Three teenagers have been sentenced after one of them was stabbed just yards from a young child outside a corner shop in Portslade.
The youngest – a 16-year-old boy from Portslade – was given four years’ detention for stabbing another 16-year-old boy in the neck and stomach.
Both had knives as they squared up in the car park of the Co-op on the corner of Abinger Road and Shelldale Road.
Brave Co-op shop staff used their clothes to plug the wounds and stem the blood loss as the boy pleaded: “Call an ambulance. I’m dying.”
The bleeding boy’s friend, Kai Boarer, who has since turned 19, initially tried to staunch the wounds himself. He stepped away and started crying.
Boarer had been carrying a claw hammer as two groups met to carry out a drugs deal in the Co-op car park.
The story of what happened has emerged in a series of court hearings in Brighton, Hove and Southampton in the months since the fight on Saturday 10 September last year.
The law does not allow the names and addresses of the two 16-year-olds – one of whom has since turned 17 – to be published.
The final hearing in the case involving the three Portslade boys took place at Hove Crown Court on Friday (24 March).
Warwick Tatford, prosecuting, said: “This case is a sad example of young men carrying knives in the misguided belief that it will give them some protection.
“There was a fight on a Saturday afternoon shortly before 5pm … A child had come into the car park with his father.
“The two groups appear to have arranged to meet deliberately. There was some plan hatched, arranging some kind of cannabis deal. There was some hostility between the groups.”
The youngest boy said in a plea entered at Southampton Crown Court last month: “I had no prior knowledge that there was to be a pre-arranged confrontation between two groups. I did not take the knife with me. It was handed to me by a friend once at the location of the incident.
“I was aware that (two other boys) had weapons with them. I feared for my safety and those of my friends. My initial thoughts when pulling the knife out of my jeans pocket was to ward off any attack (by the other two boys).
“However, I overreacted and when I stabbed (one of the boys) I intended to cause him really serious injury.
“I am deeply sorry for my actions that afternoon.”
The knife was never found.
One witness said that he saw a large group of 12 to 16-year-olds in the Co-op car park. He described one person running away from the group and he thought the other group were moving towards him and having a go at him.
Someone in the larger group shouted: “Sort him out!”
Mr Tatford said that the witness saw the youngest of the three boys punch the victim twice, adding: “He didn’t realise it was actually with a knife.”
Carrying weapons, the barrister said, “It’s a recipe for disaster.”
The duty manager at the Co-op said that she heard one of the larger group say: “Go on, then! Stab me!”
And she describes one of the boys hitting another in the face with a belt so hard that it broke the belt.
Another member of the shop’s staff shouted at the two groups as they squared up: “What are you doing? There are children about!”
Mr Shaw said: “He hadn’t come into contact with the criminal justice system. The incident was completely out of character and difficult to explain.
“He handed himself in to the police within a couple of hours. He admitted that he was the perpetrator of the violence. He has accepted full culpability (for the wounding).
“Since then he has conceded that it was an arranged meeting and there was drug dealing underlying some of the issues there.”
Judge Charles Kemp told the boy: “You handed yourself in to the police hours after the incident and admitted that it was you that had this knife. You have accepted responsibility from an early stage.
“Quite what entered your head that day, I don’t really know.
“There was a degree of planning and premeditation before that meeting of two groups.
“You didn’t arm yourself with a knife but somebody handed a knife to you and you used that knife and you used it to terrible effect, stabbing [your victim] twice – once in the neck and once in the abdomen.
“The other groups also carried weapons. Whatever this confrontation was about – a cannabis deal or whatever – these two groups met in a very public place when this hideous, terrible event erupted – and there was a child present.
“His physical injuries have healed. He’s made a good recovery. But he has scars – and neither you nor I know the mental effects.
“I’m sentencing a young man of 16 who used a knife in September and has resorted to violence since then (at Oakhill Secure Training Unit, near Milton Keynes).
“Were you an adult you would very probably be looking at a sentence of imprisonment in double figures.”
The judge said that, despite glowing character references, the offence was far too serious to be dealt with in the community.
He ordered the boy to be detained for four years for the stabbings and two years concurrent for having a knife in public, making four years in total.
Judge Kemp added: “If you commit an offence like this again, you are unlikely to be treated so leniently.”
The boy’s mother watched from the public gallery.
He was referred to Brighton and Hove Youth Offending Services for nine months. He was also ordered to pay £85 court costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
The older boy, Boarer, now 19, admitted having an offensive weapon – a claw hammer – and cannabis with intent to supply.
He appeared at Hove Crown Court last month by video link from Peterborough Young Offender Institution, having since been detained for having a knife in public and heroin and crack cocaine.
Last July Boarer was caught with cannabis and a cannabis grinder. When his home was searched, officers from Sussex Police found 27 bags of cannabis with a street value of about £310 and various items commonly used by dealers. And his phone contained texts about supplying drugs.
Jeffrey Lamb, prosecuting, said that Boarer called 999 after his young friend was stabbed, chucked his claw hammer into bushes and tried to stem the boy’s bleeding.
Mr Lamb said: “He was initially treated as a witness because he made the 999 call.
“He was of the opinion that if he hadn’t had the hammer, he would have been stabbed too.
“He is currently serving 20 months in a young offender institution having been sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court on Friday 20 January for having heroin with intent to supply and having crack cocaine with intent to supply and for having a knife or blade in public in October last year.
The judge, Mr Recorder John Bate-Williams, said: “You were among a group of young men in the car park outside a Co-op when a serious disorder occurred.
“Your friend suffered two serious stab wounds.
“You had brought a hammer for protection. When you were chased you pulled out the hammer.
“You were retreating, looking scared and looking defensive.
“You are only 18 and you’ve acquired a bad criminal record already.
“Drugs are the scourge of our young people. Every day of the year our courts see good useful young lives which have been ruined by drugs.
“When you are released I urge you to do all you can to keep clear of drugs otherwise not only will you ruin your own life but you will ruin other young lives.
“It’s to your credit you found work (but) you lost your job in February last year. Smoking cannabis cannot have helped you get back into work.
“You are still young. You still have a chance to change the direction of your life if you choose to do so.
“You had a supportive foster father with whom you continue to have a good relationship. And you have a good relationship with Jamie Harland, at the City Coast Church, and the youth worker James.
“Clearly you were motivated by financial advantage.”
He sentenced him to six months’ detention in a young offender institution for having cannabis with intent to supply and three months for having a hammer.
The judge added: “You are still a young man. You will be 19 next week. It’s your choice. You’ve got two paths on your release.
“You still have a good chance to get back into work. Keep away from the people who are involved in drugs and live a good and useful life.”
Boarer was watched by his mother who thanked the judge.