The mum of a 16-year-old boy who was murdered in an unprovoked attack in Abbey Wood has called for knife carriers to reconsider their lifestyles. 

Charlie Bartolo was stabbed to death on Sewell Road by a gang of five teens who were “armed to the teeth” with knives. 

In the chaos, one of Charlie’s attackers, 16-year-old Kearne Solanke, was accidentally fatally stabbed by his own friend. 

On Wednesday (February 8, 2024) Hussain Bah and Alagie Jobe, both 19, were given life prison sentences. 

Charlie’s mum, Emma, read a statement in court in which she condemned the culture of knife carrying in London. 

“I hope Charlie’s death is not in vain,” she said. “I hope people will look at this and reconsider their lifestyles, all this does is cause mysery.” 

Judge Neil Garnham KC echoed Emma’s words. 

He said: “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.” 

‘Armed to the teeth with knives’ 

On that night five teens “armed to the teeth” with knives and machetes drove to Abbey Wood with the intention of killing a local boy, as they were from a Thamesmead gang called T-Block. 

They set upon 16-year-old Charlie and stabbed him to death, who was riding a brand-new motorbike with friends on Sewell Road. 

Judge Garnham said there was no evidence that Charlie was involved in gangs. 

“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.  

News Shopper: Charlie and his mum, EmmaCharlie and his mum, Emma (Image: Supplied)Addressing Bah and Jobe, he said: “You wanted the perverse kudos of stabbing, or wetting, a boy from Abbey Wood in Abbey Wood.” 

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

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. 

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 Solanke Kearne Solanke (Image: PA)

‘Culture of knife carrying’ 

At Bah and Jobe’s sentencing hearing, prosecutor William Emlyn Jones KC told the court that both of them a history of knife crime. 

Seven months before the murders of Charlie and Kearne, 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. 

“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.  

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. 

News Shopper: The crime scene outside the chicken shop on Lee High RoadThe crime scene outside the chicken shop on Lee High Road (Image: Richard Cook @kingrickydarlin)

‘Utter devastation’ 

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Blackburn, who led the homicide team, said: “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.” 

News Shopper: Alagie Jobe and Hussain Bah, both 19Alagie Jobe and Hussain Bah, both 19 (Image: Met Police)Bah was jailed for life with a minimum of 25 and a half years, while Jobe was given life with a minimum of 25 years. 

Two other teens – 18-year-old Jake Debonsu and a 16-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons – were also found guilty of Charlie and Kearne’s murders. 

They will be sentenced later in February.