A father whose teenage son was stabbed to death at the climax of a YouTube feud today called for a clampdown on videos that glorify violence.
Jermaine Goupall, 15, was ambushed in Thornton Heath in August last year by knife-wielding thugs who wrongly believed he was a rival gang member.
His killers, including teenage couple Junior Simpson, 17, and Saskia Haye-Elliot, 18, who hunted down and stabbed Jermaine, were jailed last week. Simpson, along with Samuel Oliver-Rowland, 18, and 21-year-old Adam Benzahi were convicted of murder at the Old Bailey, while Haye-Elliot was found guilty of manslaughter.
Oliver-Rowland was sentenced to a minimum term of 20 years, Benzahi to 22 years and Simpson a minimum of 18 years. Haye-Elliot was sentenced to 12 and a half years.
They were all allegedly connected to the CR0 gang in south London, rivals of the nearby CR7 gang, both named after their postcodes. Tensions had been running high after Simpson had appeared in a video seen to be taunting the CR7 gang, showing him forming the acronym CR0 with his fingers, while wearing a machete tucked into his waistband. The video — which attracted more than 80,000 hits — made reference to “shanking”, a slang term for stabbing.
At an earlier hearing, prosecutor Mukul Chawla QC said the attackers donned masks or balaclavas, adding: “They were nothing more than a marauding gang of thugs who had gone… to hunt down anyone they thought was from the CR7 gang unfortunate enough to get in their way.”
Jermaine’s father Stanley Goupall, 51, told the Standard: “I would like YouTube to moderate these videos. These videos are inciting murder. The gangs use these videos to call each other out. If thousands of other young people see these videos, then the other side will get embarrassed and will react.”
Jermaine, who dreamt of becoming an architect and attended Sunday school, was walking with a friend when he was chased by the attackers. The Old Bailey heard how Simpson, Oliver-Rowland and Benzahi sprang from a Ford Focus before stabbing Jermaine to death. Haye-Elliot used the car to pursue Jermaine’s friend, who survived.
Mayor Sadiq Khan has previously said of YouTube: “It is vital that they toughen up their guidelines, remove breaches immediately and work with partners to help ensure such horrific videos do not reappear. Lives could depend on it.” A YouTube spokesman said: “Our hearts go out to Jermaine’s family. We do not allow videos that are abusive or that promote violence.
“We work closely with the Metropolitan Police and act quickly to review and remove them when they violate our policies. We have developed policies to help tackle knife and gang crime.”