5:00pm Tuesday 20th May 2014
By Chris Baynes
Fico Dougan's family have spoken of their struggle to comprehend his murder after the teenager who stabbed him to death was found guilty this afternoon.
Sandra Opoku, Fico's mother, said she had been "living with numbed emotions" since the popular student died on September 25 last year after being knifed in the heart by 16-year-old Uriah Gardner, of Church Path, Mitcham.
Gardner stabbed 17-year-old Fico, who he barely knew, in an unprovoked attack in his half-sister's living room.
He was convicted of murder today after a jury rejected his defence lawyer's argument for a lesser conviction of manslaughter on the grounds post-traumatic stress disorder, following the death of Gardner's brother, had diminished his responsibility.
Speaking after the verdict his afternoon, Mrs Opoku said: "Trying to deal with the shock of losing our wonderful, beautiful son has been heartbreaking and very, very distressful for all of us. We struggled to find the words to express the pain and sorrow.
"We prayed for a new day to dawn on us and to take away the sheer misery we have been made to go through. We struggled to find the meaning for the senseless manner for which our Fico was taken away from us.
"The initial shock of it all has now given way to the reality that Fico has been killed by someone he did not offend and had no chance to defend himself.
"We are living with numbed emotions because we are struggling to be strong for each other and suppress the pain and sense of injustice.
"How can we ever forget what happened when we are surrounded by memories of Fico day in and day out?
She added: "Fico was very unique in his own way. He was very kind hearted, helpful and always wanted to out a smile on everyone’s face.
"He was at ease constantly expressing his love to me and never wanting to make me unhappy. He the man of our household and we could always relay on him to fix anything around the house.
"We now wake up each day wondering what he would have been like now and we ask what was it for? Was there a need for it? Will someone learn from the heartache and distress we are enduring?
"We cannot find consolation anywhere because the dust barely settles before you hear of another family being made to endure the same heartache and it brings back memories of our pain. We will want to forgive but how can we ever forget?
"It is far from easy and we will never be able to find adequate words to describe the impact of losing our darling son, grandson, brother and uncle but we will continue to take solace from our Christian beliefs."
During a week-long trial at the Old Bailey, Gardner's half-sister Tellis Miller, 18, and her friend Montana Riley, now 19, told the court he said rap music made him "want to stab somebody" as he listened to music through headphones on the afternoon of the killing
Uriah Gardner was found guilty of murder today
Fico arrived soon after to see his girlfriend Miss Riley. Within minutes, Gardner rose from his seat "with a vague stare" and walked to the kitchen, where he picked up the blade he used to stab Fico at least six times in front of Miss Miller's two-year-old sister.
Gardner's defence barrister David Nathan argued for a lesser conviction of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, suggesting the killing had been triggered by post-traumatic stress disorder following the sudden death of his "father figure" brother Leon.
The court heard Gardner, who turns 17 tomorrow, saw flies swarming at the window of Leon's house as he discovered the 28-year-old lying dead after an epileptic seizure two weeks before Fico's stabbing.
Dr Tim Rogers, an expert in adolescent forensic psychiatry called as a witness for the defence, told the court the teenager's flashbacks to the gruesome discovery were one of several signs of post-traumatic stress significant enough to impair his self-control.
But a second psychiatrist, Dr Phillip Joseph, called by prosecutor Martin Hicks, said he did not believe Gardner's brother's death was "sufficiently catastrophic" to trigger the disorder.
The jury retired to consider its verdict this morning and found Gardner guilty of murder after four hours of deliberation.
He will be sentenced on June 24.
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