A teenager, formerly of Bedford, has been jailed for his part in a brazen daylight stabbing in Luton shopping centre.
He is one of three men sentenced to a total of more than 13 years in prison following the incident at 2.30m on Sunday,January 22.
Che Stephens, 18, previously of Bedford, Luca Sanni, 18, previously of Luton, and Imani Pobi da Silva, 18, previously of Luton, were involved in a fight in the shopping centre.
Following a brief exchange, which the three claimed to be over a girl, Stephens lunged at Pobi da Silva and stabbed him in the arm. He was then confronted by machete-wielding Sanni whose knife slipped from his hand as he attempted to retaliate.
Stephens stabbed Sanni in the leg before fleeing the scene.
Sanni and Pobi da Silva ran through The Mall, leaving a trail of blood in their wake, while stunned shoppers looked on. Both received treatment from security staff before police officers and paramedics arrived. After being treated at hospital the teenagers were arrested and charged.
Bedfordshire Police’s Boson team, dedicated to tackling guns, gangs and serious violence, launched an investigation into the incident. Stephens was later arrested in London and also charged.
After pleading guilty to wounding with intent and possession of a knife at a hearing in June, Stephens was sentenced to a total of seven-and-a-half years in prison.
He will serve seven years and six months for wounding with intent, and will serve an 18-month sentence concurrently for possession of a bladed article.
Sanni pleaded guilty to possession of a bladed article, and following a trial in July was found guilty of attempted grievous bodily harm (GBH) and affray.
He was sentenced to five years in prison for the attempted GBH. He will serve an eight-month sentence for possession of a bladed article and 12 months for affray, which will run concurrently.
Also at a trial in July, Pobi da Silva was found guilty of possession of a bladed article. He was sentenced to a 12-month prison sentence.
At Luton Crown Court today (Thursday) Judge Barbara Mensah, who called the incident a “horrifying spectacle”, said: “Who knows why you chose to meet each other, only the three of you know, but you are all equally culpable... the offence was planned, you all left home with knives, you knew the level of violence involved and the consequences that would follow.
“The three of you are very lucky not to have ended up as fatality statistics.”
She also praised the response from security staff at The Mall who helped administer first aid.
Detective Inspector Jackie Dadd, who led the investigation, said: “Residents of Luton were understandably concerned following this incident, and I hope through identifying the people responsible and securing charges for all, we have been able to show them how seriously we take incidents like this.
“Effectively the lives of the three boys are now on hold, which means they can take time to reflect on their actions on that day. I hope this sentence sends a very clear message to others who may be carrying a knife – violence like this won’t be tolerated. If you carry a knife then you’re more likely to become a victim of crime yourself.
“We worked closely with The Mall during the investigation, and have continued to work with them since, including with retailers in the centre about how they display knives. Several shops have since stopped selling them, or introduced locked display cabinets for them. Mall security staff were first on scene and administered first aid to both Sanni and Pobi da Silva, so I’d also like to thank them for their quick thinking.”