THE devastating impact of a nationwide epidemic is revealed today as figures show serious knife crime in the North-East has more than doubled in just five years.

This year, at least 100 people in the UK have died as a result of knife attacks, with the number of fatal stabbings in 2017/18 the highest since records began.

Middlesbrough man John Lewis, who died earlier this month was the 100th victim, while at least 14 North-East families have been robbed of their loved ones to knife crime since the beginning of 2018.

Last year, blades also played a part in more than a dozen attempted murders, about a thousand assaults, rapes, sex attacks and almost a quarter of all robberies.

A Northern Echo investigation found that the North-East was one of just two regions that saw a slight drop in serious knife crime in 2018 – but figures for North Yorkshire and Northumberland are at a ten-year high.

In all, knives or sharp implements were used in at least 1,503 serious crimes between January and December last year, up from 684 in 2013/14.

Amid fears that many more incidents go unreported as an increasing number of lives are changed forever, campaigners called on the Government to send the region more funding to tackle the issue.

Echo analysis of 2,259 crime outcomes recorded by North-East forces since 2016 found that almost a third of offences – 706 cases - relating to the ‘possession of an article with a blade or point’ were dropped, mainly due to evidential difficulties.

During that time, just over half of the cases – 1285 - ended in a charge or summons, while 194 cautions were issued, 101 of which went to youths. A further 74 cases were resolved with an out of court disposal.

Earlier this month, a 12-year-old was arrested after Joseph Mahgagahbow, 13, was brutally slashed and left with horrifying injuries following a “schoolboy barney”.

The Northern Echo:

Joseph Mahgagahbow suffered horrific injuries during the Thornaby attack

His family have echoed the sentiments of a murdered Teesside teen’s loved ones in calling for more to be done to raise awareness of consequences in the hope of tackling knife crime before it devastates future generations.

Following the fatal 2003 stabbing of her son, 17-year-old Christopher Cave, Redcar woman Theresa Cave has campaigned tirelessly for change and believes education, community work and stronger deterrents could make a difference.

She says parents, schools and politicians have a vital role to play and thinks early intervention is key in cleaning up communities where knife-carrying is becoming more commonplace.

The Northern Echo:

Chris Cave was murdered in 2003

Ms Cave said: “Knife crime is an epidemic and if we want to stop it going wild in this area, we have to move more into prevention and get to children earlier.

“We know there are seven to ten-year-olds carrying knives and teaching them about the consequences is key to tackling this issue.

“We need parents to be educated and to take responsibility for their children’s behaviour and we need the Government to listen and send funding here.

“There are no real deterrents and kids these days are frightened of nothing - it’s time for a fresh approach.”

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill, who recently led a knife crime debate in Parliament, said tougher sentences would only be an effective deterrent if accompanied by a boost in police resources.

He said the effects of policing cuts were “obvious and visible” in parts of the region, adding: “The Government cannot expect forces to maintain the same or higher level, of policing with far fewer resources than they previously had.”

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police, which has installed a knife surrender bin at Middlesbrough police station, added: “Quite simply, one death from a knife incident is one death too many and we will continue to work tirelessly to eradicate knife crime and keep people safe.”

Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said the force was committed to early intervention and prevention work while a Durham Constabulary spokeswoman said the area remained a safe place to live.

She said there was no place for knife crime on the streets and that officers would do everything in their power to bring offenders to justice, adding: “Carrying knives or other weapons does not keep you safe.

“By carrying a knife you are putting yourself in much greater danger and are more likely to become involved in a violent situation, potentially getting injured yourself.”


The Northern Echo:

16 April 2018: Steven Willis, Normanby

A family funeral resulted in further tragedy when a violent confrontation between relatives ended with the death of Steven Willis, also known as Steven Pickering. The 27-year-old – described by loved ones as a “gentleman” and a “shining star” - was stabbed in the heart and died in the street after going to the aid of his father, who was also knifed as the assault unfolded. Mr Willis’ half-brother Lennon was also attacked. Their cousin, Kieran Ibitson was later found guilty of murder. Mark Pickering and Dominic Pickering were found guilty of manslaughter.

The Northern Echo:

22 July 2018: Craig Barker, Stockton

Much-loved father Craig Barker – also known as Craig Slater – died two days after being brutally assaulted in his Stockton home. Armed with two axes, Nathan Davis burst into the much-loved father’s home and launched a murderous attack that also saw Mr Barker’s dog killed. There were ten people, including five children, in the property at the time. An outpouring of grief from across the community followed the popular car-wash worker’s death. Career criminal Davis was jailed for 28 years following a manhunt.

The Northern Echo:

3 August 2018: Kelly Franklin, Hartlepool

A close-knit neighbourhood was rocked by the murder of mother-of-three Kelly Franklin. The popular 29-year-old was stabbed more than 30 times by her abusive ex-partner Torbjorn Kettlewell in a street attack that took place just yards from a children’s playground. Lovers Kettlewell and Julie Wass were eventually jailed over the killing.

The Northern Echo:

1 September 2018: Ryan Nathan Thompson, Sacriston

Joiner Ryan Nathan Thompson, 25, died from a single stab wound to the chest after being stabbed during a confrontation with his former schoolmate Richard Lee in a back lane in Sacriston. Lee was jailed for life over the killing.

The Northern Echo:

5 September 2018: Joan Hoggett, Sunderland

Beloved grandmother Joan Hoggett was knifed more than 20 times by paranoid schizophrenic Ethan Mountain while stacking shelves at a One Stop shop in Fulwell, Sunderland. A murder charge against the 19-year-old was dropped and Mountain pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The aftermath of the trial saw the 62-year-old’s heartbroken family urge people not to carry knives as they encouraged those with mental health problems to seek help.

The Northern Echo:

29 September 2018: Peter Gilling, Billingham

Peter Gilling’s grieving relatives highlighted the escalating issue of knife crime as they addressed reporters outside court following the trial of his killer, Derek Pallas. Drug dealer Pallas murdered Mr Gillan outside of the Melsonby Court block of flats in Billingham following a dispute. The 39-year-old was stabbed five times and suffered wounds including a severed femoral artery. A statement from Mr Gilling’s loved ones paid tribute to him as it highlighted the devastating impact of the attack. It said: “Knife crime has escalated massively this past year. No-one should feel they need to protect themselves or their children against knife crime…”

The Northern Echo:

18 October 2018: Atakan Atay, Gateshead

Helena Karine Atay was cleared of murdering her husband but found guilty of manslaughter after she stabbed shop owner Atakan Atay during a confrontation at their Birtley home. She claimed she had been the victim of an abusive relationship. Mr Atay, 45, was described as a “doting father” to his two children and “the apple” of his family. A statement from his family said: “We are all going to carry the pain of that knife in our hearts all through our lives.”

The Northern Echo:

8 January 2019: Gavin Moon, Washington

‘Devoted dad’ Gavin Moon was stabbed in his Washington flat. Two people, Sunderland 47-year-old Brian Goldsmith and Washington man Luc Barker, 28, were charged with his murder. A trial is expected to begin at Newcastle Crown Court in June.

The Northern Echo:

24 February 2019: Connor Brown, Sunderland

Popular teen boxer Connor Brown was fatally stabbed behind The Borough pub in Sunderland. The 18-year-old student’s death left the community reeling and inspired tributes from his former schoolmate, England footballer and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, among others. Ally Gordon, 19, and Leighton Barrass, 20, now face trial over the killing.

The Northern Echo:

20 March 2019: Alison McKenzie, Middlesbrough

Glasgow mother Alison McKenzie was found dead inside a Berwick Hills flat. The 55-year-old’s son, Ian McKenzie, was charged with murder and remanded to appear at Teesside Crown Court. The case is on-going.

The Northern Echo:

30 March 2019: Damian Banks, Durham

Damian Banks died in hospital after being found with stab wounds to his chest at a Durham property. The 34-year-old’s brother, Vincent Bell, was arrested and charged with his murder. The case is on-going.

The Northern Echo:

31 March 2019: Paul Taylor, Jarrow

Paul Taylor, 45, was found dead at a property in Jarrow from "injuries consistent with stabbing". Nicola Lee, 44, has pleaded not guilty to his murder and will face trial.

The Northern Echo:

8 April 2019: Odessa Carey, Northumberland

Pensioner Odessa Carey was found injured in her own home. The 73-year-old’s daughter – who shares the same name – was charged with her murder and is expected to stand trial at Newcastle Crown Court in October.

The Northern Echo:

14 May 2019: John Lewis, Middlesbrough

Much-loved father John Lewis was identified as the 100th person to die from knife crime in the UK this year. The 32-year-old was stabbed in an incident that unfolded around Middlesbrough’s Crescent Road. Jonathan Porritt, 28, has since appeared at Teesside Crown Court in connection with the killing.

Read more:

Heartbreaking poem for John Lewis


The Northern Echo:

After her 13-year-old son, Joseph, was slashed following a 'schoolboy barney' in Thornaby, Jayne Muhgagahbow was horrified to hear a 12-year-old had been arrested in connection with the incident.

She said: "I always used to worry about Joseph turning 18 and going out with his friends, you hear about decent lads going out and getting stabbed and killed - I never thought it would happen when he was 13

“You’d never expect a schoolboy barney to turn into something like this.

“It’s had a huge impact on the community, everyone is horrified and disgusted.

“The problem is that some people just don’t care, if they did, they wouldn’t be taking knives out in the first place.

“It’s about a lack of discipline and respect for others and low sentences give the wrong message - there has to be serious consequences.

“It comes as no surprise to me that knife crime is up here, but the MPs must open their eyes and see there is a major problem."