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Gang member gets 17 years for murdering teenage cadet

A teenage gang member who knifed a 16-year-old army cadet through the heart was sentenced to a minimum of 17 years behind bars today.

James Moore, 17, was one of 10 young men who set upon Joseph Lappin and two friends as they visited a youth club in Liverpool in October 2008.

Moore, who pleaded guilty to the murder, and the other gang members, who admitted conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm, were being sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court.

Joseph, from Old Swan, Liverpool, was visiting the Shrewsbury House Youth Club in the Everton area of the city when he was unwittingly caught up in local gang rivalry.

The teenager, a member of the Liverpool Scottish Regiment, and his friends Callum Naden and Greg Harold, then both 17, were attending a band practice session and had never been to the Church of England-run youth club before.

All three were totally unsuspecting of the simmering feud which was taking place between two local gangs, the court heard.

As the boys stood outside the club, they were confronted by the defendants who had gone to Langrove Street looking for revenge following a fight between their gang and rivals earlier that day.

The 10-strong mob, who had their faces covered and were armed with weapons including batons, sticks and bottles as well as Moore's 4-inch (10cm) blade, attacked the boys even though they knew they were not the youths they were looking for.

The pack chased the three boys around the youth club building until they returned to the front doors and tried to get inside to safety.

But the doors were locked and the three boys were cornered as Moore, then aged 16, launched his frenzied attack and knifed Joseph through the heart and then Callum in the chest and leg.

Callum survived the attack but Joseph was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

It emerged yesterday that Moore was known to police and the courts long before Joseph was attacked and killed.

In 2007, he was given an Asbo for terrorising his neighbours and local businesses but, the court was told, he breached it many times in the months leading up to the stabbing.

Moore, of Silvester Street, Vauxhall, Liverpool, also flouted referral orders and supervision orders imposed by the courts to punish him and rein him in.

But it was not until he was charged with Joseph's murder that he finally went to prison.

Mr Justice Henriques said: "Joseph Lappin, Callum Naden and Greg Harold went to Shrewsbury House to listen to their friends practise and play in a band.

"These three were decent, law-abiding young men.

"Joseph Lappin was a model son with a loving family. He was very popular, with many interests including sport and music.

"He was a kind and thoughtful son who any family would be proud of."

Moore showed no emotion as he was jailed at Her Majesty's Pleasure and told he would not be able to apply for parole for at least 17 years.

There was no separate sentence for the stabbing of Callum.

The judge said: "Callum had to watch his best friend bleed to death.

"Now he does not sleep, he has failed his AS-levels and has had to have counselling.

"It is truly shocking, even for those of us who attend court on a daily basis, that three such decent teenagers could be exposed to a pursuit, a chase and death."

Joseph's parents, John and Toni, who sat in the public gallery for each of the court hearings, sobbed as Moore was sent down.

Callum and Greg also attended the hearing with their parents.