A Thornton Heath teenager who attacked a car with a “zombie knife” in broad daylight has been jailed for three-and-a-half year’s after his sentence was reviewed by the Court of Appeal.
The lenient sentencing of Joshua Gardner sparked anger after he escaped jail despite being captured on dashcam footage wielding a large knife.
The 18-year-old had walked free from court with a two-year suspended sentence in November after trying to smash his way into a car on a busy Croydon road.
He was convicted of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm, affray and possession of an offensive weapon after the incident was captured in May last year and went viral.
Solicitor General Robert Buckland referred his initial sentence to the Court of Appeal “due to the serious nature of the offence concerned.”
On Wednesday, three senior judges decided to increase Gardner’s sentence to three-and-and-a-half years in prison.
Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice after the hearing, Mr Buckland said: “I’m very pleased that the Court of Appeal has today reflected the deep and growing public concern about knife crime.
“I think it sends a very clear message to people who choose to carry weapons of this nature that this will not be tolerated.”
Old Bailey Judge Anuja Dhir QC, decided not to jail Gardner after reading a supportive letter from Gardner’s mother, as well as a probation report outlining his troubled upbringing including, at the age of 13, finding his brother dead from a seizure.
This was the same mitigation used by his older brother Uriah who was 16 when he was jailed for 14 years in 2014 after stabbing Fico Dougan, 17, to death in Croydon.
Uriah who was described as a ‘psychopath’ muRdered his friend Fico with a kitchen knife in front of a toddler suggesting the killing had been triggered by post-traumatic stress disorder following the sudden death of his brother Leon, 28, who had died two weeks before of a seizure.
Just three months prior to escaping jail Joshua Gardner had been handed a youth rehabilitation order by Croydon magistrates for attempting to rob a 12-year-old boy while brandishing a pocket knife.
Judge Anuja Dhir QC in sentencing Joshua said: “Given all that I have seen, heard and read about you, I think this sentence offers protection to the public and punishment by way of a curfew and the unpaid work, but also it provides you with an opportunity to address your offending behaviour.”
Judge Dhir, the youngest and first non white judge to be appointed to the Old Bailey, was also told that Joshua Gardner claimed to have been the victim of a kidnapping at the end of March, where he was held in a “trap house” for ten days and forced to sell drugs.
Defence lawyer Mark Stevens told the court his client was ‘thoroughly ashamed’ of himself and for the ‘pain’ he had put his family through.
“His mother is really looking to move away from the area. It is a completely different borough,” he said.
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has announced a review of Gardner’s case after a public petiition launched by an anti-knife group called for Judge Dhir to be sacked.
Mayor for London Sadiq Khan, himself a lawyer, also wrote to the Attorney General telling him the leniency of the sentence risks undermining public confidence in ‘our criminal justice system’ and fails to act as a ‘deterrent to others intent on committing violent crime’.
The frightening video was filmed on a busy street in West Croydon showed Gardner who was 17 at the time armed with the combat knife throwing his bike aside and forcing the vehicles driver to flee on foot.
Footage of the incident, which happened at 5pm on May 30, went viral online.
In response to the incident, Croydon North MP Steve Reed wrote to the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, to call for more to be done to tackle the ‘rapid escalation’ in knife crime.
*In contrast in the same month Judge Dhir , a former Harris Academy student, jailed two hackers for helping to perpertrate a data breach at the UK telecommunications provider TalkTalk jailing; one of them for 12 months.