A teenager has been found guilty of murder after stabbing an 18-year-old man in Bath city centre earlier this year.
Ben Moncrieff was killed by a 15-year-old boy when stabbed once to the chest in Southgate Street at about 3.30am on Saturday 6 May. Ben died of his injuries at the scene, despite efforts of people in the area and medics to save his life.
Ben’s mother Sharon Hendry paid tribute to her son and said he was loved by everyone who knew him. She said his death had caused ‘total devastation’.
Ben had been with friends in Bath on a night out in the hours leading up to the fatal incident.
Having left a club, they walked towards McDonald’s in Southgate Street and encountered a group of males, including the defendant, who were in possession of balloons and suspected nitrous oxide gas cannisters. That group had arrived in a car shortly beforehand.
CCTV showed a verbal confrontation between the defendant and one of Ben’s friends. Jurors were told that Ben stepped in at that point to protect his friend, and a witness heard the defendant tell Ben to ‘come around the corner’.
The defendant, who is from south London, is seen in footage to take a step back and drop a gas canister as Ben approaches him, before pulling out the weapon and stabbing the 18-year-old to death.
He fled the scene and dumped the knife in a bin nearby, which was recovered by officers. He was arrested a short time later and made no comment during police interviews.
A murder investigation was launched and hours of footage were trawled through by detectives.
One CCTV camera showed the defendant lift up his top before the stabbing and reveal to people he had a bladed weapon tucked into his waistband.
During his evidence in court, the teenager stated he had taken the knife off of a boy of a similar age early in the day to protect them. However, the prosecution presented the jury with social media videos of the defendant playing with a matching knife that had been recorded earlier that same week. The teenager told the court it was a different knife that happened to look identical.
The defendant, who is now 16 but cannot be publicly named as he is a juvenile as per the law, was found guilty of murder by a jury at Bristol Crown Court after a six-day trial. He had previously pleaded guilty to possession of a bladed article in a public place.
He has been remanded for sentencing on Wednesday 6 December.
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Mark Newbury said: “Our thoughts are with Ben’s loved ones who we continue to support as they grieve for a much-loved son and friend. At 18 years old Ben had his whole life ahead of him, but it was snatched away.
“The outpouring of support Ben’s family have received from his friends is a testament to how popular a young man he was.
“Tragically, Ben happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He didn’t know the defendant and was entirely blameless. He was bravely standing up for a friend when the defendant made a conscious decision to pull out a knife and attack Ben knowing it would gravely injure him at the very least.
“We believe the defendant sought to attempt to glorify knife crime by posing in social media videos in the days leading up to Ben’s death and also showing off he was carrying one in the minutes before he killed Ben.”
DI Newbury continued: “We want to reassure people a lot of work continues to go into tackling knife crime in Bath, ranging from high-visibility patrols to educating people of the risks attached to carry a bladed weapon.
“Every person who decides to carry a knife puts themselves and others at a much greater risk, as tragedies such as this make sadly all too clear.
“If you know someone who may be carrying a knife, please contact the police or depending on the situation a suitable professional, such as a teacher or youth worker, so we can work with partners to tackle this devastating crime. Preventing any other family going through what Ben’s has had to endure, and continues to endure, is a priority for us.”