Video report by Kris Jepson
A boy has been found guilty of the murder of a 14-year-old teenager and attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to another boy.
A 15-year-old schoolboy has been found guilty of stabbing Tomasz Oleszak to death at the Whitehills Nature Park, Gateshead on 3 October 2022.
Leighton Amies has also been found guilty by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court of attempting to commit grievous bodily harm by slashing another boy's coat during the incident.
Detective Inspector Chris Deavin, of Northumbria Police, speaking outside Newcastle Crown Court
The defendant, who was 14 at the time of the incident, had already admitted to illegally carrying a knife.
The media had been unable to identify Amies due to his age. However, Mr Justice Spencer, sitting at Newcastle Crown Court, has lifted a reporting ban.
The judge said: “There is a public interest in trying to deflect young people from the carrying of knives, where when that happens, this kind of utterly tragic outcome can occur.”
During the three-week trial, the jury heard evidence from a number of young witnesses about the events that night.
CCTV was shown of a group of youths following the defendant and his girlfriend into the park before the stabbing. The jury heard Tomasz Oleszak joined the group after they had entered the park.
The defendant had claimed to the jury that the group attacked him in the darkness of night, punching and kicking him to the ground and that he acted in self-defence when he pulled out the knife from his body warmer pocket.
However, the jury rejected his defence.
The jury was told by a pathologist that Tomasz died from an 8cm deep stab wound just above the heart, which entered his main artery out of the heart, the aorta.
The court heard from witnesses who claimed the defendant had said "I have wetted your boy", which means he had been stabbed. The prosecution told the jury that this was "a boast" and that "he wanted them to know he had stabbed one of their number".
The jury heard how the defendant told a friend that he had stabbed someone, but did not know who it was, and that he asked that friend if he knew of a good location to hide the knife and bury it.
That friend, who pointed out the knife to police, said in a statement read out in court: "He was bouncing all over… he seemed happy that he had done it… he looked like himself… it didn’t faze him at all".
Following the hearing, Detective Inspector Chris Deavin, of Northumbria Police, said: “This is a truly tragic case in which a teenager has lost his life and our thoughts very much remain with Tomasz’s heartbroken family and loved ones.
“Tomasz had his whole life ahead of him, he was a promising footballer and a popular pupil at his school.
"Today, Leighton Amies has been found guilty of murder but no conviction or any length of sentence will ever bring Tomasz back.
“We want to send an unequivocal message to anyone who chooses to carry a weapon of any kind or believes that violence is acceptable – the consequences can be devastating.
“Look at the pain this tragedy has caused – not only could you take away someone else’s future and destroy the lives of their loved ones, but also ruin your own and those of your family and friends.”
Det Insp Deavin added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the community for their cooperation and support following this tragedy.
“We recognise the impact such incidents have and as a force we are fully committed to tackling violent crime.
“This includes working with partners to carry out prevention activity, including educating children and young adults about the dangers of carrying weapons, and holding proactive operations, such as knife searches and targeting suspects.
“However, when incidents do occur, we are absolutely committed to bringing those responsible to justice.
“We would also ask everyone to play their part too. We ask parents to speak to their children about the dangers of carrying a knife and ask everyone to report any concerns or suspicions. If you believe a friend or someone you know is carrying a knife – speak to officers.
“Most importantly, we implore those who do carry a knife or believe it is a wise, admirable or a necessary thing to do, to think again and stop.”
Amies will be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on 15 June.
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