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Two convicted after horrific stabbing left completely innocent teenage victim with life-changing injuries

Two men involved in the brutal attack of a teenage boy, who has been left with life-changing injuries from which he will never fully recover, have been convicted.

James Bascoe-Smith was aged 16 when he was set about as he was riding a bicycle near his home in Lambeth last February.

James, now 18, has undergone a series of operations since the merciless assault. The extensive injuries to his organs, and the neurological damage as a result, mean he requires constant care and support, and will do so for the rest of his life.

Today, at the Central Criminal Court [A] Leon Alan Rashid, 20 (17.05.02), of Dunheved Road, Thornton Heath and [C] Taiquane Lewis, 19 (24.08.03) Kennington Park Road, Kennington were found guilty of conspiracy to murder.

Detective Inspector Yasser Awad, Central South Command Unit, said: “The attack James suffered was about as sinister and violent as it can possibly get. He was a young boy at the time, who was alone, and he was outnumbered and attacked completely without warning.

“Despite the awful injuries he suffered, both James and his family are thankful that he is alive."

Police were called to Henry Road, SW9 at 18:15hrs on Tuesday, 23 February 2021 to reports of a stabbing.

Officers attended with paramedics from the London Ambulance Service and found James with multiple stab injuries.

He was treated at the scene and, as they began to transport James to hospital in the back of an ambulance, his heart stopped beating and he stopped breathing.

Paramedics began chest compressions and when HEMS doctors arrived immediately after, they conducted a thoracotomy which gives access to the chest cavity in order to do manual heart massage/compressions.

James was defibrillated four times. On the fourth attempt, his heart began beating again.

In the meantime detectives from Central South Command Unit had been alerted and immediately set about piecing together the events leading up to and including the attack.

They recovered CCTV from 18:00hrs showing two suspect vehicles – a Range Rover Evoque and VW Passat (both later found to have been stolen) - travelling in convoy around the area and then onto the estate where James lived.

They looped around before travelling into Henry Road, where James was test-riding a bicycle his mother had recently bought, having left his home just minutes earlier.

The Range Rover sped down the road and ran James over, with the VW Passat still in convoy.

Witnesses, hearing the commotion, described seeing James lying prone on the ground, surrounded by a group of knife-wielding males who were stabbing and slashing at him. Another male stood by and acted as look-out and get-away driver for one of the vehicles.

He shouted something to alert the attacking group, who piled into the VW Passat which then sped off before they decamped a short time later down the road.

Onlookers saw sparks flying from underneath the Range Rover as it made off, caused by James’s bicycle being dragged underneath. A single occupant got out to remove it before making off.

Five knives were recovered from the scene – two from the VW Passat – some of which were covered in blood.

James video-called his mother to tell her that he had been stabbed, and that he was dying.

The Range Rover was found abandoned by police the following morning, smelling strongly of cleaning products.

Considerable cell site evidence and forensic examinations were completed during the course of the investigation. Rashid was identified through DNA evidence – his had been found on one on the knives with James’ blood on it. CCTV also showed him running away from near to where the VW Passat was abandoned.

Lewis was identified after his DNA was recovered on the VW Passat. During a search of his bedroom, officers found knives which were the same type as those used during the offence. His DNA was also found on a sheath discovered in the Range Rover.

James’ auntie, Rachel Duncan, said: “The family are thankful for the justice that has been served today and hope that we can now live our lives in peace knowing that these violent offenders are off our streets. We thank all involved that brought these people to justice. We now plead with those who carry knives and weapons to cause serious harm or to kill, to stop this now, because life can change in an instant or in a minute but the impact can be life changing!”

DI Awad added: “In my years as a police officer I have investigated some harrowing cases. What happened to James is among the worst I have encountered. The strength shown by his family after that ordeal, and the ensuing trial, is utterly incredible.

“The reason for the attack on James has never been satisfactorily explained. He was a completely innocent victim caught up in a dispute between rival gangs.

“I would like to thank the team of dedicated officers who worked so diligently for James to bring this awful group of people to justice. And of course the paramedics, doctors and nurses, without whose care, skill and expertise James would not be here today.”

Detective Superintendent Neerav Patel, Central South Command Unit, said: “It is a miracle that James is here with us today and he is a role model to us all. James has a long road of recovery ahead, supported by his loving family who have been with him every step of the way. This cowardly, senseless attack shines a light on the evil of knife crime and gang related violence. Most importantly however, it reiterates that we will be relentless in our pursuit of those who commit acts of violence like this, working day and night to bring them to justice”.

Crown Prosecution Service Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor, David Malone said: “My thoughts today are with the victim, James, and his family who I spent some time with yesterday at the Old Bailey as we awaited the verdicts. I know that their collective heroism and dignity has inspired the entire police and prosecution team, whose professionalism and dedication has ensured two cowardly individuals have been brought to justice, who attacked an innocent schoolboy with knives.”