Teenager convicted of murdering boy in car park after killer’s mother calls 999

Joshua Delbono stabbed 16-year-old Charley Bates multiple times in Radstock, Somerset last July

Andy Gregory
Tuesday 11 April 2023 19:24 BST
‘My son’s killed someone’: Mother’s 999 call after Joshua Delbono murdered teenager

A teenager has been sentenced to life in prison after “senselessly” murdering a 16-year-old boy in a Somerset town car park.

Police released an audio recording after Joshua Delbono was sentenced on Tuesday, in which his mother can be heard callling 999 hours after the murder and telling them: “My son’s killed someone.”

The 19-year-old’s mother told the call-handler she felt “sick” at what had happened and was keeping her son at the address from which she made the call in Frome last July.

Joshua Delbono was 18 years old when he murdered Charley Bates
Joshua Delbono was 18 years old when he murdered Charley Bates (Avon & Somerset Police)

Delbono was found unanimously guilty by a jury at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday for the murder of 16-year-old Charley Bates, who he stabbed multiple times in an altercation at a public car park in Radstock town centre just before 7pm on Sunday 31 July.

Sentencing him to a minimum of 21 years without parole, Judge William Hart said that what had started out as a normal fist fight ended with a “young boy with his whole life ahead” lying dead on the ground – and accused Delbono of fleeing the scene instead of trying to help Charley as he lay on the ground dying.

In victim impact statements, Charley’s mother said she couldn’t breathe with grief after her “boy was stolen from me in a senseless violent act” and thanked his friends for trying to save his life, as his father added: “Hundreds of hearts were broken that day.”

The court was told that two cars had arrived in the car park – one of which was carrying Delbono – at about 6.40pm.

Charley is said to have approached the other car and a confrontation has occurred involving him and the people who were in that vehicle, Avon and Somerset Police said.

Charley Bates’s death has broken hundreds of hearts, his father said
Charley Bates’s death has broken hundreds of hearts, his father said (Avon and Somerset Police handout)

Delbono saw what was happening and, after getting out the car he was in, went up to the group and stabbed Charley multiple times with a knife he brought to the scene, according to the force. The incident lasted less than five minutes.

Paramedics were unable to save Charley’s life and he was pronounced dead at 7.15pm.

A pathologist told the court that the teenager sustained a stab wound to his chest, plus a wound to his arm which was consistent with him trying to defend himself.

Delbono quickly left the scene after stabbing Charley and travelled about half an hour away to Shearwater Lake where he burned clothes he had been wearing, according to police.

Police received the call from Delbono’s mother approximately six hours after Charley was stabbed, at 12:45am the following morning.

Delbono was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday
Delbono was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday (PA)

She passed the phone to Delbono, who admitted to stabbing Charley, claiming he was trying to protect others. Delbono falsely claimed that he had thrown the knife away at the scene and it may have ended up under a car, however conceded during the trial that he had thrown it into Shearwater Lake.

He was arrested on suspicion of murder a short time later.

The judge told Delbono on Tuesday: “You took the knife from the car intending to use it as you did, not to warn people off”, as he said in a message to others thinking of carrying knives: “You may rob a person of their life. What happened that day cast a horrible shadow over everyone.”

DCI Mark Almond said: “Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Charley’s family who have experienced unimaginable pain over the past nine months. They continue to grieve for Charley and we are offering them support through our specially-trained officers.

“Charley had his whole life ahead of him and it was cut short by Joshua Delbono. The vigil held in his memory in Radstock in the days after this senseless tragedy highlights how his death affected the community and how popular a person he was.

“Such incidents are thankfully rare in Radstock, but the devastating consequences knife crime has on families and communities is clear for all to see and it is why we are committed to work with our partners to do all that we can to prevent more tragedies like this from happening.”

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