Sheffield dad may have been murdered over drug 'turf war,' court told
A Sheffield dad stabbed to death in broad daylight may have been killed over drug ‘turf wars,’ a court heard.
Jarvin Blake was just 22-years-old when he was knifed to death at the junction of Catherine Street and Brackley Street, Burngreave on March 8 last year.
Lewis Barker, 27, of HMP Lincoln pleaded guilty to his murder while Caine Gray, 27, of Treetown Crescent, Treeton was found guilty of Mr Blake’s murder last month, following a five-week trial at Sheffield Crown Court.
Josiah Foster, 26, of Cookson Close, Wadsley Bridge and Devon Walker, 25, formerly of Burngreave, were both found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter during the same trial. Walker was also found guilty of an offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm carried out against Mr Blake’s friend, Declan Maw, in the same incident.
The sentencing hearing was opened and mitigated this afternoon, but sentence will now be passed on Wednesday afternoon due to proceedings starting late.
Prosecutor, Simon Kealey QC told the court that Mr Blake, who leaves behind three young children, was a ‘low-level’ drug dealer who progressed into selling Class As in 2017.
The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, told the court that he believed a ‘reasonable inference’ to make from the circumstances surrounding Mr Blake’s death was that he was killed as a result of a drug ‘turf war’.
“This was a planned attack to do really serious harm against the backdrop of turf wars relating to drugs,” added Judge Richardson.
Mr Kealey said Mr Blake’s involvement with Class A drugs, brought with it ‘serious trouble’.
The court heard how Mr Blake’s home was shot at by two masked men on a moped weilding a submachine gun on November 3, 2017.
Three days later, Mr Maw, who is also believed to have been involved with selling Class A drugs was stabbed in the neck, back, flank and thighs.
Mr Kealey said police found him wounded on Blackstock Road, Gleadless with packets of Class A drugs scattered near to where he lay.
In the hours preceding the fatal attack, the court heard how Mr Blake and Mr Maw had spent the day with Walker; and as they crossed Catherine Street, Burngreave at around 3pm that day a Volvo vehicle containing Foster, Barker and Gray pulled up.
“He [Mr Maw] described how Walker went to the car as though he knew the occupants, which mobile phone contact suggests that he did,” said Mr Kealey.
Mr Blake and Mr Maw were subsequently chased.
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Mr Maw was hit with a paving stone in a nearby garden and Mr Blake was chased round a corner where he was fatally stabbed.
In a statement submitted to the court, Mr Blake’s partner, Kelsey Dixon, described how she was with her three children when she received a phone call informing her that Mr Blake had died.
“I didn’t have the courage to tell my children their father was dead for several weeks. The children would ask where he was and I wasn’t able to tell them,” said Kelsey.
She added: “He was my world, he was a joker, his laugh was infectious. He cared about the people he loved and would help anyone. Family and children were everything to him.”
Kelsey had wanted to read her statement to the court but Judge Richardson said he would prefer that she didn’t, owing to the murder being carried out in the context of drug dealing offences and the fact ‘tensions’ were ‘running high’ in court.
Mr Kealey described how after Barker entered his guilty plea, he passed a note to a prison guard at HMP Hull, where he was remanded into custody, asking them to inform the police that he knew where the knife used to murder Mr Blake was.
"He said it was in Ladybowyer Reservoir. He said it was in the water," said Mr Kealey.
When asked how he knew it was there, Barker answered 'no comment'.
Police searched the water between April 1 - 5 this year, but did not find the weapon.
Gul Nawaz Hussain QC, representing Barker, said: “Lewis Barker is before the court for choices he made...he is fully aware that he chose the life he lived & knows he must face the consequences.”
Gul Nawaz Hussain QC, representing Barker, said: “He is fully aware that he chose the life he lived and knows he must face the consequences.”
Abdul Iqbal QC, representing Gray, said: “He accepts acutely that the criminality that leads to the situation his partner and 10-month-old find themselves in he only has himself to blame for that.”
Representing Walker, Ann Cotcher QC, said the real punishment for her client was the way in which he had let his family and his friend down.
Mark George QC, mitgating for Foster, said he had helped police with their investigations.
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