Leicester

Antoin Akpom murder: Stabbing victim 'left a legacy'

Image caption Antoin Akpom taught sport to youngsters in Leicester

Football coach Antoin Akpom had been held up as a role model in his community.

But in September last year, the 20-year-old father was killed by a single stab wound in his back during a confrontation in Leicester.

During a trial at Stafford Crown Court it was alleged Mr Akpom had been stabbed over a "bad feeling" that had arisen a year earlier when he stepped in to help someone who was being bullied.

At the end of a trial, the judge said he was satisfied it was gang-related but Mr Akpom's family deny he ever had any involvement in gangs.

Hussain Hussain, 19, was found guilty of murder and jailed for life. The judge said he must serve a minimum of 15 years.

But the jury was discharged after it failed to reach a decision on his co-accused Abdul Hakim, 19 of Wood Hill, Leicester - he may face a retrial.

Leicester very soon became a city in mourning - a memorial concert raised money for Mr Akpom's funeral, which was attended by 1,000 people.

The school where he taught has also set up a sporting excellence award in his memory.

Mr Akpom's mother, Cheryl Armatrading, said she wanted her son to be remembered for the impact he had on people.

Image caption Cheryl Armatrading said her son believed he "had a calling" to help people

"He said he had a calling to do and he fulfilled that because he changed other people's lives and that's what he was all about," she said.

"I just want to remember the impact that he had on his community. How he put himself out to help others to enhance, develop and grow, and live amongst each other.

"The devastation that this one stabbing has caused is so great. It has 'turmoiled' the whole city from that one action.

"It's not right that innocent people should be killed in this way, it's not right.

"But the community really pulled together. People wanted to stand up against the violence and I was really grateful for all the support we received."

'Memory lives on'

Mr Akpom, who taught sports at Whitehall Primary School, was engaged to his childhood sweetheart, Amber, the mother of his one-year-old son Aquil.

He also volunteered as a youth team coach for Leicester Nirvana FC and had set up a sports coaching business with his best friend Joe French, with the motto "changing children's lives through sport".

Mr French, who was with Mr Akpom on the night he died, said his friend had an "overwhelming presence" over people.

Image caption Joe French described his friend as a "father figure"

"He had done more in his life than I'm sure a lot of grown men had done in their 50s," he added.

"He brought life to everyone around him and made such an impact on people's hearts. Not many people can do that but Antoin for sure did.

"His memory will always live on and I hope people will recognise Antoin for the good he did.

"A light has been taken out of our life."

Ms Armatrading said her family had been "destroyed" by her youngest child's death. She has built a shrine in her house where she lights candles each day and talks to her son.

"What has happened was a devastating crime and a good person was taken away from us," she said.

"I miss his voice, his laugh, his smile. He was just an amazing person.

"I'm sad, but also happy that he left a legacy behind. He had a life that others would want to follow and I'm really proud of him."

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