'Significant risk of causing serious harm to members of the public': Man jailed for involvement in Northampton stabbing
A Northampton man involved in a violent attack on an innocent bystander thought to be a rival gang member was jailed yesterday (Tuesday, January 21).
Northampton Crown Court heard Sonny Stewart was in a car-full of wannabe gang members, one of whom randomly stabbed a man outside a pub in Great Billing in October, 2018.
The other men in the car have all been jailed over the attack, including two members of the group involved in the murder of Reece Ottaway last year - Adison Smith and Jordan Crowley (also known as Jordan Kimpton).
Although Stewart, 29, did not carry out the assault himself, he pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm (GBH) and was jailed for 11 years.
His Honour Judge Michael Fowler also increased the time Stewart would be on licence by four years as he was considered a danger to the public.
"You do represent a significant risk of causing serious harm to members of the public and put simply, the determined sentence is not sufficient to protect the public," the judge told him.
The court heard on the evening of October 3, 2018, Stewart was in a Peugeot with Smith, 20, Crowley, 21, Gavin Munro and James Tyler Metcalfe, who had set up a new gang.
They were driving around the Lings, Billing and Blackthorn areas with weapons, listening to sexually graphic rap music and posting videos on social media to taunt a rival gang.
Judge Fowler told Stewart he aligned himself with others 'who were clearly acting as part of a gang', adding: "It was a wholly aggressive and dangerous atmosphere from start to finish."
Eventually, the group came across two men smoking outside The Elwes Arms pub on High Street and recognised one of their first names to be the same as a known member of the rival gang.
So the group, wearing masks and carrying weapons, got out of the car - Smith approached with a machete but was told they were not part of any gang.
They turned to run away but Smith hacked one of them in the back three times, the court heard.
"Fortunately the victim survived the stabbing. He was in the hospital for three days and suffered an experience that still affects him psychologically and socially," the judge remarked.
Stewart was apparently stood next to the other man throughout but after the attack, they jumped back in the car and drove off, taking a picture by a street sign on their way home.
Geoff Knowles, defending, said the defendant accepts he was in the car and was aware that others had weapons but he did not have any nor did he use them.
"When you speak to him, he comes over as someone who recognises the stupidity of his actions on this night," the lawyer said.
"He's not a gang member, why the hell he got involved with this lot on that night is something he is remorseful for and ashamed of.
"He knows he was better than that but by his actions and involvement, he faces a further lengthy period in custody."
Stewart was described by the judge as having a 'significant record of offending', including a conviction in 2011 for causing GBH with intent after stabbing someone who informed on his friend.
Before the attack, he had taken himself away from Northampton and moved to Bishop Auckland in County Durham, where he was working and in a 'loving' relationship, including looking after an autistic child.
But as Mr Knowles said: "It's clear he either finds trouble or trouble finds him."
Smith and Crowley were jailed for life with a minimum of 34 years and 30 years respectively in November last year over Reece's murder, with the attack taken into account, which they pleaded guilty to.
Munro, 31, and Metcalfe, 20, were jailed for 12 years and nine years respectively for their parts in the attack.