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Judge bans schoolboys found guilty of Whitgift Centre stabbings from holding knives in restaurants without adult supervision, warns they face 'substantial' custodial sentences


A JUDGE has imposed extensive bail conditions on two schoolboy brothers convicted of a double stabbing - including banning them from holding a knife at a restaurant without adult supervision.

The boys, aged 14 and 15, were today found guilty of stabbing two teenagers in an unprovoked attack in Croydon's Whitgift shopping centre in January this year.

Recorder Judge Kenneth Hamer told the brothers the offences were "one notch below murder" and they would likely receive "substantial" custodial sentences.

He adjourned proceedings at Croydon Crown Court for a pre-sentence report to be drawn up, but not before deliberating extensively on whether or not to remand the brothers, who cannot be named because of their ages, into custody until they are sentenced.

The only reason he decided not to, the judge explained, was because of his concern that it would impact on their education, particularly as the older brother is due to take his GCSE mock exams in the next fortnight.

Instead he drew up an exhaustive list of bail conditions and warned them they would be immediately placed into custody if any were breached.

The brothers were given a nightly 7.30pm to 7am curfew enforced with an electronic tag, banned from all forms of social media and barred from entering Croydon town centre except to travel through by bus to get to school or to comply with the Youth Offending Team's assessment.

They also have to report to Croydon Police Station, in Park Lane, twice a week and were barred from carrying a knife or bladed implement in public - including while eating at a restaurant or café without the supervision of an adult.

They must also live at their father's house in Croydon and were ordered not to contact any witnesses in the case. 

Judge Hamer even wanted to include measures to compel the parents to ensure their son's complied, but was told he did not have the power. 

He told the brothers: "I'm going to grant you bail so you can continue with your current schooling, but these are serious and heavy conditions.

"If they are breached in any way at all then you will be brought back and you will be put into custody."

Earlier a jury had taken little more than three hours to unanimously find them both guilty of two counts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and one of violent disorder.

They were part of a group of five youths who, armed with knives, attacked Glodi Mobwano, then 17, and his 16-year-old friend, at the shopping centre in Croydon town centre shortly after 6pm on January 14.

Glodi, now 18, suffered a punctured kidney after being stabbed in the back and his friend was slashed across the face and knifed in the arm.

The brothers, who lived with their mother in New Addington at the time of the attack, were convicted under the controversial joint enterprise law, allowing them to be charged even though it could not be shown they were the ones who stabbed the two boys. It was the prosecution's case that they were both, along with three others who have not been caught, "in it together".

The Advertiser can reveal, following the attack, police found a knife in the bedroom the brothers share. The jury were not told about the weapon because it could not be linked to the incident.

What the prosecution were able to establish was the defendants, who attend a school for children with behavioural problems, were part of a group who approached Glodi and another friend outside sports nutritionists GNC, which is on the second level of the Whitgift Centre.

They asked them "Got a problem?" before showing the two boys they all had knives. When they were told to go away, one of the group launched forward and punched Glodi's friend in the face.

A second friend, 16, who cannot be named for legal reasons, came out of GNC and was confronted by a small youth wearing a baseball cap, who slashed him across the face with a knife.

He described another boy running at him shouting something along the lines of "That's my brother" and then he was stabbed in his upper left arm.

Meanwhile Glodi felt what he thought was a punch in the back. He turned and saw a youth running off along with the other members of the gang.

Initially he was only concerned for his friend's wellbeing, but described to the court that his back began to feel wet. He put his hand underneath his t-shirt and found it was covered in blood.

He collapsed on the floor and was given first aid by a GP who happened to be passing by. Both boys, who gave evidence in court behind a screen, were taken to hospital where doctors found Glodi had suffered a punctured kidney.

CCTV footage picked up the brothers and three other boys running onto a bus outside the Whitgift Centre. A passenger overheard them speaking about the fight and later contacted the police. He subsequently picked both defendants out of an identity parade.

They were arrested on January 23 and, when police searched their bedroom, they found two caps fitting descriptions given by the two victims of their attackers. Video footage also showed the group on the bus wearing similar hats.

The brothers were interviewed by police but offered no comment to all questions. They also chose not to give evidence during the trial.

Giles Newell and John-Paul MacNamara, representing the older and younger defendants respectively, argued that, while their clients may have been among the group, neither victim had been able to identify them as the attackers.

Mr Newell accused Glodi of "exaggerating" that all the youths had knives while Mr MacNamara claimed his memory must have been "playing tricks" on him. As to why they had heard someone shout "brother", the barristers pointed out that any of the group could have been related and the word had several meanings.

Sitting beside their mother, and wearing shirts and ties, the brothers showed no emotion as the foreman of the jury read out the guilty verdicts. At one point their mother shook her head and put her hand on her youngest son's shoulder.

The court was then told the older brother, who will turn 16 next month, had two previous convictions for possession of cannabis and one of fraud.

When he was 12 he was given a reprimand by British Transport Police (BTP) for attempted robbery during which he pretended to have a knife while mugging a student.

His younger brother was convicted of battery in July 2013 and is awaiting sentence after being found guilty of intimidating a witness in another case via threatening Facebook messages, an offence committed while on bail for the stabbings.

Simon Sandford, prosecuting, told the court an application had been made to give both brothers Asbos which, if granted, will ban them from the Whitgift Centre and from fraternising with various named people.

He said: "It is the prosecution's case that they are gang members and these are other people with whom they commit offences of violence."

Judge Hamer said, due to the seriousness of the stabbings, it was "almost inevitable" that he would make use of additional powers to impose custodial sentences beyond the normal limit given to youths. "It's likely to be substantial," he added.

All matters, including sentencing and the Asbo application, were adjourned until December 23. 

Judge bans schoolboys found guilty of Whitgift Centre stabbings from holding knives in restaurants without adult supervision, warns they face 'substantial' custodial sentences

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