Judge warns of 'terrifying' spread of knife crime after Norfolk-Suffolk revenge gang murders

  • Rob Setchell reports from court on the day two teenagers were jailed for murder

The growing threat of "terrifying" gang-related crime is blighting once-peaceful communities, a judge warned as he jailed two teenage killers for a rival gang revenge murder.

Judge Martyn Levett said knife crime was in danger of replacing Suffolk's “historic reputation of peacefulness" and hit out at gang ringleaders controlling operations without facing trial.

His comments were made during the sentencing of two teenagers who murdered an 18-year-old on a busy street in Ipswich in revenge for another teenager's murder in Norwich.

Alfie Hammett and Joshua Howell, both 19, were sentenced to life terms for the murder of James Quigley, and must serve a minimum of 24 years and 20 years respectively.

The Norwich-based 3rdside gang, of which Hammett was a member, was the same gang that 18-year old Joe Dix belonged to before he was murdered on a housing estate in the city in 2022.

Mr Justice Levett described Mr Quigley's murder on 17 January 2023 as an act of "retribution".

He said: "This was in my judgment a revenge gang killing, orchestrated and directed through others who have not faced trial.

Joe Dix was stabbed seven times and found lying in a road with serious knife wounds in January 2022 Credit: Norfolk Police

"The frequency and grave level of violence now displayed in Ipswich... is a worrying aspect for all communities.

"Knife crime has no place in a modern society and should not be glorified. It brings fear and chaos to communities.”

He added: "The terrifying reality of opposing gangs in Suffolk is now extending to confronting each other from different areas in adjoining counties such as [Norfolk] and when affiliate members engage in violence, they routinely carry knives.

"The choice of knife is invariably a very dangerous bladed article like a machete whichkills."

He said: "This gang violence featuring in our Suffolk communities is blighting the historic reputation of peacefulness and replacing it with a belief that streets, shopping areas and thoroughfares are unsafe to visit alone or with their children.

"A consequence of that fear is that it is affecting the local economy and vibrancy of town centres."

The court heard how Hammett received a phone call from a member of the "3rdside" gang which prompted him to leave his house and meet up with Howell - a call which prosecutors believe was the order to hunt down Quigley.

Det Ch Insp Tam Burgess said: “I am still staggered by the brazen way in which Hammett and Howell committed this heinous crime in such a public place.

"Across the country we are seeing too many deaths of this nature. This senseless loss of young lives has to stop."

Three men - Cameron Palmer, Benjamin Gil and Hans Beeharry - were sentenced to a minimum of 20 years for Dix's murder in October last year.

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