Letchworth boy, 14, sentenced for stabbing teen during row over £20

Jackman's Place, Letchworth. Picture: Alan Millard.

Jackman's Place, Letchworth. Picture: Alan Millard. - Credit: Archant

A 14-year-old boy has today been sentenced to five years in a detention centre for the stabbing of another teenager in Letchworth during a row over £20.

The boy – who cannot be named for legal reasons – cycled up behind the 15-year-old victim outside shops in Jackman’s Place.

He pulled out the knife and stabbed the 15-year-old boy in the neck, telling the victim’s friends: “If any of you snitch, you are in trouble.”

Prosecutor Samantha Cohen told St Albans Crown Court: “Minutes later he collapsed and was taken to hospital for life-saving surgery.

“His right jugular vein, a second vein and his chest cavity were penetrated. Half a litre of blood had to be drained from his chest.”

Ms Cohen said the victim was in intensive care, being discharged on June 13 after five days of treatment.

Two and a half weeks later he suffered complications and had to go back to hospital to have fluid drained from his chest.

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Half an hour before the stabbing, which happened at around 2.30pm on June 8, the 14-year-old saw the victim’s older brother near Morrisons supermarket in Letchworth and was involved in an altercation.

The 14-year old pulled out of silver knife with a blade and lunged at the brother, who said: “Don’t do it. Stop. Think what you are doing.”

At that, the boy said: “OK I won’t start a beef with you,” and rode off shouting an obscenity, according to the prosecution.

The judge was told the background to the case was antagonism caused largely because the stabbing victim owed the defendant £20.

When arrested, he made no comment to police questions.

Ms Cohen said the victim’s mother said her son had suffered flashbacks and rarely leaves his home. He is too frightened to travel past the location of the attack, even in a car.

The 14-year-old, who was being held in Oakhill secure training centre in Milton Keynes, appeared for sentence having pleaded guilty to having an article with a blade in public place, wounding with intent and threatening another with an article with a blade.

He had three previous convictions. When he was aged 12 he was sentenced to a referral order for assault and battery after kicking his victim in the head while on the ground.

In February 2017, he was given a Youth Rehabilitation Order for causing actual bodily harm when he hit the victim on the head with a belt, and in October last year he received a six-month conditional discharge for possession of cannabis.

In mitigation, Beth O’Reilly said the defendant had the most appalling start to his life – being born addicted to heroin due to his mother’s own addiction, and his father dying when he was young. She said he was young and immature.

Since being held in custody he had a fork plunged into his face. Ms Reilly said he accepted he had been found in the detention centre with improvised weapons – a chisel and screws. She added that he needs help and education.

Judge Michael Kay QC sentenced him to five years in a detention centre, with a further two years on licence.

This means he will be eligible for release on licence after 40 months, but only if he is not considered to be a risk. If he is released, he could be recalled to a detention centre or prison at any time until 2025.

The judge told him: “If there had not been urgent action and emergency surgery, he [the victim] would have died. Fortunately he survived. This was a life-threatening injury which came very close to killing him.

“You are immature and reckless. You have had a very difficult life. It might be said you did not get much of a chance, but you are not the only person in that position. It does not have to determine how you live. You have choices.”

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