Footballer, 16, was stabbed to death after knifeman ‘tried it on’ with his girlfriend, court hears 

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A Premier League starlet was stabbed to death in the street by two teenagers after a row broke out when one of the knifemen ‘tried it on’ with his girlfriend, a court heard.

Ramani Morgan, 16, was killed following a house party after having a blade plunged through his heart in Coventry on February 29.

Warwick Crown Court heard the former Aston Villa youth player was rushed to hospital with multiple stab wounds but was pronounced dead just before midnight.

Sukhbir Singh-Phull, 18, and a 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have gone on trial accused of murder. They deny the charges.

Jurors were told how a fight broke out between the defendants and Ramani after one of them had started flirting with the victim’s girlfriend.

He had also earlier turned down an alcoholic drink made by his alleged killers over fears it may have been spiked, the court heard.

The girl hosting the house party later kicked everyone out as she was afraid the property was going to get ‘trashed’.

Ramani Morgan, 16, was killed following a house party after having a blade plunged through his heart in Coventry on February 29. The former Aston Villa youth player was rushed to hospital with multiple stab wounds but was pronounced dead just before midnight

Ramani Morgan, 16, was killed following a house party after having a blade plunged through his heart in Coventry on February 29. The former Aston Villa youth player was rushed to hospital with multiple stab wounds but was pronounced dead just before midnight

At that point, the defendants whispered something in Ramani’s ear and told him to ‘step outside’ where a fight then broke out in the street.

The teenager was stabbed four times – including through the cheek and once in the chest – before he collapsed in a pool of blood after trying to run away.

Ramani, who played for the youth teams of Villa and Walsall, could not be saved despite an air ambulance doctor briefly managing to revive him at the scene.

The teenage defendants, both of Coventry, deny murder and manslaughter – and both blame each other for the fatal stabbing.

Opening the case yesterday, prosecutor Michael Burrows QC said: ‘On the night of February 29 Ramani Morgan was stabbed and killed. He was 16 years old.

‘The prosecution say his death was murder, and that these two accused are both responsible for his murder.

‘We say they both had knives. For their part they deny being involved in the murder.

‘As I understand, they blame each-other. And, of course, it is for the prosecution to prove guilt. The prosecution say this was murder by both defendants acting together, intending to kill or cause really serious injury.’

Pictured: Police and forensic officers at Clay Lane and Chandos Street in Coventry after 16-year-old Ramani Morgan was fatally stabbed in the chest on February 29, 2020

Pictured: Police and forensic officers at Clay Lane and Chandos Street in Coventry after 16-year-old Ramani Morgan was fatally stabbed in the chest on February 29, 2020

Pictured: Police and forensic officers at Clay Lane and Chandos Street in Coventry after 16-year-old Ramani Morgan was fatally stabbed in the chest on February 29, 2020

Pictured: Police and forensic officers at Clay Lane and Chandos Street in Coventry after 16-year-old Ramani Morgan was fatally stabbed in the chest on February 29, 2020

Mr Burrows said that Saturday night a girl had a party at her sister’s home in Chandos Street, Coventry, to which she invited some friends.

One of her pals said her boyfriend, Ramani, from Erdington, Birmingham, was coming over, while another friend had invited Singh-Phull and the 17-year-old.

At 8.45pm the defendants went into a nearby Premier store where they bought what, from a CCTV camera, looked like vodka before turning up at the party.

About 15 minutes later a girl was in the kitchen when the 17-year-old came in and said he was going to give her something which she was to hide.

Mr Burrows added: ‘He handed her a small knife with a black handle. The blade was about four inches. 

‘She hid the knife in a box on top of the washing machine in a room off the kitchen.

‘She said that [the 17-year-old] saw her do that, and that Sukhbir Singh-Phull might also have known.’

Ramani’s girlfriend was at the party before he arrived, and says that the 17-year-old was ‘trying it on’ with her, but she had pushed him away and told him she had a boyfriend.

Mr Burrows told the court: ‘Ramani Morgan arrived at about eight minutes past ten. That was just 21 minutes before he was fatally stabbed.’

He arrived with two friends, and when his girlfriend went out to meet them, she told him about the 17-year-old’s behaviour.

Ramani and his friends were in the living room, where Ramani was described as being ‘quite polite’ when the defendants came from the kitchen and offered them all a drink.

Mr Burrows said: ‘Ramani put his drink on the floor. He had said on the way they should not trust anyone pouring them drinks in case they were spiked.’

The girl who was hosting the party was unhappy about the people who were there and described the 17-year-old trying to get people drunk and rolling a spliff.

He added: ‘She became upset. She was afraid the house would be trashed, and said she wanted everyone out.

Pictured: Police and forensic officers at Clay Lane and Chandos Street in Coventry after 16-year-old Ramani Morgan was fatally stabbed in the chest on February 29, 2020

Pictured: Police and forensic officers at Clay Lane and Chandos Street in Coventry after 16-year-old Ramani Morgan was fatally stabbed in the chest on February 29, 2020

‘What happened outside led to the death of Ramani Morgan.

‘We know Ramani Morgan sustained fatal injuries. He had a stab wound to his heart. His heart stopped beating at the scene.

‘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 eight minutes to midnight.’

Mr Burrows said Ramani had four stab wounds including one to his cheek which caused injury to the muscle and salivary gland, and one just above his elbow.

He added: ‘He also had a stab wound to the front of his left chest, and that was the principal cause of death. It transfixed the heart.

‘He had a further stab wound to the back of his left chest which damaged the muscle and a rib and his left lung.

‘On its own that itself could have caused death, but the time-frame would have been longer.’

CCTV showed Ramani, who had no alcohol or drugs in his system, ‘running after he had been fatally stabbed.’

Pathologist Dr Alexander Kolar said the wounds were ‘consistent with the upper tier of force’ and the one to the heart would have led to death ‘rapidly but not instantaneously.’

The jury heard that when the girl who had hidden the knife for the 17-year-old went to check, it was no longer there.

Mr Burrows said: ‘The prosecution say you can infer it was one of these defendants who took the knife, and [the 17-year-old] accepts he took it.

‘Sukhbir Singh-Phull also accepts he had a knife and brandished it in the course of the incident.’

The 17-year-old said he did not produce the blade he had during the incident – and some witnesses described him having a knife, while others said Singh-Phull had one.

When the teenagers were arrested the next day, officers found the North Face jacket Singh-Phull was wearing, with Ramani’s blood on it, at the 17-year-old’s home.

When they were interviewed Singh-Phull made no comment while the 17-year-old gave a prepared statement in which he denied stabbing Ramani.

The trial continues.

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