A killer whose therapy in prison inspired a Mercury Prize-winning album by his brother Dave the rapper has had his minimum jail term cut after a High Court judge found he has made “exceptional and unforeseen progress” behind bars.
Christopher Omoregie, now 28, was one of three teenagers found guilty of murdering 15-year-old Sofyen Belamouadden at a busy London tube station in 2010.
He was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 18 years at the Old Bailey in April 2012. But in a ruling on Thursday, Mr Justice Dove recommended that Omoregie’s minimum term should be reduced by one year, giving him a chance of an earlier release on parole.
Sofyen was chased into the ticket hall at Victoria underground after a clash between two rival school groups and stabbed to death in a “sustained and vicious attack” in front of horrified commuters in March 2010.
Police stopped the attackers, who had fled on a bus, and found one of the knives used to stab the teenager in Omoregie’s bag.
In his ruling Mr Justice Dove said: “It is clear that the murder of the deceased has had a devastating effect upon his immediate family, who continue to mourn his loss and have difficulty in coming to terms with the events of that day.
“The deceased was unarmed and the manner of his death, being hunted down and killed by (Omoregie) and others in the college group, continues to cast a very long shadow over the lives of those who were close to the deceased.”
One of the features of Omoregie’s time behind bars, reviewed as part of the judge’s decision, was a therapy program he took part in called Psychodrama, after which his brother Dave the rapper – full name David Omoregie – named the album that won him the music award.
Accepting the £25,000 prize at a ceremony in 2019, Dave said the story of the album was inspired by his brother’s therapy and added: “I want to thank my brother Christopher. Even though you can’t be here with us today, I know you are watching this bro.”
The judge’s ruling included a report from the therapist who conducted the course, who said Christopher Omoregie had brought “much warmth, enthusiasm and humour” and was good at “communication, tolerance, warmth and generosity”.
Early in his sentence, Omoregie had described his mother and brothers as “protective factors”, who had stood by him, and said it was important for him not to “let them down” again in the future.
He also prepared a letter for Sofyen’s family as part of a restorative justice programme, and had invited the judge who tried his case to an event in prison – during which they discussed the case, which Omoregie found “cathartic”.
A 2020 report highlighted by Mr Justice Dove described Omoregie as a “bright man, with a very positive record of behavior in prison”.
The report said he has studied for a degree in philosophy and psychology with the Open University and hopes to do a master’s degree on completion of that course.
It also concluded he “shows a very high level of remorse towards the victim and the victim’s family” and had “taken responsibility for his offending”.
Reaching his decision to reduce Omoregie’s tariff, Mr Justice Dove said: “In my view, it is clear from the history of the applicant’s activities whilst in prison that not only does he have an exemplary disciplinary record … but also that he has devoted himself to working hard both in relation to his own rehabilitation and the activities and interventions necessary to turn his life around.
“He has successfully pursued opportunities in the educational sphere where it is clear that he has an exceptional record of academic achievement whilst in custody. “This work has been undertaken not exclusively for his own benefit from him, but also in order to assist and support other prisoners who have been undertaking work necessary for their own rehabilitation.”
The judge said Omoregie has “developed a sincere and genuine remorse” for his involvement in Sofyen’s murder, adding: “That remorse is expressed extensively and repeatedly in the documentation, including his participation in the restorative justice program and preparation of a letter for his victims .
“The considerable steps that the applicant has taken in facing up to his offending, taking responsibility for it and expressing his deeply felt regret for what he did, has undoubtedly been a significant part of the rehabilitation which he has undergone.”
The judge concluded: “All of the references within the documentation speak powerfully of the clear and obvious change in the applicant and the fact that he has reformed and rehabilitated himself into a person who has the potential to make a strong and positive contribution to the community. .
“Against this background I have no doubt that it is entirely appropriate to conclude that there has been exceptional and unforeseen progress in this applicant.
“This conclusion arises from the evidence of the efforts which he has made in custody to address his offending, improve and change himself, reduce his risks of reoffending and equip himself for a new life in the community, whilst at the same time accepting his responsibility. for his offense and expressing his sincere remorse for the undoubted and permanent harm that his crime has caused.”
Omoregie will be able to apply to the Parole Board one year sooner as a result of the judge’s decision, but will only be released when the board is satisfied he does not pose a danger to the public.