The mum of a teenage boy killed in a savage and senseless machete attack in Huddersfield has told how the family’s lives have been destroyed by what happened.
Janet Brown fled Deptford, East London, with son Harley when she thought he was being groomed by gangs.
Janet brought Harley to live with his uncle in Huddersfield to be safe but instead his life was ended in an unprovoked attack by a teenager who carried a 25cm long machete out of “habit.”
Harley, 17, was attacked in Maple Street, Huddersfield, on February 20 this year and suffered multiple stab wounds.
His killers, aged 15 and 17, who cannot be named for legal reasons, both admitted murder. They claimed to be high on nitrous oxide, or ‘laughing gas’, at the time.
Both were given life sentences with a minimum term of 10 years and three months and 14 years and six months respectively.
In a heartbreaking statement, Janet told Leeds Crown Court: “I wanted to keep him safe. I gave up everything to make sure Harley was safe.”
Speaking directly to his killers, Janet said: “I brought Harley to Huddersfield to be safe. He won’t celebrate any more Christmases or birthdays.
“He won’t ever get married, have kids, get a job, drive a car, or have the chance to do the right thing and support his own family one day.
“You two get to continue with your lives, Harley doesn’t, I don’t, his sisters don’t, his brother doesn’t. You have destroyed a whole family.”
Harley’s sisters added: “You two have not just taken our little brother’s life, you have taken so much else from us. You have ripped a whole loving close family apart and our lives won’t be the same again.
“We struggle to process what has happened and grieve ourselves. We have to realise that our little brother Harley has been killed and is never coming back.”
Leeds Crown Court heard that Harley had met his killers by chance in the doorway of a 24-hour shop at about 3.40am on Monday February 20.
The two boys were 14 and 16 at the time and were known to Harley. They chased him to Maple Street where he was attacked. He staggered to Kings Mill Lane and was found by emergency services having suffered multiple stab wounds. He died a short time later in hospital.
Sentencing, the Judge the Honourable Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb DBE said the boys “had no grudge against Harley” but decided to challenge him on behalf of others who they believed were owed money. One of the boys habitually carried a weapon, it was said.
The judge added: “There is no good reason for carrying a knife in public. It isn’t big, it isn’t tough. It’s a path to despair and destruction. It didn’t make Harley Brown safe. It led to his death.
“It didn’t make these defendants safe. They will lose a significant part of their lives in custody and they will have on their conscience that they took another young person’s life. For what? For nothing.
“The simple truth is that only knives that are carried can be used. The law says a clear and firm message. Young people must heed it, they must listen to the law’s message rather than those liars and manipulators who tell them to carry a knife.”
Det Supt Alan Weekes, who led the murder inquiry, said: “The murder of Harley sadly stands as a terrible example of the dreadful consequences of knife crime.
“These males were prepared to use appalling violence, almost on a whim, and anyone prepared to act in such a way clearly has no place on the streets.”
Chief Supt Jim Griffiths, District Commander of Kirklees Police, said: “Knife crime, thankfully, continues to fall in Kirklees with a 21% reduction in knife offences involving people under 25 in the last 12 months.
“We realise, however, that is clearly no consolation to victims or the relatives of victims in appalling offences such as these.
“It is chilling that some young people feel it is acceptable to act in this way, carry weapons and inflict such savage violence on each other.
“We must remember that those who do so are very much in the minority but very much appreciate the fear and concern these incidents cause.
“We and colleagues in the Violence Reduction Partnership are in the midst of a massive programme to reduce knife crime in West Yorkshire through both education and enforcement action against those determined to carry and use knives.
“Those education initiatives have now reached tens of thousands of children across the force area and we continue to ask for help from communities to tell us about those carrying these weapons.”