Witnesses could have ‘withheld information’ about Streatham athlete's death

Sylvester Akapalara died after being hit in the neck by a single bullet.

A 'stop snitching' flyer found after the death of Mr Akapalara.

First published in Streatham by

A detective specialising in gang incidents has admitted there may have been witnesses to the murder of a teenage athletics star who were too scared to give evidence to police because of a “stop snitching” leafleting campaign.

Matt Gosling, detective inspector at the Metropolitan Police’s Trident gang crime command, said there had been strong support for his investigation into the shooting of Sylvester Akapalara, but said it was impossible to say whether some witnesses had been too scared to reveal what they saw.

The flyers that were found on the Pelican estate in Peckham where the 17-year-old was killed in December 2010, read: “No one likes a rat. Remember, the police are not your friend.”

D Insp Gosling said Nyamupfukudza and Adeojo “seemed to be the main perpetrators in the group”, but conceded he could not be certain whether more information had been shielded from police.

He said: “It is very difficult to tell if the leaflets affected the investigation because there may well have been witnesses who did not come forward.

“A lot of people did come forward, but you never know with these things.”

He added the Met was working to encourage gang members to seek help before getting involved in serious crime.

He said: “The message is, we want to get people out of gangs, but if they continue with gangs then we will come after them.”

Seven people originally stood trial for 400m runner’s murder but two teenagers – David Nyamupfukudza, 18, of New Cross and Sodiq Adeojo, 19, of Shurland Gardens, Peckham – were eventually convicted, while three people were found not guilty and cases against two other individuals were discontinued.

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