5/10/2023
Updated:
5/10/2023

A judge has jailed a teenager for life for the murder of a 14-year-old boy in London and said he showed a “lack of remorse” by writing drill song lyrics while on remand.

On Tuesday, Marques Walker, 17, became the first juvenile to be sentenced on television in England and Wales, following a successful legal challenge by several media outlets, which was supported by the victim’s parents.

The Old Bailey heard Jermaine Cools was stabbed seven times as he lay on the ground in West Croydon, south London, on Nov. 18, 2021.

Judge Sarah Munro, KC said the murder was a “senseless attack” which no reasonable adult could fathom and she said, “Tragically there have been many further murders involving teenagers since.”

She sentenced Walker to be detained for a minimum of 19 years and imposed a concurrent sentence for an attack on a fellow inmate which left him with brain damage.

Cools was the youngest knife crime victim in 2021 and his parents, Julius Cools and Lorraine Dudek, said they were “fully supportive of the widest possible reporting.”

An undated image of Jermaine Cools, 14, who was stabbed on Nov. 18, 2021. (Metropolitan Police)
An undated image of Jermaine Cools, 14, who was stabbed on Nov. 18, 2021. (Metropolitan Police)

At the time of the killing Walker, then 16, was on bail for two offences of carrying a knife.

A third charge of possessing a knife was dropped after a decision was made, in February 2022, that Walker had been a “victim of modern slavery” because of his involvement in a county lines drug gang in Welwyn Garden City.

In January, on the eve of his trial, Walker pleaded guilty to murder and possession of a knife. He has also pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent after attacking a fellow inmate while on remand at Feltham young offenders’ institution in west London in July 2022.

Prosecutor Caroline Carberry, KC said Walker and his associates became involved in an altercation with Cools and his older brother, Delaney, in the centre of West Croydon.

CCTV footage showed the scuffle and Walker running up to Cools with a large knife and stabbing him repeatedly on the ground.

Carberry said Walker returned to his home in Bromley then checked his Snapchat account, where several friends advised him to get rid of his phone, clothes, and trainers and lay low.

She said the police hunted for him for nearly six weeks before finally arresting him “by chance” at a flat in South Norwood where they had gone to arrest another man for an unconnected offence.

Walker, who was found hiding behind a bed, gave a false name to officers but eventually admitted who he was and was arrested and charged with murder.

While he was on remand in Feltham young offenders’ institution he wrote lyrics to a drill song which referred to him stabbing someone on the ground.

Undated images of three knives that Marques Walker was found in possession of between January 2020 and October 2021, in London and Welwyn Garden City, England. (Metropolitan Police)
Undated images of three knives that Marques Walker was found in possession of between January 2020 and October 2021, in London and Welwyn Garden City, England. (Metropolitan Police)

Attacked Fellow Inmate While on Remand

The court was also told that in July 2022, Walker and four other men attacked a fellow inmate, claiming he was a “snitch.”

Carberry told the court Walker punched the man to the floor and then all five of them began kicking and stomping him.

Two prison officers pulled them off the victim, who was taken unconscious to hospital. He suffered a bleed on the brain and was in a “life-threatening and life-changing” condition.

The victim has suffered permanent brain damage, including cognitive impairment, and will have to have long-term care.

But Munro said Walker was a “complex and vulnerable young man” who had suffered a great deal of trauma during his childhood, including the murder of his father and his cousin.

She told him, “Despite your youth you do present a significant risk to the public ... and it may be that you are never safe to be released.”

Last week a joint application was made by the PA news agency, The Times of London, The Sun, and the Daily Mail newspapers to lift a court order banning Walker from being identified.

A separate bid was made for permission to film Walker’s sentence and broadcast the footage online.

Carberry said broadcasting the sentencing could act as a “very powerful deterrent.”

Munro lifted the legal restriction on naming Walker and agreed to a live broadcast.

Justifying her decision, Munro said: “The serious nature and increasing prevalence of knife crime, knife-related homicide and violent crime … the consequent need for deterrence, the promotion of public confidence that the criminal justice system is addressing the problem; and the proximity of the defendant’s 18th birthday … all outweigh any minimal impact upon the welfare of defendant.”

Tuesday’s sentencing hearing was briefly interrupted when a commotion broke out in the public gallery and a young woman was thrown out. She began screaming at a man, believed to be Cools’s brother Delaney, saying: “It’s your fault. You started the fight. It’s your fault!”

PA Media contributed to this report.