A teenager who was captured on dash-cam footage attacking a car with a “zombie knife” in broad daylight has been jailed after the Court of Appeal ruled his suspended sentence unduly lenient.
Joshua Gardner, 18, who last year received suspended sentences for GBH, affray and possession of a bladed article, was given a three-and-a-half year jail term on Wednesday.
Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice after the hearing, Solicitor General Robert Buckland, who referred the sentence, said: “I’m very pleased that the Court of Appeal has today reflected the deep and growing public concern about knife crime.
“I think it sends a very clear message to people who choose to carry weapons of this nature that this will not be tolerated.”
He added: “Knives are weapons of injury and death, and they must not be carried by people without a lawful permit.”
The incident occurred last year when Levar Gilbert, 19, was sitting in his car in stationary traffic in Croydon, and Gardener, who was aged 17 at the time, pulled up alongside him on a bike.
As Gilbert tried to pull away and overtake the stationary traffic in front of him, he almost made contact with Gardner’s push bike.
He then drove on the wrong side of the road in an attempt to get away and crashed into an oncoming vehicle and a van. This led to Gardner abandoning his push bike and running towards Gilbert’s car, producing a large “zombie” style knife which he had taken from the right hand side of his trouser waistband.
Gardner then hit the rear driver’s side door of the car with the knife repeatedly. He attempted to gain access by pulling at the rear driver’s side door and then went round to the nearside of the vehicle.
He continued to aim kicks and knife blows at the car, hitting the front passenger window with the blade, smashing it, and causing Gilbert to flee his vehicle in a panic.
The incident was witnessed by several members of the public, with Gardner’s outburst of violence caught on the dash-cam footage of a vehicle that was travelling in the opposite direction.
Buckland said the offence was aggravated by the fact that it was “committed during the supervision period” for a previous conviction for attempted robbery “involving the use of a knife to threaten a younger person”.
Mark Stevens, for Gardner, said his client’s defence at trial, which was not believed, was that Gardner was simply “trying to scare Mr Gilbert” and denied that Gardner had been attempting to hit Gilbert in the head.
Stevens noted that Gilbert “did not co-operate with the police”, but Sir Brian Leveson said that “one of the great problems our society is facing is knife crime, in a subculture where people do not assist the police and young men are losing their lives”.
Giving the court’s ruling, Sir Brian said: “One of the challenges facing society is the commonplace carrying and use of knives.
“That can never be an excuse for carrying a weapon of the type which this offender carried on that day.
“Purported self-defence all too frequently becomes an offence and results in fatal injuries, particularly to teenage boys, almost on a daily basis.
“Public concern is obvious and inevitable. It thus falls to the court to demonstrate that such behaviour must result in substantial and effective custodial sentences.”
The judge said his view was that Gardner should have been jailed for four years.
“We reduce that sentence to three and a half years in custody at a young offender’s institution to reflect the days that he spent on tag and his unpaid work,” he added.
Sir Brian added that the weapon, the blade of which Stevens said was “around 10 inches”, was “horrific”.