Sheffield dad killed in stabbing had been ‘set up,’ court told

Three men have gone on trial accused of murdering a Sheffield dad in a knife attack carried out in broad daylight.

Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 2:52 pm
Jarvin Blake died from stab wound to the chest

22-year-old Jarvin Blake died from a knife wound to the chest a matter of minutes after being stabbed in Catherine Street, Burngreave at around 3pm on March 8 last year.

The defendants and charges:

Josiah Foster, 26, of Cookson Close, Wadsley Bridge; Caine Gray, 27, of Treetown Crescent, Treeton and Devon Walker, 24, formerly of Burngreave, went on trial at Sheffield Crown Court today charged with Mr Blake’s murder.

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The scene on Catherine Street, Burngreave after Mr Blake was killed

The three defendants deny the charge.

Walker denies a further charge of inflicting actual bodily harm on Mr Blake’s friend, Declan Maw, during the same incident.

A fourth defendant, Lewis Barker, 27, of HMP Lincoln, pleaded guilty to Mr Blake’s murder on Monday, and will be sentenced following the conclusion of this trial. He was remanded into custody until then.

The prosecution case:

Simon Kealey QC, prosecuting, said it is The Crown’s case that Walker directed the other defendants in a car driven by Foster to a residential street where Mr Blake and Mr Maw were walking with Walker ‘so they could attack him’.

“Jarvin Blake and Declan Maw were then chased on foot along the street.

“When Mr Blake was caught, he was stabbed a number of times, including a fatal blow to the chest resulting in his death. Mr Maw was also chased a short distance where he was then assaulted and struck with a paving stone by Walker,” said Mr Kealey, adding: “The prosecution case is that each of the defendants played a part in the fatal attack upon Jarvin Blake.

“The prosecution are not able to say which of the defendants inflicted the blows with a knife but each was aware of, and agreed to the plan to inflict really serious injury or death upon Jarvin Blake and deliberately assisted or encouraged another or others in an unlawful attack.”

The jury was told how in the hours before the attack, Mr Blake, who was father to three young children, had picked up Mr Maw and Walker in his black Vauxhall Corsa.

Mr Kealey said that around 3.12pm, Mr Blake, Mr Maw and Walker walked up Catherine Street at the same time as the Volvo containing Barker, Gray and Foster arrived on the scene.

“Declan Maw said that as the three of them walked up Catherine Street, there was a car already there as though it was waiting for them. He described how Walker went to the car as though he knew the occupants, which mobile phone contact suggests he did. He thought that both he and Jarvin Blake were being set up and tried to get away. One of those men had what Mr Maw thought was an army combat knife,” said Mr Kealey.

Mr Maw attempted to scale a fence into a nearby garden, but fell into the front garden, where he was assaulted. He saw Mr Blake run off, but did not see what happened to him next. Mr Maw suffered a dislocated hip in the attack.

Alleged motive and background to the fatal attack:

Mr Kealey said the motive for the attacks on Mr Blake and Mr Maw is not known, but said Mr Blake was a ‘small scale drug dealer’ who had progressed from selling cannabis to selling Class A drugs sometime in 2017, which brought ‘serious trouble’.

He said both men had been ‘the subject of serious assaults and threats’ in the months before the fatal assault, and Mr Blake’s partner, Kelsey Dixon, believed both men were selling Class A drugs.

Mr Blake was at home with Ms Dixon on November 3, 2017 when a masked moped rider shot at the house with a ‘submachine gun’ before driving away, Mr Kealey told the court.

Police subsequently searched Mr Blake’s home and found Class A and Class B drugs, and he pleaded guilty to the possession of the drugs found.

Three days later, Mr Maw was stabbed to the back of his neck, back of the flanks and left thigh in Blackstock Road, Gleadless Valley.

Mr Kealey said that at the time of his stabbing, Mr Maw was wearing a stab vest and found near to him were ‘packages of heroin and crack cocaine together with a mobile phone containing text messages relating to drug dealing’.

Ms Dixon described how after the two incidents, Mr Blake began to wear a bulletproof vest, asked her to live with her mother and stopped going to Gleadless Valley.

“It may well be that those assaults and this fatal assault are connected to the dealing of illicit drugs, and disputes arising out of that,” said Mr Kealey.

Phone evidence:

Mr Kealey that from 3.30pm on the day of Mr Blake’s death defendants Walker, Gray and Foster spoke, or attempted to speak to each other, on over 30 occasions.

“That pattern and level of phone communication was highly unusual for those individuals in the weeks leading up to the murder. Although Foster and Walker had communicated previously, it was generally infrequent,” he said.

Police seized phones belonging to the four defendants, Jarvin Blake and a number of other individuals.

Mr Kealey said police analysis of a phone found at Barker’s home, bearing his finger prints, revealed that the phone’s user had searched for the phrases ‘corkscrew knife,’ ‘spiral knife wound’ and ‘tri blade’.

“On 11th March 2018 [there was] a search for ‘Sheffield news stabbing’.

Police interviews:

When interviewed by police, Caine answered no comment to all questions.

Walker said he had known Mr Blake for many years, and had met him on the day of the fatal stabbing to get some food.

He denied knowing Barker or Gray.

The court heard how Walker claims to have been walking on Catherine Street with Mr Blake and Mr Maw, when a car being driven by a man he and Mr Blake knew to be called Josiah pulled up.

“As they were chatting two men jumped out of the car, from the front and rear passenger doors. Devon Walker said he didn’t know either and not seen them before. The front seat passenger chased after Declan Maw, who tried to jump into the garden of a nearby house...the other man chased Jarvin Blake and both went up Catherine Street. Walker said he stood watching and saw Mr Blake and the man running around a car parked on a driveway. He saw Mr Blake punch the man and both became involved in a scuffle which appeared to be a fist fight.”

The jury was told that Foster admitted being the driver of the Volvo, and told officers that at about 2.30pm on the day of the fatal attack he had parked it on Eden Hall Road.

“After about half an hour he said he was going to Parson Cross and two of the men at the address asked for a lift to which he agreed. He said they were white males, one got in the front and one in the rear passenger seat,” said Mr Kealey.

He added: “As he was driving he saw his friend Devon Walker who he knew as ‘Dubz’ walking along the road. He said that Walker had been texting him and he hadn’t replied so felt he couldn’t drive past without stopping to talk.“

“They began chatting and he recognised Jarvin Blake. He then heard some sort of commotion and mention of the police. He then got back into the car and thought the other two men had as well.

“As they drove off they wouldn’t tell him what had happened. He drove to his mother’s house and the other two men went on their way. He later found out what had happened to Jarvin Blake,” said Mr Kealey.

Caine Gray, Devon Walker and Josiah Foster all deny murdering Mr Blake. Walker denies an additional charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, relating to the alleged assault on Mr Maw.

The trial continues.