Stratford Centre stabbing: Five men sentenced following death of Beniamin Pieknyi

PUBLISHED: 17:19 07 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:15 08 November 2018

Beniamin Piekyni, who was stabbed to death in the Stratford Centre in March. Picture: Met Police

Beniamin Piekyni, who was stabbed to death in the Stratford Centre in March. Picture: Met Police


Five men have been sentenced for their part in the fatal stabbing of a Romanian takeaway worker in the Stratford Centre.

Vladyslav Yakymchuk Picture: Met PoliceVladyslav Yakymchuk Picture: Met Police

Beniamin Pieknyi, 21, from Milton Keynes, was stabbed in the heart during a fight on March 20 while trying to protect his friend. The fight lasted less than four minutes.

At the Old Bailey today (Wednesday), Vladyslav Yakymchuk, 23, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, to serve a minimum of 24 years. He was given three years for violent disorder and 18 months for carrying a bladed article. He pleaded guilty to all three counts on June 13.

Kevin Duarte, 19, of no fixed abode, and Moses Kasule, 20, of Cavesson House in Ribbons Walk, Stratford, were sentenced to 12 years in a young offenders’ institution for manslaughter, and 36 months for violent disorder.

Kasule and Duarte were found guilty of manslaughter and violent disorder on October 12 following a four week trial. They pleaded not guilty.

Kevin Duarte and Moses Kasule have been found guilty of manslaughter and violent disorder. Picture: Met PoliceKevin Duarte and Moses Kasule have been found guilty of manslaughter and violent disorder. Picture: Met Police

A further two men, Alexis Gabriel Da Costa Varela, 19, of Lillechurch Road, Dagenham, and Mario Zvavamwe, 19, of Crow Lane, Romford, were found guilty of violent disorder on the same day. Zvavamwe was sentenced to 30 months in a young offenders’ institution.

Varela was sentenced to 40 months in a young offenders’ institution, as well as 12 months for a previous conviction of violent disorder, in which he threw bottles and traffic cones in a protest outside Forest Gate police station about the death of Edson Da Costa. Mr Da Costa died in police custody in 2017, and was Varela’s first cousin.

Judge Rebecca Poulet QC said: “All of you were involved in violent disorder which culminated in the fatal stabbing of a 21-year-old man.

“Beniamin Pieknyi had come to the UK four years ago and had made a successful life for himself. He was a much loved part of a large family.

Alexis Gabriel Da Costa Varela and Mario Zvavamwe have been convicted of violent disorder. Picture: Met PoliceAlexis Gabriel Da Costa Varela and Mario Zvavamwe have been convicted of violent disorder. Picture: Met Police

“It’s quite clear that that night, your group was intent on hassling and intimidating other people in the centre.

“Beniamin and his friend were behaving entirely lawfully and peacefully and they did nothing to aggravate you in any way.”

On the night of his killing, Beniamin and his friend had met at about 9pm in Stratford before going into the shopping centre.

The pair were repeatedly approached by the defendants, who were known to visit the centre to cause trouble.

A fight broke out and a security guard arrived to break it up. The brawl continued, and Yakymchuk pulled out a knife and stabbed Beniamin in the chest, giving him a wound 20cm deep.

At the sentencing, the court heard how Beniamin’s family, who live in Romania, couldn’t afford to attend the trial because they’d spent their savings on his funeral and repatriation.

Beniamin, who had seven siblings, moved to Peterborough in 2014, where he lived for three years. He moved back to Romania briefly, before settling in Milton Keynes with his brother and sister.

A written statement from Beniamin’s aunt, Christina Pieknyi, who also lives in the UK, was read out on behalf of the family.

It read: “Beniamin was a very quiet boy, hard-working, and liked to help people. He was also a good chef.

“That day he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and he tragically lost his life.

“Beniamin’s family were unable to give him the funeral they would have wanted to. Some are unable to put their pain into words.”

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