Two teens who accidentally killed their friend as they murdered another boy in Abbey Wood have been jailed for life. 

On November 26, 2022, five teens “armed to the teeth” with knives and machetes drove from Thamesmead to Abbey Wood with the intention of killing a local boy. 

They set upon 16-year-old Charlie Bartolo and stabbed him to death. 

Hussain Bah was driving a Nissan Qashqai which rammed Charlie off his motorbike on Sewell Road. 

Alagie Jobe, Kearne Solanke and a 16-year-old jumped out of the car and stabbed Charlie to death as he laid defenceless on the floor. 

News Shopper: Charlie Bartolo and his mum, EmmaCharlie Bartolo and his mum, Emma (Image: Supplied)But in a moment of “murderous stupidity” one of the killers accidentally knifed “one of their own team”, Kearne Solanke, meaning two 16-year-old lives were lost that night. 

“There’s no reason to think he meant to stab Kearne, but in the confusion and the chaos of the moment – no doubt I’m afraid, in the excitement – his knife found the wrong target,” Mr Jones said during the trial. 

Kearne was driven to Titmuss Avenue in Thamesmead where he was abandoned to die on the pavement. 

News Shopper: Kearne SolankeKearne Solanke (Image: PA)

‘The lunacy of young men carrying knives’ 

Bah, Jobe, an 18-year-old named Jake Debonsu and a 16-year-old were found guilty of Charlie and Kearne’s murders. 

The prosecution’s case was that they were all signed up to a joint plan to find and attack someone in Abbey Wood, as they were part of a Thamesmead gang called T-Block. 

At Inner London Crown Court on Wednesday (February 7), Bah and Jobe, both aged 19, were handed life sentences with minimum terms of 25-and-a-half years and 25 years respectively. 

Judge Neil Garnham KC concluded the sentencing by saying: “I add my voice to the many others about the dreadful consequences of the culture of knife carrying and knife glorification which affects so many of our cities. 

“The lunacy of young men carrying knives on our streets, often under the pretense of protecting themselves, has led to two more ghastly tragedies which have played out in this trial.” 

'Completely unprovoked and random’ 

On November 26, 2022, Charlie Bartolo went for the first ride on his new motorbike, a Christmas present from his mum that had arrived a month early.  

“Charlie went out that evening an innocent 16-year-old boy enjoying a bike for the first time that he had begged me for,” said Charlie’s mum.  

“Before he left his smile was from ear to ear. He was so grateful and thankful. Never did I think that would be the last time I saw my boy.”    

There had been speculation locally that Charlie was targeted because he was part of a gang. 

On Wednesday Judge Garnham said there is absolutely no evidence that this was the case. 

“Charlie did absolutely nothing to provoke this attack on him. He was out enjoying an innocent night with friends when he was subjected to an unprovoked and merciless attack,” Judge Garnham said. 

Addressing Bah and Jobe, he said: “You wanted the perverse kudos of stabbing, or wetting, a boy from Abbey Wood in Abbey Wood.” 

News Shopper: Charlie BartoloCharlie Bartolo (Image: Supplied)

‘Rot in hell’ 

Charlie’s mum, Emma, faced Bah and Jobe in court and read out a victim personal statement. 

Describing the moment Charlie died, she said: “In that moment my life collapsed. I was surrounded by police officers and I was to upset to see the upset in their faces.   

She told the court he was due to sit his GCSEs that year and had an apprentice in electricity and plumbing lined up.  

“He will not have the opportunity to do any of those things now,” Emma said. 

She told them: “All I can say is I hate you. I hate the way you stole my son’s life from him and I hate what you have done to my family.  

“I will never forgive them. My only hope is that they receive a long sentence and in that time they reflect on what they’ve done. Rot in hell.” 

Charlie’s dad, Tony, said: “Never in my worst dreams could I ever imagine that my son Charlie would be murdered all alone in the dark on a November evening.”   

“And for what reason?” he asked. 

Previously, Emma told the News Shopper: “I was invited to a memorial for Charlie at his secondary school where peers in his year group and teachers of Bexleyheath Academy spoke about their memories of Charlie.  

“It was clear to see Charlie was a huge presence within their school community and is hugely missed.”   

Emma said Charlie was surrounded by a loving family, but he gave even more love back.  

“The younger generations of our family struggle to understand why they can't play football with him anymore or spend time at the lake with him,” Emma said.  

“They miss his jokes, his laugh, they miss the care and love he showed them.” 

'You are, and forever will be, so loved’ 

Prosecutor Mr Jones also read a victim impact statement from Kearne’s mum

She said: “Kearne had big dreams and aspirations for the future. He would have made each and every one of those dreams come true.” 

He had enrolled on an electrical installation course at college and dreamed of owning a business with his cousin.   

Describing that night, Kearne’s mum said she arrived at Titmuss Avenue to see her son lying on the ground.  

News Shopper: Titmuss Avenue, where Kearne diedTitmuss Avenue, where Kearne died (Image: PA)“I collapsed to the floor as they performed open heart surgery on Kearne,” she said.  

“I laid with Kearne on the floor for four hours with his blood running down my hands.”  

She described the smell of Kearne mixed in with blood in the cold wet air, with the sound of medical machines beeping.  

After Kearne’s death, she said she lost the ability to continue with life.  

“I don’t think I can ever truly accept that Kearne is gone,” she said.  

“I will never be able to forgive myself for not being able to protect Kearne when he needed me most.” 

One of Kearne’s cousins said: “You were the only person I knew who truly loved life and lived life to the fullest.  

“We spent our entire live togethers, birthdays, holiday, achievements, summer breaks. Begging to stay at each other's houses as kids.”  

“You are and forever will be so loved.” 

‘Chicken shop fight’ 

During the sentencing hearing, the court heard how Bah and Jobe had both been involved in a violent incident in a chicken shop on Lee High Road just months before this fatal incident. 

On April 28, 2022 Bah and Jobe were inside the chicken shop when a young male opened the door then turned to fight with another young person was behind him.”  

The fight then spilled into the street and Bah and Jobe ran outside to join in. 
News Shopper: Lee High Road, Lewisham. Photo Credit: Richard Cook @kingrickydarlin Lee High Road, Lewisham. Photo Credit: Richard Cook @kingrickydarlin (Image: Twitter)

“Bah’s role in that incident was to remove from his waistband a large zombie knife and lunge into the crowd indiscriminately with that knife,” Mr Jones said.  

In doing this, Bah stabbed one of his own friends in the thigh.  

Mr Jones said Bah then stayed with his friend until police arrived then gave them false details.  

Bah’s wounded friend was taken to hospital where he was put into an induced coma and given four blood transfusions. He remained in hospital for three weeks.  

Bah was found guilty of wounding with intent in October 2022, and was released on post-conviction bail with an electronic tag a month before Charlie and Kearne were killed. 

News Shopper: Hussain BahHussain Bah (Image: Met Police)

When Jobe was arrested for his part in the incident, police found a large knife in his bedroom. 

At their sentencing hearing the court heard that both Bah and Jobe have an extremely low intellectual range and had unstable childhoods. 

‘Utter devastation caused by knife crime’ 

Charlie and Kearne were found a mile apart in Abbey Wood and Thamesmead. 

The Metropolitan Police said there was initially no obvious link between the two murders. 

But homicide detectives led by Detective Chief Inspector Kate Blackburn established the sequence of events. 

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Blackburn said: “My team of detectives worked relentlessly to identify the group’s movements across south east London on the day of the murders. 

“Even though some of the CCTV did not pick up their faces, my officers worked incredibly hard to identify them via their clothing including trousers and footwear. This was crucial in placing them together before and after the attack on Charlie. 

“I am glad that all four defendants have been found guilty. It was an unusual case in that the murder of Kearne Solanke, was obviously not what the group had set out to achieve. 

“However, we successfully proved that the group, in the course of their joint attack, intended to cause death or at least really serious injury and, one of their members was, sadly, an inadvertent victim of that. 

“This case demonstrates the utter devastation caused by knife crime and people who arm themselves with large knives, not only risk killing those they see as enemies, but also people they consider their friends. 

“My thoughts, and those of my team, remain with the families of both Charlie and Kearne.” 

Concluding the sentencing hearing, Judge Garnham commended the Met’s investigation as well as the courage and dignity shown by both Charlie and Kearne’s mums. 

Jake Debonsu and the 16-year-old, who cannot be legally named, will be sentenced for Charlie and Kearne’s murders in two weeks.