‘Zombie knife’ attacker who walked free from court could have sentence reviewed

Joshua Gardner, then 17, was caught on camera launching a frenzied attack on a car in a busy London street 

Cyclist pulls out 'zombie knife' and attempts to smash a car window

A teenager filmed attacking a car with a large “zombie knife” in a London street could have his sentence reviewed after a judge let him walk free from court.

Joshua Gardner, 18, was given three prison sentences for attempted grievous bodily harm - two years' imprisonment, affray and possessing an offensive weapon at the Old Bailey on Tuesday.

But the punishment was suspended for two years, meaning he will not go to jail if he does not commit further offences or break his licence conditions.

The “ridiculous” sentence provoked disbelief among some commentators, with police officers taking to social media to voice their concern that the case would not act as a deterrent.

Superintendent Roy Smith, of the Metropolitan Police, wrote: “My personal thoughts are that this sentence does not provide any form of deterrence. Nor does it lead frontline officers to feel that they are being fully supported by the rest of the judicial system.”

The attorney general’s office said it had received a request to review Gardner’s punishment under the unduly lenient sentence scheme.

“Only one request is required for us to review whether a sentence given was too low,” a spokesperson added. “We have 28 days from the date of sentencing to assess whether a case is covered by the scheme and decide whether it is unduly lenient, and as such eligible for referral to the Court of Appeal.”

The scheme lets anyone, even those not involved in the case, ask for Crown Court sentences for particular offences to be reviewed if they believe it is too low.

Joshua Gardner, 18, was jailed for two years but the sentence was suspended

Gardner launched his attack during afternoon rush hour on 30 May, when he was 17.

The court heard that a 19-year old man was sat in his car in stationary traffic in London Road, Croydon, when Gardener pulled up alongside him on a bicycle.

Upon seeing Gardner the man tried to pull away, almost hit the bike and crashed into an oncoming car and van.

“This led to Gardner abandoning his push bike and running towards the man’s car, producing a large ‘zombie’ style knife which he had taken from the right hand side of his trouser waistband,” Scotland Yard said.

“Gardner then hit the rear driver’s side door of the car with the knife repeatedly. Gardner attempted to gain access to the car by pulling at the rear driver’s side door and then went round to the nearside of the vehicle.

“He continued to aim kicks and knife blows at the car, hitting the front passenger window with the blade, smashing it, and causing the man to exit his vehicle in a panic and flee down the road.”

The incident was witnessed by several members of the public, with Gardner's outburst of violence caught on the dash-cam footage of a vehicle that was travelling in the opposite direction.

The footage was circulated widely on social media, amid heightened public concern over record levels of knife crime in England and Wales, and Gardner was recognised and arrested by police.

Judge Anuja Dhir QC gave him two years imprisonment for attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent, and 12 months for affray and 12 months for possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.

She said the sentences, to run concurrently, would be suspended for two years after hearing that Gardner carried the knife because he had previously been kidnapped.

The court was told that the teenager was held for 10 days in March after being bundled into a car and threatened with a gun because of a friend’s drug debt.

Gardner was forced to work in a “trap house” and sell drugs by the gang.

He was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work, and will be subject to a curfew for nine months.

Detective Constable Aaron Champion, the investigating officer from Croydon CID, said: “The footage that was circulated widely in the media, which showed Gardner waving around a 'zombie' style knife understandably shocked both the communities of Croydon and the wider public.

“He had decided that day for whatever reason that he would attack this man and brazenly pulled out this knife in front of horrified members of the public, some of whom had finished work or had collected their children from school.

“His conviction and sentence send out the message that the police will not tolerate the mind-set Gardner seems to have adopted - that the casual use of a knife is justified to settle even minor differences.”

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