A killer has been handed a life sentence in his absence for stabbing a young rap artist to death while wearing a skull mask popularised by the Call Of Duty video games.
Drug dealing “enforcer” Timothy Adeoye, 20, refused to attend the Old Bailey on Monday, when he was locked up for at least 23 years for murdering 18-year-old Donavan Allen.
It comes five days after the Ministry of Justice announced planned legislation to make defendants attend sentencing hearings, including by force if needed.
Adeoye, known as T-Trapz, denied being the person behind the distinctive mask.
He was found guilty of murder, having a knife and threatening another person with a blade.
On Monday, Mr Allen’s family gathered at the Old Bailey for Adeoye’s sentencing – only to learn he had refused to leave Pentonville prison.
In a victim impact read to the court, Mr Allen’s father Orlando said his son was excited about writing lyrics, making rap videos and performing.
He said: “I was there when he was born and held him with my own hands and I used my own hands to shovel the dirt to bury him. Timothy, why did you kill my son?”
Judge Philip Katz KC said Adeoye’s decision not to attend his sentencing showed a “lack of empathy, and cowardice”.
The judge described Mr Allen as an extroverted and popular young man surrounded by a loving family and “positive energy at the start of a promising career as a performing rap artist”.
Unfortunately, the judge said, at least one of his friends had gone down a “negative” path and become involved in drug dealing.
The judge said: “There is no evidence Donavan was involved himself in the dangerous world of drug dealing, which I’m sure was the backdrop to his murder.
“I am 100% sure this was a planned attack to some degree to do with drug dealing. It is a mystery as to quite whether it was (over) debt or territory because no one has told the truth about it. I’m satisfied (Adeoye) was out and about with a knife acting as an enforcer.”
The judge handed Adeoye a further 12 months’ detention for having the knife and 18 months for threatening a neighbour with the blade to run concurrently with his life sentence.
Previously, prosecutor Alan Gardner KC said the defendant travelled from Barking in east London to Enfield on the day of the murder while carrying a knife.
Just after 2.30pm, he appeared on CCTV footage at Barking Station wearing his “very distinctive face mask”.
He spent some time walking around the Enfield area looking for the victim’s friend, the court was told.
Learning where he might find the man, Adeoye went to a flat said to be used as a “drug house” and threatened to “shank up” the occupants.
When Mr Allen and his friend arrived, the defendant grabbed a second larger knife from the kitchen and went to confront them, only to be interrupted by a neighbour.
Adeoye followed them and confronted them again and, during an exchange, Mr Allen was stabbed.
Mr Gardner said: “It was an unprovoked and motiveless attack. There is some evidence that the defendant had an issue with (the victim’s friend), likely connected with drugs, but there is no evidence that he had any issue with Donavan Allen.”
Mr Allen collapsed in a nearby stairwell and died soon afterwards, the court was told.
His friend gave his mobile phone to a neighbour so they could call 999.
He was heard in the background naming the attacker, saying: “It’s T-Trapz. I screwed someone, T-Trapz is looking for me.”
Adeoye fled and dumped the knife in a drain outside the block of flats.
It was found the next day and tests linked it by DNA to the victim and killer.
Adeoye later sent a text message to Mr Allen’s friend saying: “Better not (rat emoji)”, jurors heard.
The defendant left London and travelled to Bristol and Wiltshire, where he was arrested three days later.