Callum Edwards, 18, from Tottenham, appeared at Winchester Crown Court today where he was jailed for eight years after being found guilty of grievous bodily harm with intent for his part in the attack on March 30, 2017
A teenage Premier League hopeful who was recruited into a ‘county lines’ drugs gang and carried out a daylight knife attack has been jailed for eight years.
Callum Edwards, 18, was targeted by a north London criminal gang because of his ‘clean skin’ which meant he could operate without attracting police attention.
A court heard the teenager had been scouted by three different elite football clubs while at school but turned to a life of crime after finishing his education.
Instead of pursuing his sporting ambitions, he became a ‘runner’ for the gang, travelling more than 80 miles from the capital to sell Class A drugs to dozens of clients in Hampshire.
Winchester Crown Court heard that on one of their day trips he and fellow gang member Che Yethman-Spaine, 20, attacked 44-year-old Jamie Royall in Southampton on March 30, 2017.
It was heard the pair wrongly believed Mr Royall had stolen drugs from them and launched an ‘unprovoked’ knife attack.
When they saw him in Watts Park, Edwards approached him and slashed him with a knife across the back of his left hand – which Mr Royall was using to protect himself.
Yethman-Spaine attacked him from the side while he was defending himself, and stabbed him in the side of his neck before running off.
Winchester Crown Court heard that Che Yethman-Spaine (left), 20, was also involved in the attack and stabbed Royall in the side of his neck before running off. Last month another man was jailed for running the heroin and crack cocaine operation which resulted in the near-fatal stabbing. Miron Ramadani (right), 20, was jailed for six years
Last month another man was jailed for running the heroin and crack cocaine operation which resulted in the near-fatal stabbing. Miron Ramadani, 20, was jailed for six years.
Jodie Mittell, prosecuting, said today the gang was part of a ‘county lines’ network, in which drugs are exported from large cities to smaller areas.
The system involves a centralised mobile phone number, usually linked to London-based gangs, which people use to order illegal drugs.
The scheme has become synonymous with child exploitation, with teenagers often used to carry out the exchanges.
Miss Mittell told the court Ramadani and the two runners made at least 11 day trips from Tottenham, London, to Southampton during March 2017, selling drugs to more than 50 clients on each visit.
She added: ‘Edwards and Yethman-Spaine were runners in the drug network while Ramadani would organise the deals by sending text messages from the safety of his car.
‘The attack on Mr Royall was unprovoked – the two young men both were carrying knives and attacked him in broad daylight.’
In a previous hearing it was heard Mr Royall was saved by a nurse who happened to be passing.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Royall said since the attack he has had headaches that feel like ‘constant migraines’ – as the stab to his neck severed a vein.
Edwards was convicted of wounding with intent after a trial and admitted conspiring to supply heroin and cocaine, possession of ammunition, possession of a knife, and possession of criminal property.
Yethman-Spaine was convicted of attempted murder and admitted possession of a knife and conspiracy to supply cocaine and heroin.
Edwards and Che Yethman-Spaine attacked 44-year-old Jamie Royall in Watts Park (pictured), Southampton on March 30, 2017
Mitigating, Edel Speirits told the court that Edwards, who was 17 at the time of the attack, had been scouted by three different Premier League football clubs while he was at school.
She added: ‘This young man made a change overnight.
‘He used to train three times a week and played matches every weekend, and was being scouted by different Premier League football teams during his time at school.
‘After he left education he took a turn to crime.
‘The county line drug gang targeted this young man because he has ‘clean skin’ and would not be identified by the police.
‘He also is not very bright and is in the lowest IQ bracket in the country – in the bottom seven per cent.
‘He was just following orders from the people above him in the drug line, and was doing the running to make some cash.’
Hugh D’Aguilar, mitigating for Yethman-Spaine, said: ‘The only mitigating factor for my client is his age.
‘There is no doubt if he was released from custody within the year that he would be a significant threat to the public.
‘A program that he can follow and use while he is in custody will be a way of Mr Yethman-Spaine spending his time.’
Edwards was jailed for eight years along with a further four years extended licence, while Yethman-Spaine was jailed for 14 years with an additional four years on licence.
Sentencing, Justice Juliet May said: ‘You went out of your way to pursue, confront, and attack Mr Royall.
‘Your only mitigating factors are your ages, but it is clear you are both a risk to the public.
‘You went to the scene armed with a knife and both of you intended on causing serious harm to Mr Royall.
‘Although you were only runners in the county lines drug operation, you actively went to do deals regularly, and I have no doubt you were both paid for your work regularly.’