Boy who stabbed Alfie Lewis, 15, detained for life amid knife crime ‘scourge’

Alfie Lewis was stabbed to death ‘in full view’ of pupils leaving a primary school in the Horsforth area of Leeds last November.

Katie Dickinson
Friday 21 June 2024 16:47 BST
Alfie Lewis was stabbed (Family Handout/PA)
Alfie Lewis was stabbed (Family Handout/PA) (PA Media)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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An “outwardly normal” 15-year-old boy with a “worrying interest in knives” who stabbed another teenager through the heart on the way home from school has been detained for life as a judge warned of the “scourge of knife crime” among young people.

Alfie Lewis, 15, was stabbed to death “in full view” of pupils leaving a primary school in the Horsforth area of Leeds last November.

Bardia Shojaeifard, who was 14 at the time, has been detained for life with a minimum term of 13 years after being found guilty of Alfie’s murder.

The “senseless” killing is one in a long line of fatal knife attacks involving teenagers over the past year, including Charlie Cosser, 17, who was stabbed by Yura Varybrus, 16, at a private party in Warnham, West Sussex, on July 23 2023, and  Victor Lee, who was knifed in the back and pushed into a canal in west London by Elijah Gokool-Mely, 18.

Earlier in June two 12-year-old boys were thought to have become the youngest knife murderers in the UK after being found guilty of a brutal machete attack on “loving and protective” teenager Shawn Seesahai, who was stabbed through the heart in a Wolverhampton park.

Leeds Crown Court heard that on the day of Alfie’s murder Shojaeifard took a 13cm-long kitchen knife from home with him to school, and carried it around in his trousers all day before attacking Alfie on his way home “in revenge” for an altercation a week earlier.

On Friday Shojaeifard was named publicly for the first time after a judge lifted reporting restrictions and allowed him to be identified in a bid to help in the “vitally important debate about the scourge of knife crime, among young people in particular”.

Mr Justice Cotter said people would be wondering how a young boy “from a loving and supportive family” could commit such an “extraordinary” crime “without forewarning or any warning signs save for some pictures of knives on his phone”.

“Outwardly Bardia was a normal 14-year-old boy with no interest in crime, albeit with a poor school disciplinary record,” the judge said.

The court heard he had no interest in drugs, gangs or mental health issues.

The judge said: “Put simply, many must have been and still are asking the question how it comes to pass that a young man such as this carries and uses a knife in these dreadful circumstances and wondering how far the scourge of knife crime will permeate through our youth unless more is done to prevent it.

“If a seemingly normal boy of 14 carries a knife to school and uses it on a boy in the same school year how bad have things become?”

The court heard Shojaeifard had a “worrying interest in knives” and police found several pictures on his phone of him holding them, including one where a blade had been photoshopped into his hand, and another taken on a family holiday to Iran.

Alfie’s family said they were “disappointed” at Shojaeifard’s sentence, claiming it did not reflect the seriousness of his actions.

In a statement released after hearing, they said: “Knife crime is an epidemic affecting our youth, even when they are innocent as Alfie was. Our efforts now must go on trying to influence the changes which are needed to the law to stop our babies being killed so senselessly.”

Addressing the defendant directly as she read her victim impact statement in court, Alfie’s mother Heather Lane said: “No sentence will ever be enough for what you have done. I will never, ever forgive you.”

Ms Lane sobbed as she said: “Alfie was my heart and when he was stabbed in the heart it killed me too.”

She described Alfie as her “big-hearted boy” who was known for “sorting out everyone’s problems and being the peacekeeper”.

“We laughed, danced and smiled, we loved each other for 15 years and I thought we would for the rest of my life.”

In a statement read to the court, Alfie’s older brother, Antony Lewis, said he was his “loving and caring little mate” who “never deserved what happened to him”.

Nicholas Lumley KC, defending, said the crime was “out of character” and that Shojaeifard was the son of “utterly decent, loving parents”.

During the trial, prosecutor Craig Hassall KC said Alfie had been walking down the street to meet friends at the end of the school day when the defendant attacked him.

He said witnesses recalled Alfie looking “surprised and shocked” and saying: “What are you doing?” as the incident unfolded close to St Margaret’s Primary School in Town Street, Horsforth, just before 3pm on November 7 2023.

The prosecutor said: “Alfie did not get as far as meeting any of his friends that day.

“He was approached by (the defendant), and stabbed twice – once in the chest and once in the leg.

“He collapsed and died in the road close to the primary school in full view of scores of pupils leaving school and the people who were waiting to collect them.”

Mr Hassall said a post-mortem examination found that the fatal stab injury was a 14cm deep wound to Alfie’s chest which punctured his heart.

He told the jury the defendant “then fled the scene, dropping the murder weapon in the road close to the primary school”.

The court heard all the witnesses were “consistent” in saying that Alfie was “not the aggressor” that day.

The defendant told the jury he was scared of Alfie after two incidents in the months before.

The latter of these happened on Halloween when, according to the teenager, he walked past Alfie’s house with a bag of fireworks and Alfie said to him: “Give me the bag or something worse than last time is going to happen.”

The defendant said that, when he returned to school after a half-term break, he decided to take a knife from the kitchen drawer to protect himself.

Mr Justice Cotter said he did not accept Shojaeifard’s evidence that he was “trying to scare Alfie away and swung the knife aimlessly”.

“You intended to cause him really serious harm. You carefully planned to confront Alfie to gain revenge for whatever happened on October 31,” the judge told the defendant.

The judge said: “Alfie was a much loved and loving son and nephew, a friend to many – kind and big-hearted with a love of football, something you shared, you even played together in Year 5.

“Despite his difficulties at school he had many positive qualities. He had a long life ahead of him and you took that away.”

He added: “Knives have stolen so many lives, and you and others must understand how dangerous this obsession is.

“Without your interest in knives Alfie would be here today.”

Patrick Green, CEO of anti-knife crime charity the Ben Kinsella Trust, told the PA news agency: “Going back to the case with Alfie Lewis, just because young people may not be outwardly causing concern doesn’t mean that they haven’t adopted dangerous beliefs that can bring them into situations such as this.

“That’s why educating all young people early about the dangers of knife carrying is so important.”

He also said: “As the judge said, the obsession with knives which many young people have, and add that to the fact that they’re feeling fearful, creates a recipe for disaster.”

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