A teenager has been found guilty of murdering a 16-year-old boy in a “horrific and brazen attack” at a busy south London railway station.
The 17-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, stabbed Louis Johnson to death at East Croydon station on January 27.
Mr Johnson was ambushed after being lured to a bridge over platforms at the station. He was than subject to a violent attack that police said lasted 40 seconds.
The 16-year-old admitted knifing the victim once in the chest, but claimed he acted out of fear he would be stabbed after he was threatened on Snapchat.
The teenager pleaded guilty to having a knife but denied murder. He was found guilty by an Old Bailey jury on Friday.
Judge Mark Dennis QC adjourned sentencing to October 16 for reports to be prepared, telling the teenager he must decide the minimum term he will spend at Her Majesty’s pleasure.
The court heard that the teenager, then 16, produced a large zombie knife when he saw Louis on the overbridge at the station shortly after 4.30pm on January 27.
Within a few seconds, the victim had suffered a catastrophic stab wound to the chest and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Giving evidence, the killer admitted that he regularly carried knives, having started at the age of 13 to “look cool”.
He claimed to have had previous run-ins with Louis, who he said had made threats against him on Snapchat.
“I thought he was going to stab me. I put my phone in my pocket. I saw him reaching for his waistband,” he told jurors.
“I pulled out my knife and thrust it towards him.”
The teenager claimed he did not intend to kill Louis but was found guilty of murder by the jury.
CCTV captured him running out of the station still holding the knife before he fled to Chichester, where he handed himself in to police after shaving off his long hair in a bid to disguise himself.
Three days after the incident, a knife matching the description of the murder weapon was recovered from a chicken shop in Tooting.
British Transport Police Detective Superintendent Sam Blackburn said: “It’s frankly unthinkable that anyone would think to commit such a horrific and brazen act of violence, let alone in broad daylight at a busy station full of commuters and school children.
“Louis was only 16 with his whole life ahead of him, and he’s left a heartbroken family behind who are understandably still trying to come to terms with their loss.
“While no verdict or prison sentence will ever be justice enough for them, I hope they can take some comfort in the fact that the individual has today been convicted and will now be spending a significant number of years in prison.”
Mark Paul, the head of the complex casework unit at West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, added: “I would like to offer our deepest condolences to the family of Louis Johnson for the loss of their son.
“Both the defendant and Louis Johnson were 16 at the time of the offence which shows just how tragic this case is.
“I hope this case sends out a message about the dangers of knife crime. Just carrying a knife in public is illegal and we will prosecute those who commit knife offences to the fullest extent of the law.”