A teenager who died on the sidewalk for nearly an hour after being stabbed by two gang members in the street told them “I didn’t deserve this” as they were jailed for life.
James Bascoe-Smith, then 16, was left in a wheelchair after being thrown off a bicycle and repeatedly attacked by masked men with knives in Brixton, south London on February 23.
The Old Bailey heard he was the completely innocent victim of a gang attack, sparked either by a provocative online exercise video or as revenge for a previous attack.
On Friday, James was surrounded by family and friends in court as his two attackers were convicted of conspiracy to murder.
Leon Rashid, 20, of Thornton Heath, south London, and Taiquane Lewis, 19, of Kennington, south London, were each sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 14 and 13 years respectively.
A pre-recorded video was played during the hearing, in which James asked why the defendants targeted him and if they “feel bad” now.
Outlining the stabbing and its devastating aftermath, he said: “I remember screaming for my mother and begging her to stop it.
“I don’t remember much and couldn’t communicate for six months after the attack.
“My life has changed since the attack.
“They prevented me from driving, spending my first vacation with my friends to celebrate my 18th birthday, training in gymnastics, working and becoming a record producer while I was studying that in college.”
James described moving away from Brixton, leaving friends, neighbors and “everyone I knew” behind.
He continued: “I now need full-time carers, complete strangers to me, to come to personally nurse, feed and clothe me.
“I can’t get out of bed on my own, I can’t even brush my own teeth and I need a lot of medication to help me with my recovery.
“I was left in a non-electric wheelchair, I rely on everyone to move me, I’m not independent.
“I now have a brain injury because my heart stopped for almost an hour. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to work or study again.
“I was very active before the attack, I was very involved in my community and helping my family, I picked up my little cousinsfrom school, helped them with their jobs and I coached them in gymnastics.
“I didn’t deserve this, I haven’t had any issues with anyone, I don’t know why they attacked me, I just want to know why they attacked me and if they feel bad for what they did.”
He continued: “I’m grateful that the doctors saved my life but living like this is hard, I miss my friends, I miss my old life, every day I wake up knowing I’ll be like this forever .”
James was testing a bike for his mother when he was attacked near his home.
After being repeatedly stabbed, he cried out “Call my mother, call my mother” and then collapsed.
The teenager died for almost an hour before being brought back to life by medics.
He then spent 174 days in the hospital before being allowed home, where he continues to work on his recovery, achieving 100 sit-ups in his wheelchair.
Prosecutor Edward Brown KC said, “It’s extraordinary that he’s here to tell the story.”
James’ family spoke of their determination to help prevent more innocent stabbing victims.
His mother, Lisa Bascoe-Smith, said: “James hasn’t had any issues with anyone in the area. He’s a happy boy who’s always smiling.”
James’ aunt Rachel Duncan added: “James is a victim of a broken society. Our community needs healing, caring and hope that we can overcome this evil that has plagued the community.
“We cannot give up our youth. We must learn to forgive. We really need to end this cycle of violence, which can often become intergenerational.
“We must eradicate knife violence from our streets.”
The court heard that both defendants had previous convictions for carrying knives.
An assortment of “terrifying” knives were discarded by the fleeing attackers, including a combat knife, a Rambo-style blade, and a zombie-style machete.
In sentencing, Judge Ian Bourne KC said: “No one can be deeply moved by the devastating impact that the life changing and tragic events of February 23, 2021 had not only on James Bascoe-Smith but also on his family, friends and the wider community.’
The court was told that 12 “high damage” gangs had been identified in Southwark and Lambeth, with knife crime in the area returning to pre-pandemic levels.
Outside of court, Ms Duncan said: “Today marks the end of our journey in the fight for justice.
“James was lucky to survive. However, he was left with serious life-changing injuries.
“That should not have happened. And I urge people who carry knives to stop. Please stop.
“The trauma inflicted on my nephew and family – we now live with the effects of knife violence forever.
“Our family will continue to work to end the violence on our streets as we do not want another family to go through the trauma we are currently living through.
“We must all sit up and resist the knife violence.”
Detective Superintendent Neerav Patel said: “James was indeed pronounced clinically dead 50 minutes after he was run over and stabbed by cowards.
“He was completely innocent. He was out on his bike checking that it was safe for his mum while she waited on her doorstep for James to return. Unfortunately he never did.
“Passers-by found James and offered immediate assistance and the paramedics who showed up refused to give up on James and after nearly an hour of work managed to bring him back to life.
“It’s really remarkable that James is still with us today. In my view, James is nothing short of a miracle and a beacon in the evil that is knife crime.
“My final word is for those who believe they can get away with serious acts of violence on our streets and my message to them is clear and is that we will not stop pursuing you until you are brought to justice.”
David Malone, Deputy Chief Prosecutor, CPS London South, said: “The first and last word in this case belongs to James Bascoe-Smith, his mother Lisa and her family, whose heroism and dignity stand in startling contrast to the cowardice of those convicted here today, gang members ‘who have shown no remorse for their abominable deeds.’
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/11/05/james-bascoe-smith-teenager-left-paralysed-after-brixton-stabbing-17703770/ James Bascoe-Smith: Teenager paralyzed after Brixton stabbed