Two drug-dealing step brothers from Chichester have been detained for serious knife crimes - one of which resulted in the death of Bognor Regis teenager Luke Jeffrey.
Samuel Morgan, 20, of Adelaide Road, Chichester, was handed a four-year sentence over the death of Mr Jeffrey, who was 18 when he died from a single knife wound on March 11, 2016.
In passing sentence today, judge Christine Laing QC said she had to respect the fact that a jury had earlier cleared Morgan of both murder and manslaughter and was sentencing him only for possession of the knife, calling Mr Jeffrey’s death over a £20 drug dispute an ‘utterly senseless loss of life’.
Luke Jeffrey’s mother, Emily, gave an emotional tribute to her son in court, saying his death has left the family forever ‘torn apart’. Read the tribute here
Morgan was also sentenced to a further two years, to run consecutively making a total of six years, for his part in a separate incident on April 19, 2015, in which Brandon Attwater, 18, stabbed Simon Wilmott in the stomach.
Attwater, of Winterbourne Road, Chichester, who was 16 at the time, was sentenced to five years at the hearing at Hove Crown Court today, Tuesday, February 28.
Both Morgan and Attwater will serve their sentences in young offenders’ institutes because of their age.
Mr Wilmott, a Chichester College student like Mr Jeffrey, required life-saving surgery after being stabbed by Attwater and remained in intensive care for three days.
The court heard how Morgan arranged a fake drug deal with Mr Wilmott to lure him close to Chichester Festival Theatre, so he, Attwater and another, unidentified man, could set on him in a pre-planned attack.
At an earlier trial, Morgan was found not guilty of knowing Attwater had been carrying a knife or planning to stab Mr Wilmott in the attack on April 19, 2015.
The court heard how Morgan sent a text message to Mr Wilmott just minutes after Attwater had stabbed him saying ‘enjoy the knife’.
Attwater had pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm at an earlier hearing and was handed a five-year sentence.
During a trial last year over the death of Mr Jeffrey, a jury accepted Morgan’s evidence that he had used the kitchen knife in self defence, and picked up the weapon because he was scared that Mr Jeffrey might also have a knife, clearing him of both murder and manslaughter.
Sentencing Morgan, judge Laing QC said: “Despite being on bail for the offence concerning Mr Wilmot, and therefore knowing the devastating consequences of a knife being taken to the scene, you chose to take a knife with you that night, with the utterly devastating consequences that Luke Jeffrey was stabbed and died.
“The word tragedy is readily over-used nowadays, but the events of March 11, 2016, were a tragedy in the truest sense of the word.
“Luke Jeffrey, a young man just 18 years of age, lost his life as a result of a dispute over a debt of £20.
“An utterly senseless loss of life, caused by what I consider to be one of the scourges of the modern age, the tendency of young men like you, Samuel Morgan, to carry knives with them to make themselves look big.
“This was nothing more than a silly fight that should have ended with nothing worse than a black eye and bruised pride.
“Because you had a knife on you it ended with Luke Jeffrey’s death.
“I do not go behind the verdict of the jury, who decided in using that knife against an unarmed man that you were acting in self-defence, but the fact of the matter is, had you not been in possession of the knife that night, Luke Jeffrey would not be dead.”
Judge Laing QC added that the Jeffrey family would have to bear the ‘utterly tragic consequences’ of his action for the rest of their lives.
Sentencing Morgan for playing a ‘leading role’ in arranging the attack on Mr Wilmott a year before, judge Laing QC said: “Mr Wilmot was first punched by the other male but you immediately joined in, jumping on his back and kicking him as he lay on the ground and finally stealing his bike and riding off with it.
“This was utterly gratuitous violence, involving you using a weapon, namely your foot in a pre-planned attack.
“I do sentence you on the basis that you did not know Mr Attwater had taken a knife to the scene, but I do bear in mind that just 30 minutes after the attack you were taunting Mr Wilmot about the fact that he had been stabbed, with a text message which said ‘enjoy the knife’.”
Morgan was sentenced to a total of six years; four years for possession of a knife in a public place on March 11, 2016; and two years for unlawful wounding on April 19, 2015.
Sentencing Attwater for stabbing Mr Wilmott, judge Laing QC said the victim’s injuries were so severe that ‘only the skill of the surgeons no doubt saved his life’.
She said: “This was a planned assault, whatever the reasons for it was, you and Mr Morgan and a third associate decided to attack him.
“Mr Morgan organised the meeting with Mr Wilmott, you then went there a different route so he would be unaware and after the assault had started you then ran in and stabbed him.”
Judge Laing said taking into account previous convictions for violence, the starting point was a 12-year sentence.
However, she said bearing in mind the fact that he was 16 at the time, had since become a father and entered a guilty plea, she handed him a five-year sentence for the charge of wounding with intent causing grievous bodily harm.
Both Morgan and Attwater, who the court heard are step brothers, will serve their sentences at a young offenders’ institute because they are below the age of 21.
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