On Monday 2nd March, after a trial lasting seven weeks, a 17 year old youth was convicted of the murder of Lewis Bagshaw, himself only 21. Nicholas Campbell QC and Katy Rafter had been instructed by the Crown Prosecution Service to present the evidence on which the jury was able to be sure of his guilt. At the outset of the trial, the Defendant, who can’t be named, had pleaded guilty to intentionally causing grievous bodily harm to Mr. Bagshaw’s father, Daniel Cutts, a couple of months before the murder. He is to be sentenced for both matters in April. Another defendant, represented by Rebecca Stevens, was acquitted of murder.
Although only 16 at the relevant times, in the spring and summer of last year, the Defendant had embarked on a career in drugs trafficking; that decision and the demands of his business lay behind these acts of violence. By March 2019 he was selling class A drugs to addicts in the Sheffield 5 area, to the north of the city centre. Because of his age, he was employing older addicts to drive him around his patch; he would pay for their insurance. The Defendant preferred to remain sitting in the back of the car, in part to avail himself of the anonymity of tinted glass.
Danny Cutts was present during, and may have been involved in, a sting in which the Defendant was deprived of crack cocaine valued to the tune of £200. This lay behind the attack on Mr. Cutts, late at night on 14th May. His skull was fractured. Although he was hospitalised, he would not name his assailants to the police, but he confided in members of his family.
His son, Lewis Bagshaw, was such a confidant. Unlike his father, Mr. Bagshaw was no addict. Although he enjoyed smoking cannabis with his friends, he spent the majority of his time with his partner, looking after their son whose first birthday was celebrated in May 2019. He was fit, attending the gym regularly. Unsurprisingly, he took exception to the Defendant’s actions, and the evidence suggested that he had begun to seek him out and to make problems for him.
On the night of the murder, Sunday 21st June, 2019, Mr. Bagshaw confronted the Defendant. Witnesses on both sides were present. The Defendant refused to leave the security of the back of the white BMW in which he was then being carried. The situation was temporarily resolved when Mr Bagshaw desisted and the BMW was driven away. The time was 7.25pm.
By 9.06pm the Defendant was being driven back to the scene of that initial confrontation. He was now the front seat passenger in a black BMW X5. This time he was armed, and he got out of the car, carrying the knife. By 9.09pm the Defendant had fatally stabbed Lewis Bagshaw and was already back in the X5, heading north.
Lewis Bagshaw had been stabbed twice in the chest. Each wound was forceful enough to cut through bone and penetrate deeply into his chest. One pierced through the heart and on through the aorta, but Prof. Lumb was to tell the jury that each wound could have caused death. Leaving a trail of blood in his wake, Mr Bagshaw sought help from houses on Piper Crescent, before collapsing outside the back door of a young couple who summoned an ambulance. He lost consciousness as they did what they could to help and to reassure him. The emergency services did all that could be done, but by 11pm he had been declared dead at the Northern General Hospital, where he had been born 21 years before.
Shortly after death had been pronounced, the X5 was abandoned, later to be destroyed by fire. Later that night, the Defendant was collected by his uncle and driven away from Sheffield. On the Tuesday he was in Skegness. He was finally arrested the next day. When interviewed under caution, he exercised his right to remain silent. He was charged with the murder and remanded into custody. When, in the light of the death of his son, Danny Cutts came forward, he was later arrested also on suspicion of that offence, but he denied that until 14th January, the first day of the trial at Sheffield Crown Court.
In the course of the extensive police investigation, several knives were recovered, but none could be implicated forensically. There was evidence to suggest it had been buried on the night of the murder, when clothing appears also to have been destroyed by fire.
Both prosecuting counsel and our instructing solicitors had the advantage of the excellent work in difficult circumstances of South Yorkshire Police’s Major Crime Team 3, under the command of Det. Chief Inspector Jude Ashmore, together with officers from the Major Crime Intelligence Team. We all had reason to be grateful for the work prior to trial, and input during it, of Lorena Veale who was instructed as Disclosure Junior.