Levi Davis death: The story of how a fateful quarrel ended in two young people dead and a third in prison
A court has heard for the first time what happened on the night Levi Davis died in Rushden in December 2019
As news began to filter through that at young mum had been killed in what was described by police as a 'sudden death', the nation's media descended on a quiet street in Rushden, .
Local people tired to make sense of what had happened and wild rumours began to emerge on social media.
But on Friday (July 23), nearly 20 months after the death of Levi Davis, 25, the events of the night of December 7, 2019, finally emerged in court.
The crown's case was that Levi Davis and her boyfriend Jake Swords, 28, had gone out looking for victim Luke Barnard, who had been in a relationship with Levi's sister Jordan Davis, after a row between the sisters had been stoked by others. After finding him and crashing a van into him, the pair got out of their white van, both armed with knives, and began a vicious assault.
Luke Barnard was stabbed but, despite extensive injuries and a broken ankle, managed to take one of the knives that Levi Davis and Jake Swords had brought to the scene off Wellingborough Road and stabbed Levi Davis in self-defence.
As she lay dying in the street, her boyfriend Swords took his knife and handed it to his friend Anthony Spring, 30, who had watched the assault unfold. He wiped it on the grass, ran off, and hid it.
Spring, formerly of Doddington Road, Wellingborough, was in court via videolink from prison on Friday to be sentenced after pleading guilty to possession of an offensive weapon and for assisting an offender. He had verbally abused the judge and refused to appear before the court at previous hearings.
His role in the events of the night was serious and the court heard his actions could have prevented police from carrying out a proper investigation into the crimes that took place that night.
But mercifully the whole incident was caught on CCTV, meaning whatever rumours had been circulating in the community could be finally put to bed.
Mr Barnard, then 28, was initially arrested on suspicion of murder, but was released without charge after video showed him to have acted solely in self-defence.
Swords was arrested for attempted murder but died in prison last month before he could stand trial. No cause of death has been revealed by the authorities and an investigation is under way.
Prosecutor Anwar Nashashibi outlined the events to a hushed courtroom, interrupted only by Spring who shouted out several times when he disagreed with the crown's case.
Mr Nashashibi said: "Jake Swords and Levi Davis were going out with each other.
"Levi was the sister of Jordan Davis and they lived together at Levi's house with their respective children.
"Jordan was seeing Lucas Barnard. There was a falling out between the sisters that came to a head on December 7 when Alex Camacho, who was an associate of Jake Swords and Lucas Barnard, telephoned Jake Swords to threaten him.
"It was after that that they went to look for Lucas Barnard.
"Meanwhile, Jake Swords had been in contact with Anthony Spring since 5.30pm and they spoke five minutes after Alex Camacho had threatened Jake Swords. The defendant (Spring) knew of the quarrel that was coming to a head that evening.
"About ten minutes later, Jake Swords and Levi Davis drove to drop off Levi's children at the grandmother's house and went to Washbrook Road where knives were collected. They picked up this defendant and drove off looking for Lucas Barnard."
The group, in a white van, spotted Mr Barnard diving a Polo in the opposite direction, turned around, and gave chase.
Mr Nashashibi continued: "Lucas Barnard drove to Wellingborough Road in Rushden to his mother's house. He stopped and ran around the back of the car and the van hit Lucas Barnard at the back of the vehicle, breaking his ankle.
"He fled, chased by Jake Swords who threatened to stab him.
"Spring fled, running, then stopped.
"Jake Swords chased Lucas Barnard, kicked him and stamped on him. Levi Davis then joined the attack, throwing a brick at him while Lucas Barnard was still on the ground.
"In the course of that fight Levi Davis received that fatal blow, with Mr Barnard taking the knife which injured her, causing her to collapse."
The court heard that CCTV footage tshowed Levi Davis managing to get up and walk down the road before collapsing again. Lucas Barnard managed to escape into his mother's house where he was found with a broken leg and other injuries including defensive knife wounds
Jake Swords then realised his girlfriend had been seriously injured.
Anthony Spring saw the entire incident and the crown said he also had his own knife at the scene, which he denied from the dock.
He shouted out several times in court, saying: "Levi did not have a knife. I'm not going to listen to lies."
While Levi Davis was on the floor receiving emergency first aid from a member of the public, Jake Swords took one of the knives and handed it to Spring who wiped it on the grass and then left.
Mr Nashashabi continued: "Mr Spring was arrested a few minutes later on the same road but did not have the knife on him."
The weapon has never been recovered.
In police interview Spring admitted being at the scene of the incident but made no other admissions.
Spring was arrested on the same day as the murder for an unconnected robbery at Rushden Lakes and, from January 2020, was a serving prisoner at HMP Peterborough. The court was told he had he had 59 offences on his record including six public order offences, numerous criminal damage charges and had received a sentence of three-and-a-half-years for robbery in 2013. He had also been caught with a knife that same year and then had been convicted of the Rushden Lakes robbery 2020 for which he received an 18 month sentence.
Although Her Honour Judge Adrienne Lucking said that no jury would ever now determine what Swords' intention was that night, the prosecution said that it was clear Spring must have believed his friend intended to do 'really serious harm'.
Mitigating for Spring, barrister Neil King said that his client 'was not being sentenced for what other may or may not have done, but only for what he did.'
He added: "While he had witnessed what must have been a serious assault, it was one from which Mr Barnard was able to flee.
"An associate of his handed him a knife, he's taken it, wiped it and disposed of it. His criminality lasted ten minutes. It didn't require any particular cunning or guile.
"There's concern that his concealment of the knife may have hindered the investigation. The whole incident was caught on CCTV. The victim had knife wounds and Jake Swords admitted having a knife."
He also said his client had been distressed by the delay in hearing the case and had spent his time on remand in Covid conditions, which mean prisoners are locked up for most of their days and nights.
"This has had horrific consequences and while he can only ask for scant regard for that... he's lost two people very close to him as a result of these actions and that has had a salutary effect on him."
Mr King said that his client would now tell the police where the knife was hidden.
"He's a man who has serious previous convictions but it may well be that this offence has at last proven a real turning point."
He added that Spring had himself asked to be banned from Northamptonshire on his release from prison.
"He's someone who get into trouble and he doesn't want to anymore. He's somebody who, in the future, doesn't want to returning to court.
"Mr Spring did nothing with that knife apart from disposing of it."
Sentencing Spring to four-and-a-half years in jail, of which he will serve half before being released on licence, Judge Lucking took the unusual step of allowing him to address the court, during which time he defended his friend Levi Davis.
He said: "If you go through the statements not once does it say Levi had a knife. Levi was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She had nothing to do with it."
Judge Lucking said she would overlook a previous contempt of court when Spring had verbally abused her because she acknowledged how upset he had been about the recent death of Jake Swords.
She also said that she had taken into account the amount of time he had already spent on remand and his guilty pleas.
"You assisted an offender by hiding a knife that had just been used to stab someone," she said.
"It was an incident in a public street. You witnessed that incident and saw the extent of the violence. The reality is that Mr Barnard was stabbed in the course of that incident.
"You knew Lucas Barnard was injured and that Levi Davis was seriously injured.
"The concealment of the knife might have meant that the crown may never have known that Jake Swords had a knife."
Just weeks before the death of his girlfriend, Jake Swords had previously pleaded guilty to malicious communications after posting a picture of a man on Facebook with the caption 'Paedophile in Rushden. Be careful.' The accusation was completely fabricated by Swords, who admitted the offence.
He had denied the attempted murder of Lucas Barnard and his trial, which was delayed, was due to take place this September. But he died in on remand in HMP Peterborough before it could take place so will never have the chance to answer the accusations against him.
Levi and Jordan Davis's dad Shaun Davis is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence for his part in a Rushden Class-A drug dealing conspiracy. He was previously dubbed 'Britain's fastest speeding motorist' after filming himself driving at speeds of up to 192mph on local roads including the A45. He had reportedly pleaded with the authorites to let him out for hiis daughter's funeral.
Levi's daughters were aged just two and five when their mother died and went to live with their devastated father after her death.