London man Lennox Appiah jailed for life for murdering friend Renee Richardson in front of his young daughter

Rene Richardson was murdered in April

Rene Richardson, seen here, was murdered just after putting his young daughter in the car (Met Police handout)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A man who stabbed his friend to death just metres away from the victim's young daughter has been jailed.

Lennox Appiah, 24 and from Abbey Wood, was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Wednesday October 25 to life imprisonment for the murder of Rene Richardson. He will serve a minimum of 17 years.

Appiah was found guilty of murdering Richardson, also 24, at the same court on Tuesday following a trial.

The court heard that Appiah had lain in wait for Richardson and armed himself with a knife before he attacked him on Bournewood Road, Woolwich on April 1.

Appiah waited in another friend's BMW for Richardson to walk past. When Richardson passed the BMW en route to his own vehicle just after 4pm, carrying his daughter in his arms, Appiah got out of the car to confront him.

Richardson had only just put his daughter in the car when Appiah arrived, according to police. Despite the other friend's best efforts to diffuse the situation, Appiah made several thrusts at the retreating Richardson before eventually managing to stab him.

Richardson managed to escape and run back to his home, but collapsed shortly after arriving. He was pronounced dead at 5.37pm.

After the stabbing, Appiah drove off in his car but was eventually located in Bognor Regis, Sussex, 24 hours later. He was arrested on suspicion of murder. 

He gave two 'no comment' interviews before he was charged with Richardson's murder on April 13.

Detectives carried out a number of enquiries including speaking to witnesses, analysing mobile phone data and reviewing local CCTV, which captured the attack in its entirety. 

A bloodstained mobile phone, dropped by Appiah at the scene was also found. The blood on the phone was found to match that of Appiah. There was a one-in-one-billion chance that the DNA found on the phone was not Appiah's.

Neither the knife nor the clothing worn by Appiah at the time of the stabbing have been recovered.

Detective inspector Will Reynolds, the senior investigating officer from the Met's Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: "I believe that Appiah deliberately armed himself with a knife and chose to confront Rene that afternoon. He waited for him to come out of his house and on seeing Rene putting his daughter into his car, took advantage of the situation knowing that Rene would be unable to properly defend himself. 

"He produced a knife and began to attack Rene. Rene did everything possible to protect himself from the attack and his main concern was clearly the safety of his young daughter. Despite being held back and restrained by his friend, Appiah managed to break free and eventually got close enough to stab Rene a number of times before fleeing in his own car.

"In court, Appiah tried to suggest that Rene had produced the knife and that he had disarmed him. Appiah stated that he feared for his life and only 'waved' the knife in Rene's direction to scare him off. He went on to try and convince the jury that he never stabbed Rene and that Rene must have somehow accidentally impaled himself on the knife.

"However, incontrovertible CCTV evidence showed this to be a wholly fabricated account and designed to mislead the jury, who saw through this and rightly convicted him of murder. I hope today's sentence gives some measure of comfort and closure to Rene's family." 

Rene's sister, Natalie Edwards, said: "The murder of our Rene has shattered our family. Rene had a big personality, a kind heart and a caring nature and his absence has left a gaping void in our lives which will never be filled.

"He leaves behind his two children, who will never know the love that their father had for them."