An East Dulwich man who killed a stranger with a hunting knife in a row over a cigarette in an off-licence was convicted of his murder today, (August 16th).
Jahmel Michael Riley, 24, of Lordship Lane, was found guilty of killing Dennis Anderson, 39, with a ‘large’ hunting knife in February in the Pay Less off-licence on the street.
The court heard how the victim, Dennis, had been returning from a 60th birthday party in the early hours of Sunday, February 10 and went into the off-licence with a group of friends.
Riley, who had been ‘aggressively’ asking customers if they would give him a cigarette, was already inside the premises.
When he asked Dennis, whom he did not know, the same question, an argument broke out – before Riley unsheathed a large hunting knife.
Riley raised the knife, reported witnesses, before Dennis stepped towards him and attempted to wrestle the weapon out of his hands.
CCTV footage at the Pay Less store showed the pair struggling before spilling out into the street.
Here, the court heard, other footage showed Riley on top of Dennis, making a stabbing motion in his left side, causing a deep and fatal cut to his neck.
The 24-year-old had denied murder, claiming he stabbed Dennis, of Lewisham, accidentally when they fell.
He had also told the court that he only had the hunting knife because he had confiscated it from two youths earlier that evening, and had not yet disposed of it.
Dennis’s friends dragged murderer Riley off their pal and hit him – and he ran off towards Crawthrew Grove, abandoning his knife in the gutter, the court was told.
Despite the ‘valiant’ efforts of paramedics and members of the public, Dennis was pronounced dead shortly after 3am.
A post-mortem revealed several cuts, including to his jugular, as well as his carotid artery and the upper lobe of the right lung.
Scotland Yard’s DI Domenica Catino, who led the investigation, said the case had filled her with ‘deep anguish’ as Denis’s death was ‘totally avoidable’.
“Witnesses of the attack, including close friends of the victim, and CCTV footage showed that Riley had chances to avoid the confrontation and then leave the off-licence,” she said.
“The two men did not know each other and Dennis was killed solely because he refused Riley’s request for a cigarette. That is the value that Riley places on life.
“My deepest sympathies extend to Dennis’ family and friends, particularly those that witnessed a shocking event unfold in such a needless manner.”
DI Catino added her praise for those who tried to keep Dennis alive after the shocking attack.
Riley was caught after handing himself into Lewisham Police Station with family three days after the murder.
Detectives had already spoken to his father and brother, having taken DNA samples from his cap – which he abandoned at the murder scene.
Riley is due to be sentenced on Tuesday, August 20.