Five teenagers involved in a confrontation in which their friend Gordon Gault suffered a fatal stab wound have escaped immediate custodial sentences.

The only one of the six defendants before Newcastle Crown Court for affray to receive an immediate term of custody today (Friday March 22) was Liam Thompson, 28, who is already serving a prison sentence for unrelated matters.

Thompson, of no fixed abode, who was on licence from a previous 12-year prison sentence for wounding with intent, was the only defendant who was aged 18 or above, at the time of the incident, on Tuesday November 9, 2022.The Northern Echo: Liam ThompsonLiam Thompson (Image: Northumbria Police)

He received an immediate 27-month prison sentence.

Co-accused Jack Hardy, who suffered a 19cm slash wound to the back in the incident and Raymond Matthew, both now aged 18, each received 11-month sentences in a young offenders’ institution, suspended for two years, during which they must perform 100-hours’ unpaid work.

Hardy, of Quarry Bank Court, Elswick, Newcastle, will also have to undergo 40 rehabilitation activity days with the Probation Service, while Matthew, of Durham Street, Elswick, must take part in 50 such activity days.

The Northern Echo: Jack HardyJack Hardy (Image: Northumbria Police)

Three other defendants, all now aged 17, who cannot be identified, received youth referral orders,

All six were part of the group with 14-year-old Gordon Gault who clashed with a rival group near Elswick Park, Newcastle, that evening in a pre-arranged confrontation as part of on-going tit-for-tat threats and violence.

The court heard they were part of the Elswick or ‘North’ group, while their opponents were from nearby Benwell, referred to in court as the ‘South’ group.The Northern Echo: Raymond Matthew Raymond Matthew (Image: Northumbria Police)

Members of the Benwell group had gone to Elswick seeking retribution that evening after one of their number was attacked outside his college earlier in the day.

That attack was filmed and mockingly posted on line, angering his fellow group members, who went looking for members of the Elswick group in retaliation.

The Northern Echo:

As they were outnumbered, the Benwell group began to retreat from the park, pursued by their rivals, including Gordon, who was on the back of an electric bike, carrying a baseball bat.

He suffered a deep stab wound to the top of his right arm and was taken to hospital by his associates, but he died due to the heavy blood loss, six days later.

Carlos Neto, who wielded the fatal blow, and Lawson Natty, a friend who supplied him with the machete used in the attack, were jailed at the court earlier this month after being found guilty of Gordon’s manslaughter and the unlawful wounding of Hardy.

The pair, both then 17, but now 18, plus four co-accused, each said to be part of the Benwell group, were all cleared of the charge of murder after a two-month trial.

Neto, formerly of Newcastle, but living more recently in the Salford area of Greater Manchester, received a sentence of nine years and two months, while Natty was jailed for two years and eight months.

Passing sentence on the six Elswick group members today, Judge Edward Bindloss spoke of the background to the case.

“There was a pre-meditated, organised coming together of two armed groups.

“There were threats with weapons and movements of people on foot, bikes and a car, that ultimately led to an armed fight and a 14-year-old being wounded by a machete, the injuries of which led him to die, six days later.”The Northern Echo: Gordon GaultGordon Gault (Image: Northumbria Police)

All the Elswick group were initially charged with violent disorder, but prior to the start of their trial, last month, their pleas to affray were accepted by the prosecution.

Judge Bindloss said it was a difficult sentencing exercise, given the ages and respective roles of those involved, who all either took part in, or encouraged those carrying out acts of violence.

Speaking after the hearing, the senior investigating officer in the incident, Detective Chief Inspector Matt Steel, of Northumbria Police, said: “The truly devastating impact of violence is clear for all to see with the tragic death of Gordon and our thoughts very much continue to be with his loved ones.

“Gordon was killed after an escalating dispute culminated in violence, with two teenagers subsequently being convicted of his manslaughter and both offenders handed prison sentences.

“A group of people who admitted their part in the disorder which occurred on the evening of 9 November, 2022, have now been sentenced.”

He added: “Violence destroys lives and has absolutely no place whatsoever in our communities.

“As a force, we are absolutely committed to reducing the impact of this type of offending through a range of tactics.

“This includes targeting those who choose to carry weapons and working with our partner organisations to prevent incidents by educating people about the dangers and consequences of doing so.

“Our message to anyone who does pick up a weapon or involves themselves in violence remains very simple – think again before you do so.

"We urge people to make that choice today, not only for your sake but for your friends and your family too.”

Anyone who has information about someone carrying a weapon is encouraged to contact the police.

See more court stories from The Northern Echo by clicking here

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