Romello Harley, 19, of Kirkdale, Sydenham, was jailed for life, to serve a minimum of 22 years, at Inner London Crown Court on Monday, 25 April for the murder of 19-year-old Tashawn Watt.
He was found guilty of murder and possession of an offensive weapon at the same court on Monday, 21 March following a trial.
The court heard that the police were called shortly after 9.30pm on 25 June 2021 after Tashawn, who was called Tata by his family, was found collapsed in Miall Walk, SE26.
Officers attended along with London Ambulance Service, but despite the best efforts of emergency services, Tashawn died at the scene. He had been stabbed in the chest.
Detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command began a murder investigation and started urgent enquiries to work out why Tashawn, an aspiring banker, had been attacked.
They established that Harley had been involved in an argument with a relative of Tashawn’s at the Watts’ family home a short time before the incident, which resulted in Harley being asked to leave.
He then armed himself with a knife before returning to the area where he tried to lure Tashawn to an alleyway, but Tashawn refused to go with him. Harley then stabbed Tashawn in front of his family.
After the attack, Harley dropped the knife and ran away from the scene. As well as there being several witnesses to the incident, the attack was also caught on CCTV.
The suspect went into hiding and officers began an urgent manhunt to locate him. On 28 June, he handed himself in at Lewisham Police Station and was arrested on suspicion of murder.
In a statement read to the court, Tashawn’s mother said: “Tata was well loved by everybody. He was a calm, kind character, he would walk away from any confrontation. I never thought I would have to bury one of my children at such a young age in such senseless circumstances.
“I can see that day so vividly and I relive it everyday. My house does not feel the same, it’s missing Tata. I wake up every day and expect to hear the boys talking, the house is now so quiet now that Tata has gone. I sometimes talk to Tata to feel closer to him.
“My last memory of Tata was him dying on the floor in front of me. I decided to go and see Tata in the chapel to try to get rid of this image from my head. Tata looked sad like it wasn’t his time to go, it didn’t seem right he was taken so soon from us.
“Tata is missing from every family photo. Every birthday, every Christmas Day, every family occasion Tata is missing.
“There’s not a minute or hour in the day where Tata doesn’t come into my head. I sometimes ask how I can go on. The fact this was done by someone who was so close to Tata and our family is hard for me to come to terms with. We showed Romello nothing but kindness and allowed him into our home as though he was one of our family members. I sometimes have questions which I know will never be answered. Why did he do this? Does he feel any remorse?
“Me and my family are happy justice has been done but no sentence will ever bring Tata back. I take comfort in the fact we have such warm memories of Tata. My Tata. Always missed. Always remembered. Always loved.”
In a statement read to the court, Tashawn’s brother said: “Tata is my brother and one of my best friends. Tata was kind, quiet, and humble. He was popular with our friends, nobody ever had a bad word to say about him.
“Seeing Tata die in front of me was so hard. I don’t know if I would ever be able to put into words how difficult this was for me. I felt so helpless. I wish I could rewind and go back to that day and change what happened.
“Going to court and speaking about what happened was hard but I knew I had to do it as I wanted to get justice for Tata. The trial was very difficult, as I felt like I was seeing Tata die in front of me again.
“I go to Tata’s grave every day so I can feel close to him and it’s hard for me to move on. It upsets me that Tata will never be there at any birthday party, he will never be an uncle to my children or see me if I ever get married. His whole life was taken away from him. Tata, my brother, I will always remember you.”
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Wood, who led the investigation, said: “My thoughts remain with Tashawn’s family as they continue to come to terms with the loss of their loved one in such awful and needless circumstances. I cannot imagine what they are going through.
“Harley took a young man’s life in a brutal, pre-mediated attack because he was angry at being asked to leave the Watts’ family home. It’s absolutely shocking.
“I am pleased that as a result of our investigation we have delivered justice for the Watts by ensuring the person responsible for Tashawn’s killing will spend a considerable time behind bars.”
A post-mortem examination carried out after Tashawn’s death found he had died from a stab wound to the chest.