East London men are among a gang of 13 who have been convicted for their roles in a cannabis farm robbery which led to a man being brutally murdered. 

Xhovan Pepaj, 25, was beaten and stabbed to death on Caley Road in Tunbridge Wells, Kent on December 4, 2021. 

It is understood that Xhovan was killed after he challenged the gang, who had travelled from Essex to Kent in three vehicles to steal large qualities of cannabis. 

Ciaran Stewart, 20, of Curtis Road, Hornchurch, Kelvin Amoako, 18, of Norfolk Road, Seven Kings, and Bartosz Malawski, 28, of Mitcham Road, Croydon were all sentenced to life for Xhovan’s murder. 

Stewart will serve a minimum of 26 years, and Amoako and Malawski will each serve a minimum of 22 years.

Romford Recorder: Bartosz Malawski, 28, from Croydon, who has been jailed for life for murderBartosz Malawski, 28, from Croydon, who has been jailed for life for murder (Image: Kent Police)

Det Supt Gavin Moss said: “Things started to go wrong when associates of the victim arrived at the property and this quickly escalated with tragic consequences. 

“Ciaran Stewart called 999 in fear of his life and was heard by the call handler shouting to Amoako to stab Mr Pepaj. The victim was repeatedly attacked with a knife and beaten and stood no chance of defending himself.” 

Police were called to the address during the early hours of the morning and officers found cannabis plants discarded along the road leading up to the property. 

A locked metal gate initially prevented officers from entering the upstairs of the building but when they gained entry they found Xhovan suffering multiple stab wounds. 

He was declared dead at the scene and a bloodstained knife was found nearby, but the gang had fled. 

DS Moss said: “It says a lot about their mentality that as some of the offenders drove from the scene they appeared oblivious to the fact someone had just been murdered and instead filmed themselves bragging and laughing about the drugs they had stolen.” 

Charges were secured against 13 men and due to the number of defendants the case was split into two trials at separate courts. 

Romford Recorder: Donte Simpson-Palmer (left) and Nathan Rainforth (right)Donte Simpson-Palmer (left) and Nathan Rainforth (right) (Image: Kent Police)

Nathan Rainforth, 22, of Gloucester Road, Pilgrims Hatch, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years, while Donte Simpson-Palmer, 19, of Evesham Walk, Myatts Fields South, Brixton, was jailed for six years, both for manslaughter and conspiracy to commit robbery. Rainforth had been acquitted of murder. 

Charles Reilly, 28, of Roman Road, Mountnessing, received 10 years and Mohammed Miah, 26, of Highfield Road, Collier Row, was jailed for six-and-a-half years, both for conspiracy to commit robbery. Reilly was acquitted of murder and manslaughter. 

Romford Recorder: Charles Reilly (left) and Mohammed Miah (right)Charles Reilly (left) and Mohammed Miah (right) (Image: Kent Police)

Ray Renda, 23, of Albany Road, Pilgrims Hatch, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and conspiracy to commit robbery. 

Jonathan Hedges, 26, of Walton Road, Collier Row, Nathan Turner, 30, of Myrtle Road, Warley, Zach Cutting, 25, of Roundhills, Waltham Abbey, Glen Hough, 52, of Larchwood Gardens, Pilgrims Hatch, and Fabian Szymula, 21, of Callan Grove, South Ockendon, were all convicted of conspiracy to rob. 

The remaining six individuals will be sentenced in October. 

DS Moss said: “We have worked relentlessly to ensure every single offender involved in this incident has faced justice and the lengthy prison sentences reflect the senseless loss of life and needless violence associated with the supply of drugs.”