THE TEENAGE killer who plunged a knife into the heart of promising young footballer Ramani Morgan following a clash at a house party has been jailed for life.
And a judge at Warwick Crown Court ordered that Sukhbir Singh Phull should serve a minimum of 17 years before the Parole Board can consider his release.
Phull, 18, of Binley Road, Coventry, had denied murdering the 16-year-old one-time Aston Villa youth team player – but was convicted following a trial last month.
Sentencing him to ‘detention at Her Majesty’s pleasure,’ Judge Andrew Lockhart QC commented: “Not a shred of regret was evident then, not a shred of regret was evident in the trial.
“This court has heard not one word from you to justify or explain why you carried and used a lethal weapon that evening.
“You have shown no remorse at all. Any remorse is now, in reality, regret that you have to face the consequences of your actions.
“You argue that to some extent you acted in self-defence. I reject that submission.
“You decided to fight Ramani Morgan, you knew you would resort to the knife in short order if needs be.
“You were a person going into the street armed and ready to stab as a part of the fight you chose to begin.”
He told the defendant he had stabbed him with severe force, hitting him four times with a knife- both by slashing and targeted strikes to the most vulnerable areas of the body.
“I am certain that this was not anything that could ever be termed ‘over the top and misjudged self-defence.’
“This was a vicious and anticipated knife attack. You had taken a knife to the scene ready for use and intended for use.”
During the trial, at which a 17-year-old co-defendant was cleared of murder, prosecutor Michael Burrows QC had outlined Ramani Morgan was stabbed and killed on the night of February 29.
Mr Burrows said a girl had held a party at her sister’s home in Chandos Street, Coventry.
She invited friends who in turn invited others.
One of her friends said her boyfriend, Ramani, from Erdington, Birmingham, was coming over, while another friend had invited Singh-Phull and the other defendant.
Ramani’s girlfriend arrived before him and said one of the defendants had ‘tried it on’ with her but she pushed him away, telling him she had a boyfriend.
Ramani Morgan arrived around 10.08pm, just 21 minutes before he was fatally stabbed.
The girl hosting the party had become afraid the house would be trashed, and wanted everyone out.
After that, Phull whispered in Ramani’s ear and then dragged him outside where a fight started which Mr Burrows said ‘led to the death of Ramani Morgan’.
Ramani pulled out a knuckleduster and punched Phull two or three times, in self-defence – but Phull, armed with a large kitchen knife, reacted by repeatedly stabbing him.
“He was treated at the scene by a doctor from the air ambulance who performed surgery there and revived him, and he was taken to hospital, but died at 11.52pm.”
Mr Burrows said Ramani had four stab wounds including one to his cheek which caused injury to the muscle and salivary gland.
“He had a stab wound to the front of his left chest, and that was the principal cause of death. It transfixed the heart.”
Dr Alexander Kolar told the jury the wound to the heart would have led to death ‘rapidly but not instantaneously’ – and CCTV showed Ramani, who had no alcohol or drugs in his system, ‘running after he had been fatally stabbed.’
At the resumed hearing, Mr Burrows said: “In this case Sukhbir Phull took a knife to the scene, and produced and used it during the course of an altercation at night, in the street in a residential area in the presence of many young people.
“It may be suggested there was an element of self-defence, but there is evidence he instigated the violence.”
And he read a statement in which Ramani’s father Tyrone Morgan said: “Our son Ramani died on 29th February 2020. He was just 16 years old and had his whole life in front of him.
“He and his two friends went to a party with a young girl and didn’t come home. I tried to warn Ramani off going there that night and to stay locally in an area and with people he knows.
“We have never known or imagined Ramani would carry a weapon himself and can only imagine he took a knuckleduster as he was scared, or to protect himself if he was attacked for being an out of town boy.
“Although he would stand up for himself, Ramani has not or would not hurt anyone or start any trouble. He was polite and respectful. Having sat through this trial we still have no explanation from the accused themselves.
“Police attended our address just before midnight to tell us the dreadful news that Ramani had been stabbed.
“By the time we got to the hospital in Coventry he had died. Our whole world fell apart. We had to break the devastating news to his four siblings, and to his grandparents and many uncles, aunts and cousins.
“Ramani died on the day after my birthday and the day before our daughter’s 15th birthday. These are birthdays that can never properly be celebrated again without bringing back the horrible reminders of that night.
“I have to stay strong and pretend that I am OK for my wife and young children. But I am not, I am broken.
“No sentence will ever be enough and nothing can bring Ramani back or ease our pain.
“A clear message needs to be sent out so no other family should go through what we have gone through. Youngsters do not listen to messages or lessons given in school and there is no other deterrent to stop them carrying knives.”
Tim Hannam QC, defending, argued: “Sukhbir Phull did not go to the party that night intending to fight with anyone, let alone Ramani Morgan.
“To take a knife that evening was stupid. We, as experienced adults, know that. He was plainly not an experienced adult, he was a foolish, ill-educated teenager.”