Friends of a schoolboy stabbed and kicked to death by a gang revealed how he came to London in search of a better life after his parents died in his native Nigeria.
Fifteen-year-old Sunday Essiet was chased and killed by a group of six youths following a row as he walked through the Glyndon Estate in Plumstead.
Witnesses described how the teenager was "kicked like a football" and stabbed repeatedly after being pulled from a wall in Invermore Place. He was the fifth teenager to be murdered in London in 2008.
Today Sunday's friends said he had been sent from Nigeria at the age of six or seven having become orphaned following the deaths of both his parents.
Sunday's best friend Abu Mansaray, 17, said the news of his death had still not sunk in. He said: "I was like a brother to him. He was struggling, struggling all his life - coming here from Nigeria at primary school age for a better life. But he was a happy boy, and loved football and supported Manchester United.
"When he was around everyone was happy. He was so funny, always cracking jokes - that is why we can never forget him."
Sunday, a Year 11 pupil at Geoffrey Chaucer Technology College in Southwark, was staying with a guardian in the UK.
It is thought he was attacked by a Somalian gang dealing crack and heroin in the area. Locals suggested the death was linked to a drug "turf war" between the Somali gang and the T-Block gang from Thamesmead. But Mr Mansaray insisted that Sunday was not in a gang.
He added: "He was sick - he had bad asthma. He was at school, studying for his GCSEs. I kept telling him, 'just one more year until you're finished'. He was focused on doing well.
"Everyone is crying. We are all still so shocked. Everyone thinks it is a dream but we are all having the same dream.
"I am, still wishing it is not him. His girlfriendis just crying all the time too." Another friend, who did not want to be named, said: "His parents are dead. He was a good, sweet kid, Everyone knew him, he was such a popular guy."
The attack took place at just after 4pm on a Tuesday. A boy, thought to be Sunday's friend, ran into nearby Greenwich Community College to beg for help. A security guard raised the alarm. Sheila Moss, 40, saw the assault. She said: "They kicked him like a football and stamped on him. They made sure he was dead."
Paul Whisker, 53, who telephoned the ambulance and stayed with the victim until the emergency services arrived, said: "He had a lot of blood coming from his mouth. There was blood all over the road.
"The victim was lying on his side. His eyes were open but you could see there was no life there. He was gazing into space."
Detective Superintendent Phil Adams, leading the murder investigation, said: "This incident has taken place in the middle of an estate, with a number of properties overlooking not only the initial incident but the subsequent fatal assault.
"I am pleased to say we've already had a large number of people from the local community come forward, but we would still like to hear from anyone who witnessed the incident or who has information."
A witness who gave evidence against four thugs who stabbed a teenager to death had his face scarred by an acid attack.
The incident was believed to be in retribution after the victim testified against the killers of 15-year-old Sunday Essiet, from Southwark, south east London, who was stabbed to death in Plumstead in February 2008.
Sunday's aunt, who was too scared to give her name, claimed the witness had been taken into police protection.
“We're all still in shock and we're scared,” she said. “Right now they're not even telling us his whereabouts. We don't know how bad the injury is. The case is still being investigated at the moment.”
She is particularly fearful for Sunday's sister, Blessing, 19, who still lives with her in Southwark. She told the Standard: “Blessing is the only thing we've got now. We don't want anything to happen to her. She's not allowed to talk to anybody. It's for her own protection.”
Speaking of the family at large she added: “All the parents are scared about what could happen to their children.”
Sunday was knifed nine times in the back as he begged his killers to spare his life in what is believed to have been a turf war between the T-Block gang from Thamesmead and a Somali gang who were dealing crack and heroin.
In April 2009, Adeniyi Oloyede, 19, from Thamesmead, who ask also known as Knifer, was jailed for a minimum of 13 years while Miles Maddy, 19, also from Thamesmead, was jailed for at least 15 years. Sikiru Doherty, 20, from Woolwich, and Ifedotun Gbadebo-Araoye, 19, from Charlton, were both sentenced to a minimum of 16 years.
Gbadebo-Araoye was also convicted of the knife-point robbery of a chain and sentenced to another seven years to run concurrently.
Locals said Sunday lived with another aunt in a block called Rivet House in Cooper's Road off Old Kent Road prior to his death.
Both his parents were dead, so the Nigerian-born youngster had previously lived with various family members around the area.
Despite their relatively young ages, all the defendants have previous convictions, cautions or reprimands for related violence, including possession of a bladed article, common assault, robbery and affray.
After they were led to the cells Edward Brown QC prosecuting told the court of the attack on the witness who had been granted anonymity and gave evidence from behind a screen.
A clearly shocked Judge Timothy Pontius said: “Whatever measures the court can apply sometimes, I fear, they are not sufficient.
“This witness has the court's sympathy and its thanks for having the courage to come to court and give evidence about what he had seen.”