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James Bascoe-Smith: Men who stabbed teen and left him ‘dead’ for nearly an hour sentenced to life in prison

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Two men who stabbed a teenager and left him effectively dead for nearly an hour have been sentenced to life in prison.

James Bascoe-Smith was 17 when he was assaulted last year, leaving him using a wheelchair and struggling to communicate.

James was surrounded by family and friends at the Old Bailey as his two attackers were sentenced for conspiracy to murder.

Leon Rashid, 20, was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 14 years and Taiquane Lewis, 19, was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 13 years.

Rashid had also been found guilty of having an offensive weapon.

The judge said it was a “carefully planned attack”.

“You chose an entirely innocent teenager, James who had nothing to do with 410 (gang) and was simply testing a bicycle to make sure it was safe for his mum to use.

“Had it not been for the medical intervention, this would have been a murder trial.

“He is a shadow is his old self and will never be able to lead a normal life again.”

A third defendant, Stephanie Paez-Lopez, 20, was cleared of assisting an offender by helping to get rid of a Range Rover used in the attack.

James Bascoe-Smith
Image:
James Bascoe-Smith

Victim video called his mother as he effectively died

James was knocked off his bike, which he was test riding for his mother, and knifed by masked men in Brixton, south London, on 23 February last year.

He video-called her from his mobile phone as he lay on the ground and effectively died in the street near his home before he was saved in hospital.

he spent 174 days in hospital before he was allowed to return home, where he continues to work on his recovery – achieving 100 sit-ups in his wheelchair.

‘Since the attack my life has changed’

In a pre-recorded video played during the hearing, James asked why the defendants targeted him and whether they now “feel bad”.

“When I was stabbed by these people I remember crying out for my mum and pleading for them to stop,” he said.

“I do not remember much and I could not communicate for six months after the attack.

“Since the attack my life has changed.

“They have stopped me from driving, going on my first holiday with my friends to celebrate my 18th birthday, gymnastics coaching, working and from becoming a music producer as I was studying this in college.”

He described moving away from Brixton, leaving behind friends, neighbours and “everyone that I knew”.

He added: “I now need a carer full time, they are complete strangers to me who come in to provide me my personal care, to feed and clothe me.

“I cannot get out of bed on my own, I can’t even brush my own teeth and I need a lot of medication to help me with my recovery.

“I have been left in a wheelchair that is not electric, I rely on everyone to move me, I have no independence.

“I now have a brain injury because my heart stopped for nearly an hour, I don’t think I will ever be able to work or study again.

‘I just want to know why they attacked me’

“I was very active before the attack, I was very involved in my community and helping my family, I would pick up my little cousins from school help them with their work and I would coach them at gymnastics.

“I did not deserve this, I had no issues with anyone, I don’t know why they attacked me, I just want to know why they attacked me and if they feel bad for what they have done.”

He said: “I am grateful that the doctors saved my life but living like this is hard, I miss my friends, I miss my old life, every day I wake up knowing this is how I will be forever.”

Speaking outside the Old Bailey, James’s aunt Rachel Duncan said: “James was fortunate to have survived, however he has been left with severe life-changing injuries.”

She added: “This should not have happened and I urge people who carry knives to stop. Please stop.

“The trauma caused to my nephew and my family mean we are now living with the impact of knife violence forever.”

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