A teenage killer remained silent as he was sent to begin a 32-month sentence for ‘another senseless death caused by knife crime’ on Sheffield’s streets.
Samuel Baker was just 15-years-old when he died from blood loss, a matter of minutes after being stabbed twice with his own knife during an altercation in Lowedges Road, Lowedges on May 24 this year.
His attacker, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to his manslaughter last week on the basis he stabbed Samuel in self-defence.
As he jailed the boy, now aged 16, yesterday, Mr Justice Nicklin told him: “Your case represents a story that is too often repeated in cities and towns throughout our country. Samuel Baker is dead for one simple reason. Young men, some still boys, carrying knives. Without a knife that evening the two of you may have had a fight, but that would have been it.
“Instead, what happened can never be undone. Lives have been ruined. A family mourns the loss of another child and sibling.”
Having already served over four months on remand, Samuel's killer is likely to be released by this time next year.
Prosecutor, David Brooke QC, told Sheffield Crown Court how the two boys were known to each other, and that Samuel had in fact robbed the boy at knife point for cannabis and cash at the beginning of this year.
“It's clear there was some bad feeling [between the two]," said Mr Brooke adding that the boy had ‘shown him up’ during an incident when the boy encountered Samuel while he was out with friends.
Recounting the boy's version of events, Mr Brooke said: “When Sam had seen him [on the night of the offence] he said something like: “On your own now, bad man. He claims Baker lunged at him with a knife.
"He said he took a step back, and Samuel missed him. He said he punched him in the face and Baker fell back. He lost his balance and ended up on the floor. Samuel punched the defendant and said: ‘I'm going to kill you’.”
The boy, who was 15-years-old at the time, said it was at this point that he picked up the knife.
He initially told police he had accidentally stabbed Sam when he struck him with a ‘floppy punch,’ forgetting he was still holding the knife.
The boy later admitted he intentionally stabbed Samuel twice in self-defence ‘in the heat of the moment’.
Mr Brooke told the court how the boy handed himself in the following morning, when he voluntarily visited a police station with his mother.
“He told police: ‘I didn't mean for the fight to happen, I didn't mean for Samuel to die.”
The court heard how both boys had been excluded from their respective schools, and were both dealing cannabis when the fatal altercation took place.
Samuel Baker had previously been hauled before the courts for a violent offences, and was described by Mr Brooke as a ‘young man involved with a lot of trouble'.
Mr Justice Nicklin said of Samuel’s troubled past: “His mother, Tracey, has frankly described the struggles she had as a caring parent in trying to help Samuel stay out of trouble and to get him back into education.
“Samuel kept knives. Both his mother and brother had found knives at home. Micah had thrown one that he found away, but Samuel replaced it.
“Samuel had begun to involve himself in drugs.”
He added: “Samuel may not have led a blameless life, he may have even been the aggressor that evening, but one thing is certain; he did not deserve to die.”
Speaking after the hearing, Chief Inspector Stuart Whalne confirmed that South Yorkshire Police had issued Samuel's family with a ‘notice of concern’ through which they sought to communicate they were aware he had become involved with criminal activity, and to give his family an opportunity to intervene.
The notice of concern is understood to have been sent to Samuel's family just two months before he was killed.
CI Walne said South Yorkshire Police are due to launch an internal case review into their handling of concerns raised about Samuel case later this month.
The court heard how the defendant was temporarily excluded from his school eight times, one of which was for his use of violence, before he was finally excluded last year.
Jason Pitter QC said in mitigation: “The defendant recognises that at the centre of this case is a very real and tragic loss of life of a 15-year-old...in the pre-sentence report the defendant expresses real regret and sorrow for what occurred.
“He wishes he could effectively go back in time and and make things different.”
Mr Pitter described the boy as having a ‘traumatic life,’ adding that he was also trumatised by the events that led to Samuel's death.
As he jailed Samuel's killer, he told his family: “Nothing I can say, and no sentence I can pass, will ever make up for the loss of your son and brother.
"In particular, you must not regard the sentence that I pass as the value the court puts on your son's life. Sentencing is a complicated and difficult process.”