Boy who murdered Sussex man is named and given life sentence
A boy drug dealer who murdered 'caring and kind-hearted' Sussex man last year has been jailed for life.
At his sentencing this afternoon at Hove Crown Court, Judge Jeremy Gold QC lifted the ban on naming the boy.
He can now be identified as 17-year-old Kai Gasson, of Atkinson Road in Maidenbower.
He was convicted earlier today of the murder of Arnold Potter and possession of a knife by majority verdict. He also pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply.
His heartbroken family praised him and vowed to pursue his love of herbal tea in his memory.
Claim of self-defence rejected by the jury
Arnold tragically died after an altercation between him and Gasson on November 15, last year.
Throughout the trial Gasson denied both charges, but accepted that he was responsible for Arnold's death.
However prosecutor Rowan Jenkins argued that the incident was a 'deliberate attack with a lethal weapon'.
Returning their verdict after more than 12 hours of deliberations, jurors convicted Gasson of murder.
Defence barrister: Gasson is 'deeply sorry' for what happened to Arnold
Defence barrister Michael Ivers QC told the court that the history between Arnold and Gasson was not 'peppered with any kind of difficulty'.
He continued: "The reality is that the defendant did not set out to cause harm that night to Mr Potter, or to anybody else.
"The defendant came under an attack. What developed, developed quickly in that street over a very short period of time.
"He is deeply sorry for what has happened. If he could turn the clock back he would in an instant."
Judge sentences Gasson to life imprisonment
Sentencing Gasson, Judge Gold said: "Arnold Potter began the incident with an intention to rob you and I accept that that is the background.
"You inflicted two deep stab wounds to his abdomen with a knife that you had in your possession. Either of these two wounds would have been fatal.
"You stabbed him once in Atkinson Road and you chased him down into Watson Close knowing that he is already wounded and tabbed him a second time."
Judge Gold accepted that there was no pre-meditation and took into account Gasson's young age.
Gasson was given a life sentence with a minimum term of 15 years, less 149 days of time already served.
Because he is under 18 he will be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure for life. After 15 years (less time served) he will be eligible for parole.
Arnold's mum: 'My grief for Arnold is not fading'
In a statement read out in court today, Arnold’s mum Rebecca Potter said: “My life will never be the same.
“My grief for Arnold is not fading.
“This is a tragedy that should not have happened. He was maturing into a strong, confident young man.
“I light a candle every day for Arnold.”
'Please educate your children about knife crime'
In a family statement after the sentencing, Arnold’s family said: “Arnold was loved by so many and had his whole life ahead of him but taken way too soon. We will all miss him so much.
“Arnold had an interest in the medical benefits of herbal tea – something we are keen to pursue in the memory of Arnold.
“Arnold’s life was tragically taken because of knife crime. Arnold wanted to live a long life, which has been taken from him.
“Please educate your children about knife crime, as it impacts every member of your family.
“Life goes on, but life will never be the same again for us.
“As a family, we love you and your memory will live on. Thank you for the feathers. RIP Arnold.”
Anonymity restrictions lifted allowing defendant to be named publicly
Following an application by two press organisations - including this newspaper - Judge Gold agreed to lift the anonymity restrictions in respect of Gasson.
Defendants under 18 have automatic anonymity by law, and that anonymity is only lifted in specific circumstances.
Judge Gold said: "There is a public interest in matters of this kind being properly and fully reported so that the public who may be concerned about what is happening in the country generally, or in the particular area of where they live may have a legitimate interest in naming of the defendant who has been convicted of a crime such as this.
"Of course there is significant public concern about knife crime and about knives being routinely carried by youngsters in the street and being used in the context of drug use and drugs transactions.
"It seems to me this is an appropriate case for the lifting of the section 45 order in relation to Kai Gasson. I therefore make an exception order accordingly."
DCI Richardson speaks about the investigation
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Richardson, who led the investigation, said: "Knife crime hasn’t just affected the two individuals involved, it has also affected their families, friends and the wider community and my thoughts our especially with Arnold’s family at this time.
"The key element to this tragic incident is the possession of a knife in a public place, which is an extremely serious offence.
"The devastation caused by knife crime is well documented, and Sussex Police – like every other force in the UK – will not tolerate it.
"We must continue to educate people – particularly young people – that carrying offensive weapons in public is a serious offence which ruins lives. It is a common misconception that some people feel safer in possession with a knife. This cannot be further from the truth, carrying a knife makes you far more likely to be involved in a crime, whether you are the victim or the offender.
"Our message is simple: lose the knife, not your life."