Guilty of killing Harry Potter actor

Knife offender should have been arrested two months before, police admit
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The Independent Online

A convicted knife offender who stabbed the teenage actor Rob Knox should have been arrested two months before the murder took place, it was revealed yesterday.

Karl Bishop, 22, was found guilty yesterday of stabbing the 18-year-old actor and four of his friends outside the Metro Bar in Sidcup, south-east London, last May. He had armed himself with two kitchen knives and returned to the bar to confront the group after an earlier argument. But the Metropolitan Police admitted yesterday that Bishop had already been reported for an attempted knifepoint robbery two months earlier, but officers had failed to arrest him.

Bystanders said Bishop's face was "screwed up in rage" as he lashed out with the blades on 24 May last year, stabbing his victims at least 10 times in less than two minutes. Five of those blows were delivered to Rob Knox, who had begun a promising career as an actor and had only just finished filming the part of Marcus Belby in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Bishop had made death threats to Knox, of Swanley in Kent, and his friends a week earlier after the budding actor stood up to the violent thug during a previous fracas. Bishop came off worse in the fight and made the chilling prediction: "I'm going to come back next week and someone's going to die."

In an emotional trial at the Old Bailey, the jury was told how, on the night of the murder, Bishop had been refused entry to the Metro Bar and was drunkenly harassing a teenage girl in the street when he came across Knox and his friends and entered a fresh confrontation with them. Bishop, of Sidcup, was then driven home by his friends, who he lambasted with obscene text messages for not coming to his aid, before going to his mother's kitchen drawer and marching back to the bar with two knives. He told the court: "I took two because two was scarier than one and I was angry at that time."

The 22-year-old killer, who admitted he was "merry drunk", threatened Knox's younger brother, Jamie, with the knives. Alerted by a friend through his mobile phone, Knox then rushed to the aid of his brother and ended up getting stabbed. Brian Altman QC, prosecuting, said: "Unhappily, his courage and his sense of duty were to cost him his life."

The court heard how Bishop, brandishing the two knives, asked Knox and a circle of his friends, "Who's going to make my fucking day?" before launching into a vicious melee that led to Knox's murder and four of his friends being stabbed. After the brief but fatal fight was over, the court heard how Bishop begged the police to protect him from the angry crowd that had gathered around Knox's dying body. When the police led him away he winked and smiled.

A police officer testified that Bishop showed no remorse after his arrest and simply said, "Yeah, sweet" when they told him that Knox had died later that night in hospital. Bishop later complained that he was going to miss a televised boxing match.

In an emotional statement to the court, Knox's mother, Sally, who rushed to the scene after the stabbing, described seeing her son slowly dying on the pavement. "I wanted to go to him, speak to him, comfort him, hold him, but I couldn't and wasn't allowed," she said.

His father, Colin, said: "Every day since 24 May, not a day goes by where I don't cry for my son. It could be at my desk in work, on a train, watching TV or even in bed. There are nights that I lay in bed for hours not being able to get to sleep."

Since the death of her son, one of 28 teenagers murdered in London last year, Mrs Knox has become a prolific campaigner against knife crime. "We will work towards making sure he did not die in vain by continuing our work against knife crime," she said yesterday.

Bishop, who had been convicted of wounding with intent in 2005, was also found guilty on majority verdicts yesterday of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm to Charlie Grimley, 17, and Nicky Jones, 20. He was also found guilty of wounding Andrew Dormer, 17, but was cleared of wounding another friend, Tom Hopkins, 19.

He will be sentenced today.