Police thank witnesses who provided statements and gave evidence
UK: A man who murdered the 16 year old Wesley Sterling at a 16th birthday party has been jailed for life.
At the Old Bailey, the Judge ordered Carleto Salmons of Heath Road, Thornton Heath to serve a minimum of 20 years’ imprisonment.
Salmons, 27, was acting as a so-called appropriate adult at his girlfriends’ son’s birthday party, when he stabbed Wesley through the heart.
Wesley was an invited guest at the party on 17th April 2010 at the Croydon Sports Arena, Albert Road in South Norwood. The party was attended by some 200 young people.
Wesley arrived at the party with a friend shortly before 23:00hrs and told a female friend that he would not be staying long. With tragic irony she recalled telling him to ‘stay safe’ to which he responded, “I’m blessed.”
At about 23:00hrs a gang of uninvited youths tried to gatecrash the celebrations. Police attended and the trouble-makers were moved on without much fuss.
However shortly after midnight police began receiving 999 calls reporting a large disturbance at the Arena.
Wesley was amongst other party goers leaving the venue when they were rushed by a large group of youths, causing panic and a surge to get back inside.
At the door was Salmons who was dressed in a red jacket and was wearing a distinctive red baseball cap. He was brandishing the birthday cake knife he had taken from the kitchen.
Witnesses described how they saw him deliver a single blow to Wesley who fell in the foyer area.
A number of police officers responding to the calls of the disturbance were now at the scene and found Wesley lying on a ramp leading up to the venue. He had been moved and a number of guests were attempting Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on him.
Officers took over the CPR until the Ambulance Service arrived but despite their best efforts he was dead.
After stabbing Wesley, Salmons was seen to wipe clean the knife and leave it in the kitchen. Mysteriously officers were to later find it near to Wesley’s body.
A witness trying to resuscitate Wesley recalled someone lifting the teenager’s top and trying to push a knife into his waistband. Detectives believe this could have been an attempt to plant the knife on Wesley.
At 00:30hrs, while the emergency services were still tending to Wesley, Salmons and his girlfriend (the mother of the birthday boy) were seen walking arm-in-arm past a mortally injured boy, through the police cordon and out of the car park.
The couple went to a nearby mini-cab office where they took a taxi back to the Arena. Salmons’ girlfriend got out and he continued to an address in Streatham.
Salmons was arrested in the home of his girlfriend’s mother, by detectives from the MPS Homicide and Serious Crime Command on 27th April 2010.
Enquiries revealed the murder weapon belonged to a set which was owned by the birthday boy’s grandmother and was brought to the party to cut the cake.
Officers also noted Salmons had shaved off a full beard and changed the style of his hair which on the night of Wesley’s murder he wore in distinctive cane rows.
When asked for the clothing he was wearing on the night, Salmons told officers he had lost his jacket after leaving it in a taxi; however his red baseball cap was found at his home address.
Salmons refused to answer any questions put to him in his police interviews but did provide a pre-prepared statement in which he denied at any stage having a knife, being involved in any fighting and murdering Wesley.
Detective Chief Inspector Nick Scola said: “Wesley’s death has devastated his family and friends who cannot understand why he was murdered by an adult at a party where he was an invited guest.
“Whilst I appreciate there were violent scenes at the end of the party it is not an excuse for a grown man to deliberately arm himself with a knife and proactively seek to fight, injure and ultimately kill a teenage boy.
“Salmons’ response to the events of that night were totally disproportionate and his actions to cover-up what he had done following Wesley’s death were callous and cowardly. I would like to thank all the witnesses who provided statements or were courageous enough to come to court and give evidence. I have no doubt that their brave actions have led to the decision of the jury to find Salmons guilty of Wesley’s murder.”