A 16-year-old boy has been sentenced to over four years in prison for stabbing a man he believed to be a ‘grass,’ as part of a ‘revenge attack’ carried out on behalf of a Doncaster gang.
During a hearing held at Sheffield Crown Court today, Judge Sarah Wright jailed the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, for four-and-a-half years, with an extended license period of two years, for his part in the attack.
The boy’s co-accused, Dominic Boswell, 26, was also jailed for two years.
Prosecutor, Katie Rafter, told the court how the boy is a member of the Mexborough gang, known as the Pitsmoor Shotta Boys (PSB) and even has a PSB tattoo, something police intelligence suggests is a form of initiation used by members to ‘demonstrate their allegiance’.
Ms Rafter described how in the days preceding the stabbing, which she described as a ‘revenge attack,’ the complainant and his girlfriend were arrested by the police.
“Several PSB gang members were arrested after this, and people believed the complainant had given information that led to their arrest.
“The complainant was being called a grass,” said Ms Rafter.
She said the complainant was walking on Wath Road, Mexborough ‘in the middle of the day’ on May 31 this year, when he encountered Boswell, of Belmont Street, Mexborough and they started talking about whether or not he had ‘grassed’ on the PSB.
Ms Rafter said the complainant told Boswell ‘he hadn’t grassed,’ to which he replied: “Well someone’s grassing, because everyone’s dropping like flies.”
A short time later the boy ‘came round the corner carrying what has been described as a Rambo-style knife and called the complainant a grass,’ said Ms Rafter.
The court heard how Boswell then took hold of the complainant and held him back, while the boy stabbed him three times.
Both defendants subsequently fled the scene.
The complainant was left with minor stab wounds to his chest, and an injury to his thigh that required surgery.
Ms Rafter said the complainant had refused to provide a victim impact statement, but told police he had not been able to return to Mexborough since the attack.
She said Superintendent Neil Thomas had detailed how ‘young people are recruited to the PSB’ through a community impact statement he had submitted to the court.
Boswell pleaded guilty to a section 20 assault and possession of cannabis at an earlier hearing, while the boy, who has a previous conviction for violent disorder, pleaded guilty to wounding with intent.
Richard Thyne, defending the boy, said: “Whatever sentence you pass will be a significant one in the context of his young life,” and referred to recommendations made in his pre-sentence report, in which the author had described the boy as being ‘polite’ and ‘engaging well’.
Defending Boswell, Laura Marshall, said he was not a member of the PSB, and while he had agreed to take part in the planned assault he did not know the boy would bring a knife to the scene and just believed the complainant ‘would be hit a few times’.
Judge Wright told the pair: “This took place on a roundabout in full view of members of the public going about their daily business. This was clearly a planned attack, with you Boswell holding him, so the boy could assault him.”
As she jailed the boy for four-and-a-half years, she told him she had taken his ‘difficult upbringing’ and the fact he was ‘young’ and ‘vulnerable’ when he was recruited to the PSB into consideration.
Judge Wright added she still felt it necessary to impose an extended license period of two years, bringing his extended sentence to six-and-a-half-years, because she believes he poses a ‘substantial risk of serious harm, resulting in the commission of further offences’.
The boy’s extended sentence means he will be required to serve two-thirds of his sentence, as opposed to the normal one-half, before he will be eligible to apply for parole.
Speaking after this morning’s sentencing, Investigating officer Detective Constable Jane Keightley said: “It is a priority for officers working in Doncaster to ensure that weapons such as the knife used during this attack are taken off the streets, and those who think it’s acceptable to carry them are dealt with using the full force of the law.
“Knife crime can have life-changing consequences for victims and their families, with some incidents sadly proving fatal. We will not stand for individuals choosing to carry knives to cause harm or injury to others in South Yorkshire.”