Two 17-year-old boys, Prabjeet Veadhesa and Sukhman Shergill, have received life sentences for the murder of a 16-year-old boy in a tragic case of mistaken identity. The victim, Ronan Kanda, was fatally stabbed by the defendants as he made his way to a friend’s house in Wolverhampton last year, intending to purchase a PlayStation controller.
During the trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court, it was revealed that Veadhesa and Shergill ambushed Ronan from behind, inflicting the fatal wound that pierced his heart. The motive behind the attack stemmed from a dispute over an unpaid debt involving one of Ronan’s friends.
Veadhesa, who had acquired a set of ninja swords and a large machete through an online purchase on the day of the incident, has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 18 years. Shergill, found guilty of joint enterprise in the murder, has also received a life sentence with a minimum term of 16 years.
This verdict marks the first time that the identities of Prabjeet Veadhesa and Sukhman Shergill can be disclosed due to their age. The tragic loss of Ronan, who had recently completed his GCSEs, has left a profound impact on the community.
The presiding judge, Mr Justice Choudhury, has allowed the public disclosure of the names of Prabjeet Veadhesa and Sukhman Shergill before their sentencing. Previously, reporting restrictions had prevented their identities from being revealed.
During the court proceedings, Ronan’s family, visibly emotional and wearing “Justice for Ronan” T-shirts, were present. The courtroom was filled with sorrow as Ronan’s father, Chander, delivered a heartfelt tribute to his beloved son. Veadhesa and Shergill, dressed in black suits and ties, sat together in the dock, attentively listening to the proceedings.
Chander Kanda expressed, “Ronan was not only my son, he was my world, my friend and the soul of our family. He was the one that would make us laugh and realise that life is what you make it and enjoy our precious time on earth as a family.”
Pooja, Ronan’s mother, shared her anguish in court, revealing that she replays the last moments she saw her son alive in her mind every day. She expressed the profound loss of a lifetime’s worth of dreams, hopes, and ambitions, emphasising that Ronan was the son every mother yearns for.
Directly addressing her son’s killers, she condemned their heinous actions, holding them responsible for taking her son’s life. Pooja added that the tragic event had shattered her aspirations and desires, leaving an insatiable longing to hold her son in her arms.
According to the court proceedings, it was revealed that Veadhasa had a financial dispute with one of Ronan’s friends and had planned to confront him on June 29, 2022.
The judge described the incident as a “tragic coincidence” when Veadhasa and Shergill mistakenly identified Ronan as their intended target after observing him leave the house where the intended victim resided.
Ronan, unaware of the impending danger, was attacked from behind while listening to music through his headphones, mere yards away from his family home. Earlier that day, Veadhasa had retrieved a set of ninja swords and a large machete from a local post office, having purchased them online using a false name.
During the attack, Shergill wielded the machete, while Veadhasa stabbed Ronan twice with the sword, resulting in his tragic demise at the scene. Ronan suffered a deep 20 cm wound in his back and hip area, as well as a 17 cm wound in his chest. Realising their mistake, the pair fled the scene, abandoning their weapons and clothing.
The jury deliberated for a mere two hours following a five-week trial before reaching a guilty verdict for both defendants.
Detective Inspector Ade George, leading the investigation as part of the West Midlands homicide unit, commented on the case, acknowledging the immeasurable pain that comes with losing a child. He further highlighted the additional layer of grief endured by Ronan’s family, knowing that he was not the intended target of the attack.
DI George emphasised the importance of combating the presence of knives on the streets, emphasising that there are no winners in such circumstances. Law enforcement will continue to crack down on individuals who believe carrying knives is acceptable.