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Teen jailed for life for stabbing cyclist

CCTV footage of the killing
CCTV footage of the killing

A teenager has been sentenced to life behind bars for the "gratuitous and senseless" stabbing of a 15-year-old cyclist.

Joshua Williams, 18, lashed out with a blade as popular young student Alan Cartwright was riding along Caledonian Road, north London, with his friends in February.

Joshua Williams

At the time of the attack caught on graphic CCTV, Williams had been on police bail on suspicion of possessing a four-inch lock knife, although he was never charged.

A jury took just three hours yesterday to convict Williams and today he was sentenced to a minimum of 21 years for murder and eight years, to run concurrently, for conspiracy to rob.

Jailing him, Judge Rebecca Poulet QC told him: "This was a gratuitous and senseless piece of violence. It was motivated by acquisitive greed and the incident has rightly horrified and dismayed the public."

Alan was a wholly innocent boy who was unconnected with gangs, she told the defendant. "You have taken his life in a pathetic and unsuccessful attempt to steal a bike."

The judge went on: "The whole incident was captured on CCTV. We watched you, Joshua Williams, step out with deliberation and swing your left arm at the upper chest of the first boy in the line of cyclists. The action is very swift but firm and fatal."

Judge Poulet acknowledged a moving statement from Alan's mother Michelle laid bare the "heartbreak" that Williams' actions had caused to the whole family.

Family members wept in court as Alan's killer was sent down without showing any emotion.

Yesterday, they had issued a call for more stop and searches and tougher 10-year mandatory sentences for possessing knives to deter young people.

On the evening of February 27, Alan was cycling with five friends when Williams and two other youths intercepted them, the trial heard.

In just seven seconds, they stepped out in front of the cyclists and managed to take two bikes before the third robber approached Alan in the road and swung a knife at his chest in a "deliberate and gratuitous" stabbing, Mr Rees said.

Despite being mortally wounded, Alan did not come off his bike and he managed to cycle on before collapsing a short distance up the road outside the Cally swimming pool.

He was pronounced dead a short time later despite the efforts of a first aider, police and paramedics.

Alan Cartwright

After police released CCTV footage of the attack on Alan, Williams was identified in a comment on YouTube by his nickname Slimzy.

Days later, his parents accompanied him to a police station to hand himself in, with Williams telling an officer: "It's the right thing to do, isn't it?"

But he later claimed in court that he only went there to clear his name and he was at a youth club at the time of the killing.

However, his alibi collapsed in the trial and jurors spotted his Christian family did not all swear on the bible when they appeared to back up his story.

In her sentencing remarks, Judge Poulet said the "false account" from Williams' family of what happened in the police station was disappointing.

Because he "lost the courage" he had shown in initially handing himself in, he could not have been given the considerable credit for a guilty plea which would have lessened his sentenced, she told him.

Earlier in mitigation, Bernard Richmond QC said Williams' parents were "anxious" to make it clear that in failing to swear on the Bible, they followed a line in it that "taking oaths is not acceptable".

He told the court that he could not explain why a young man from a good family who had experienced the loss of a brother could find himself in Williams' position.

He added: "The point I am asked to make is young people do think in very different ways and make very wrong decisions."

As Williams was sent down, an on-looker in the public gallery shouted out "scumbag".

Williams' co-defendants, 18-year-old Shaquille Roberts and a 16-year-old, have already pleaded guilty to the bicycle robbery and will be sentenced later.