Teenage drug dealer who killed a ‘county lines’ rival by stabbing him with a sword in Leamington has been sentenced to ten years detention
“Nasir’s death shocked the local community and, sadly, this case is a very stark reminder of the devastating effects that both drugs and knife crime can have" said police
The teenage drug dealer who killed ‘county lines’ rival Nasir Patrice by stabbing him with a sword in a Leamington flat has been sentenced to ten years detention.
The 17-year-old from Lewisham, London, who cannot be named because of his age, had been found guilty at Warwick Crown Court of manslaughter but cleared of Nasir’s murder.
He was also convicted of wounding one of Nasir’s two companions, Abdul Moustapha, with intent and of perverting the court of justice by later disposing of blood-stained clothing.
Three of his associates, Richard Talawila, Abraham Kombey and William Hutsch all pleaded guilty on the first day of the trial to the perverting the course of justice charge.
Talawila (19) of Northwick Avenue, Harrow; Kombey (19) from Erith, London; and Hutsch (18) of Osborn Terrace, Blackheath, London, were sentenced to two years – but were due to be released immediately because of the time they had already spent in custody.
The background to the incident was a clash between rival drug dealers, after Natasha Owen allowed the defendant and two others to use her flat in Tachbrook Road, Leamington, as a base.
The defendant, described as a ‘runner’ supplying drugs, was staying at a guesthouse in Warwick with Talawila, Kombey and Hutsch, but spent the night at the flat on January 14 last year.
The following morning Miss Owen was out when the buzzer went and homeless Christopher Galvin, who was also allowed to stay there on occasions, opened the door.
Prosecutor Michael Burrows QC said Mr Galvin was punched, and Nasir, Mr Moustapha and Yvan Ondaye pushed their way in.
Mr Galvin, who agreed that the defendant had been ‘set up’ to be robbed, although not by him, ran outside and heard someone shouting: “Put it down, put it down.”
The three intruders then ran out screaming for help, and Nasir collapsed on the ground, having received four stab wounds including one which had gone right through his body and one which had damaged his pulmonary artery, from which he died.
Giving evidence, the defendant, who was 16 at the time, had said that when Mr Galvin opened the door, people ran inside and someone swung at him with ‘a Rambo knife,’ slashing him to the thigh as he put his legs up to defend himself.
He said he reached for his own knife, which was described by witnesses as a sword, and which he agreed was ‘a big knife,’ and swung out with it, connecting with the intruder with the knife and a second one he had hit him to the head with something.
Of four wounds he inflicted on Nasir, one had gone right through his chest and lung and out the back, while another had damaged his pulmonary artery.
Before the four were sentenced, Mr Burrows pointed out that the teenager had previous convictions including one for threatening with an offensive weapon, Talawila and Kombey both had convictions which included wounding, and Hutsch had one for drugs and one for perverting the course of justice.
Sentencing Nasir’s killer, Mr Justice Turner said: “The facts of this case are relatively straight-forward.
“The defendants were all members of a county lines drug gang operating from London and had been sent to Leamington Spa to supply heroin and crack cocaine to local addicts.”
“For this purpose, the home of Natasha Owen was chosen as one base. [The defendant] arrived at her flat together with drugs, cash and a weapon, a sword or zombie knife which was obviously capable of inflicting lethal injury.
“He had taken the sword with him to the flat with the specific purpose of using it if occasion arose.
“The trade of drug dealing inevitably involves clashes between rival gangs with often violent consequences. One such gang operated from Birmingham.
“Three of them had, it would appear, been tipped off that [the defendant] was at Owen’s flat.
“They arrived intending to confront [the defendant] and they burst in, but underestimated the strength of the reception which would be awaiting them.
“At least one of them had a knife and struck the first blow, but what followed went far beyond reasonable self-defence, and one member of the rival gang suffered fatal injuries.
“One injury was inflicted with such severe force that the blade of the sword went clean through Patrice’s body and out the other side.”
“Patrice’s death has had a devastating impact on his family. It is shocking that someone so young should lose his life in such circumstances.”
Addressing the defendant directly, Mr Justice Turner told him: “You armed yourself with a lethal weapon in circumstances where you not only thought you might use it, but with a mind to do so if the circumstances arose.
“The risk of such a confrontation was a product of your choice to engage in a criminal enterprise. The violence you inflicted was persistent.
“You have a very considerable degree of criminal maturity. You had been actively involved in drug dealing for two or three years before these offences and fully understood the implications of the lifestyle choice you had made.”
The court heard that after the youth fled the scene as Nasir lay dying in the street outside, he got a taxi back to the Warwick guesthouse where he and the other three had been staying.
Another man staying there, Temba John, saw him with a deep cut to his knee and ‘a nasty-looking blade.’
Later he saw all four go out carrying four or five bin bags, and he was told they needed him to do them a favour.
He was reluctant, but saw they had weapons, and they got him to drive them in a black Renault Kadjar to Birmingham and then West Bromwich where the defendant and Kombey got out.
He then had to drive Talawila and Hutsch to Redditch, stopping on the way to get a jerry can of petrol.
And at a spot near the Redditch cemetery some of the bin bags were taken from the car and set on fire using the petrol to destroy bloodstained clothing and bedding from the guesthouse.
After discussing sentencing guidelines for perverting the course of justice with the barristers in the case, Mr Justice Turner said he would pass sentences on Talawila, Kombey and Hutsch which would lead to their immediate release.
And Nasir’s killer was given no separate penalty for that in view of his ten-year sentence for manslaughter and a concurrent term of eight years and nine months for wounding Mr Moustapha.
Following the outcome, Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Corfield from Warwickshire Police said: “Nasir’s death shocked the local community and, sadly, this case is a very stark reminder of the devastating effects that both drugs and knife crime can have.
“Nasir Patrice was only 17 when he died. The offender, also a young man himself, will now face a custodial sentence for his crime. So many lives have been devastated by this case but my thoughts remain uppermost with the family of Nasir.
“I’d like to thank everyone who supported this investigation for their hard work and determination, and hope today’s outcome will give Nasir’s family a small sense of closure that these individuals will now face justice for their actions.”
Ben Smith, head of local policing at Warwickshire Police, said: “No family expects to lose a loved one in these circumstances, and sadly, this tragic incident is testament to the fear, misery and devastation that county lines offences can cause in our communities.
“We are dedicated to tackling the supply of illegal drugs in Warwickshire and protecting those who are vulnerable to these offences - we will do everything we can to keep our county safe.
“Our thoughts remain with all those who knew Nasir.”