Face of a killer - how a Corby boy who has 'never been in trouble' was convicted of murder

The identity of the 18-year-old can be revealed for the first time today

By Kate Cronin
Friday, 14th January 2022, 3:26 pm
Updated Friday, 14th January 2022, 3:43 pm
A picture Draca posted of himself on social media
A picture Draca posted of himself on social media

The face of a teen killer can be revealed for the first time after he was sentenced for the murder of Rayon Pennycook.

A court order had been in place banning the boy from being named during his trial.

But after he turned 18 on December 19, the order automatically expired so today he can be named for the first time as Stefan Draca.

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Baby-faced Stefan Draca, who murdered Rayon Pennycook in Corby last May

Draca was found guilty of murdering Rayon following a trial in December.

He is part of a close Croatian family who, like so many before and since them, came to Corby for work and to find a better life.

He had no criminal convictions before the night of the murder in Reynolds Road on May 25 last year, and no history of knife-carrying. After the stabbing, neighbours told this newspaper how the family was 'lovely' and that they couldn't believe that the teen had been involved in any criminal activity.

Like many homes in the area, their neat house had a drawing of a rainbow in the window as a sign of solidarity with NHS workers during the pandemic.

Draca attended Lodge Park Technology College between years seven and 11. In a written statement to the court, his former headteacher Carly Waterman said that his attendance had been excellent.

She told the court that he had always presented as a 'respectable, quiet and polite young man'. There had been no worrying behaviour on his part.

An admin manager also told the court that she had worked at BCA with Draca's parents for two years between 2017 and 2018.

She said that she had first met Draca in 2020 when he had worked there for the summer and that he was 'bright, interested and friendly'.

Another manager who had known the Draca family for six years said that he had shocked by the situation and that he had always found Stefan Draca to be enthusiastic, police and respectful during his time working with him.

Draca had a close relationship with his father, to whom he turned on the evening he murdered Rayon, telling him that he 'didn't mean to do it, I'm not a murderer.' But he did not tell his dad that he had deliberately taken a knife to the scene and omitted to tell him that he had disposed of his clothes and the knife in a bid to hide the evidence.

To his credit, his dad drove him straight to the Northamptonshire Police building in Kettering where he was arrested although he then refused to tell police what had happened and has never again spoken to officers about the events of that night.

During his teen years, Draca had become friendly with a group of local boys. On the night of the murder, when phoned by Draca, the boys ran from where they were congregating Corporation Street to his family home which was in a street close to the attack.

Together, they walked to Reynolds Road where the girl Draca had come to defend was involved in a fight in the garden with a girl close to Rayon Pennycook, who had been in the house next door.

Draca's group began exchanging words with those in the house in Reynolds Road before Rayon emerged, waving a large knife.

As the boys in the group began to retreat, Draca walked towards Rayon and stabbed him in the shoulder, severing the main vein to his heart.

After the attack, Draca phoned the girl he said he was protecting for 42 seconds, then called another pal who had not been at the scene, who he then met at Pure Gym where he changed his clothes. He also disposed of the knife used in the murder. It has never been recovered and he has refused to tell officers what he did with it.

Although the other boys have been interviewed under caution, no further charges have been laid. One of the group gave evidence at the trial.

Defence counsel claimed this was 'the clearest case of self-defence a jury would ever see'.

Draca didn't give evidence at the trial because his barrister said that the prosecution had not proved their case, and that putting a 17-year-old on the stand to face questions from a seasoned QC would be 'uneven'

Draca was smartly-dressed in court and remained expressionless for the majority of the trial. His family sobbed as they heard the evidence against him.

The court was told that since he has been remanded in custody he has achieved Diamond Status for his good behaviour. He was described as a boy who has 'never been in trouble'.

Although will always be unclear how a boy painted as polite and respectful came to murder a rival in the street in Corby, his barrister Timothy Clark QC spoke of the 'knife crime epidemic' sweeping the country.Rayon's family can never have their boy back. Two families have been torn apart.

A jury who heard all the evidence, and had at their disposal an alternative verdict of manslaughter, decided that Draca did mean to murder his victim that night.

The law

At the very first court hearing at the magistrates' court in May, the court put in place at Section 45 order which means that nothing could be published that was likely to lead to members of the public identifying Draca as the defendant.

This meant that not only could he not be named, he could not be identified in any way. Reporters could not say which school he went to, where he lived or worked, or give any details that might mean the public could find out who he was.

These orders are designed to protect young people involved in adult court proceedings but they automatically expire when the defendant reaches the age of 18. Draca turned 18 on December 19, but the Northants Telegraph decided it would not be proportionate to name Draca on his birthday, or so close to Christmas, to lessen the impact on all the parties involved in the proceedings.

Today, after much consideration and after notifying the court and legal counsel of our intention to do so, we have taken the decision to name Stefan Draca given the gravity of his crime and the length of his sentence.

Although there is no order banning identification of the other young people involved in the case we have taken the decision to not name them publicly to allow them to try to move on from this tragic case. We have also taken the decision to not give the precise address of the defendant because of community tension and serious threats that followed his original arrest.