Three men have been convicted of the death of a successful young male model when a row on social media boiled over into a violent street brawl in Shepherds Bush.
George Koh, 24 (01.11.93), a Liberian national of Broadhurst Gardens, Camden and Mersa Dikanda, 24 (29.05.94), a Congolese national of no fixed abode were found guilty today, Monday, 13 August of Harry Uzoka’s murder at the Old Bailey
Jonathan Okigbo, 24 (25.05.94), of Trevithic House, York Rise, Camden was found guilty of manslaughter.
All three have been remanded in custody and are due to be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday, 21 September.
25-year-old Harry, or ‘H’ as his friends called him, was fatally injured when a dispute between himself and Koh about a girl escalated to the pair arranging to meet for a fight.
Both had enlisted the assistance of others for the confrontation, which resulted in Harry sustaining fatal stab injuries in Ollgar Close, near his home address in Old Oak Road, on 11 January 2018.
The court heard that Harry was a successful young black male model, signed to Premier Model Management agency, who had worked for well-established brands across the world including Mercedes and Levi’s.
Harry was regarded as a growing celebrity in the modelling world and was well-liked and admired by his colleagues having cultivated a reputation as a laid-back person who was happy to give advice to help other people get ahead in the industry. He was regarded by many as the leading black male model in the UK.
He and Koh, who was also a model, were known to each other, though Koh did not enjoy as much success. The pair were not friends; Harry had been annoyed by attempts from Koh to emulate him and make contact with his friends, but there had not been anything to indicate any serious ill-feeling between the pair.
Events took a serious turn when a female mutual friend of the pair, who had not met either man in person previously, arranged to come to London from Paris in late December, 2017.
She stayed at Koh’s north London home, where she was surprised to discover that Koh had something of an obsession with Harry, refusing to believe that she had not met him before.
Koh further referred to Harry as a bad man and a liar, and then went on to claim that the cause of their poor relationship was that he had slept with a girl that Harry was in a relationship with.
The female friend met Harry a few days later on 9 January and the pair got on. She told Harry about what Koh had claimed, which angered him. Harry showed her previous exchanges between the pair on Instagram where he implored Koh to stop copying him and talking to his friends.
Over the following two days Harry and Koh exchanged messages over direct messaging on Instagram as a result of Koh’s claims, with Harry telling friends that he had to see Koh ‘to fix him’.
Harry and Koh had a heated exchange over the telephone before the row moved again to direct messaging on Instagram; Harry wrote: “Leave my name out of your mouth, it’s that’s simple, I’ve never spoken bad of you in any way, so this is wild.”
Koh, who was himself incensed at the alleged betrayal by the mutual friend, offered to fight Harry and urged him to bring friends with him.
On 11 January Harry wrote: “Listen come Bush station this is the last thing I’m saying to you, you’re a lost soul.”
Koh replied: “I’m coming.”
He enlisted the help of a friend, Merse Dikanda, who he asked to come with him to the planned fight. Dikanda agreed and the pair met at around 13:45hrs in Chapel Market in Islington. They then arranged to meet another friend of Koh’s, Jonathan Okigbo, at his home address near York Rise in Camden before calling a cab that would take them to Shepherds Bush.
They arrived at Ollgar Close at around 15:40hrs, close to where Harry lived, and then call records indicated Koh had phoned Harry to tell him to come to the meeting spot.
Harry was at home and could see the group arrive from his window. He called his flatmate, who was out, and informed him that Koh was there. The flatmate advised Harry to be careful and not to do anything stupid.
A friend who was with Harry at the time grabbed a dumbbell bar and unscrewed the weights from it to use as a weapon, and Harry did the same, and together the pair made their way to meet Koh, Dikanda and Okigbo in Ollgar Close.
The males confronted each other; Harry and his friend revealed the dumbbell bars, before Koh stated ‘are you mad?’ and pulled out two knives. Okigbo reached over to a black bag held by Dikanda and pulled out an object with a black handle, stating ‘I want to let this off at you’. Moments later Dikanda pulled out a machete.
Harry’s friend fled immediately on sight of the weapons, followed by Harry, who was pursued by Koh and Dikanda, both armed with a machete and knives, and trapped Harry against a vehicle.
Okigbo chased after Harry’s flatmate to ensure he would not return.
A brief verbal argument ensued before Harry, who was surrounded by the three men, was stabbed by Koh, three times, with one of the wounds penetrating his chest. He was able to escape and moments later collapsed in the street as the males walked off in the opposite direction.
Police and London Ambulance Service paramedics were called at 15:54hrs by a member of the public who found Harry collapsed and bleeding in the street.
Officers administered first aid prior to LAS arrival but despite their efforts, he was pronounced dead at the scene at around 17:00hrs.
A post-mortem held on 12 January at Uxbridge Mortuary gave cause of death as a stab wound to the heart. Harry had also suffered stab wounds to his arm and back.
After the brutal attack on Harry the trio had hid in a doorway, close to the crime, where unbeknownst to them CCTV captured Koh wiping a blade on his jeans. Okigbo meanwhile had removed a distinctive jacket he was wearing. The three called a taxi, which picked them up at around 16:09hrs from Askew Crescent, before all three split up and went their separate ways.
Officers from the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command launched an investigation into Harry’s murder and quickly established Koh, Okigbo and Dikanda as linked to the crime via CCTV enquiries and forensic samples.
During the course of their investigation, officers established that Koh had attempted to ‘lay low’ following Harry’s murder, cancelling bookings for work and unsucessfully attempting to delete the taxi account, booked in his name, that had taken the three men to the scene of Harry’s murder and cancelling his phone account.
He handed himself in at Colindale police station on 14 January.
During interview he claimed that he had stabbed Harry in self-defence and that a group of males linked to Harry had threatened him the night before at his home address, which officers were able to dismiss as fantasy because Koh had not been at home that night.
He was charged on 16 January, 2018.
Okigbo was located at an address in West Drayton, Middlesex on 15 January; upon his arrest on suspicion of murder, he remarked: ‘”Is it just on suspicion?” and asked how officers had found him. He was also charged on 16 January.
Dikanda was arrested in the street in Camden on 25 January. He was searched and in his waistband officers discovered a large knife in a sock-like covering, similar to that which he had been observed as displaying on the day of Harry’s murder. He was charged on 26 January.
During interview both Dikanda and Okigbo offered no comment. All three were remanded in custody.
It was established that Koh became friends with Dikanda and Okigbo through school when he was younger, and more recently he had sought the help of Okigbo, a personal trainer, to bulk up and help with his modelling career.
Koh said he enlisted the help of Dikanda as he was ‘street’ and scary, and Okigbo as he was big and can be intimidating. Dikanda and Okigbo, although not knowing Harry at all, agreed to assist Koh in his mission to meet Harry and fight him.
After the attack on Harry, each went about trying to dispose of material that could link them to the stabbing, Koh destroyed his knives and his telephones, Okigbo, destroyed his clothing and smashed his iphone 6 and Dikanda, destroyed his machete, his clothing and also two phones, which included a smartphone. This was all done in an attempt to evade justice.
Investigating officer, Detective Inspector Simon Pickford, of the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: “It beggars belief as to how such a trivial argument over what has been described as ‘pillow talk’ could escalate to the point where a group of men arrange to meet with weapons in a busy London street, prepared to seriously injure each other.
“Harry had worked so hard to establish his career in the modelling industry, and had so much more to live for. How sad it is that no one will ever know what else he might have achieved, and what a tragedy for his colleagues, who have been robbed of such a supportive and warm colleague. It was clear that Harry was a role model to many young black men and was an inspiration, but his life was taken in a senseless attack.
“The greatest tragedy of course is for Harry’s family, who have lost him in such a senseless way. I would like to thank them for their bravery and support during this process. There are no winners in this incident, but I hope this guilty verdict for Koh, Dikanda and Okigbo will give them some small comfort as they continue to come to terms with their loss.”
In a statement, Harry’s family said: “Harry’s death has been a great shock to everyone that knew him and even those that did not.
“He left a positive and irreplaceable mark on so many. We still find it difficult to believe he is actually gone.It was yet again another senseless killing.”
“Harry was a hard-working, committed and ambitious young man. He was a role model for all, especially young black boys, a high percentage of whom are raised in poverty and need positive influences to encourage them to stay on the right track in life. It is so important for young boys to see people like themselves from similar backgrounds doing well so that they can also have positive dreams and aspirations that they know are achievable. Harry was such a positive, loving and caring influence.”