Joshua Gardner, who originally avoided jail for swinging a zombie knife at a motorist, has today been sent to prison by appeal judges
A thug who brandished a zombie knife at a motorist in a road rage attack has finally been sent to prison after originally walking free from court.
Joshua Gardner, 18, was caught on camera brandishing the enormous blade on a busy south London road and threatening a 19-year-old driver, who got out and ran away.
But there was fury among Londoners and many police officers when he was only given a suspended sentence for the shocking attack.
Today, three appeal judges reviewed the case and decided Gardner should have been jailed. They handed him a three and a half year prison term and he will be taken into custody in the next 24 hours.
The ruling comes after widespread public outcry over his original sentence, with serving police officers having said they were ‘speechless’ at how he initially managed to avoid jail.
Ruling the original suspended sentence was ‘unduly lenient’ today, appeal judge Sir Brian Leveson: ‘One of the challenges facing society is the common-place carrying and use of knives.’
Joshua Gardner initially avoided jail for this shocking road rage attack with a zombie knife
The appeal judge continued: ‘There can never be any excuse for carrying a weapon of the type which this offender carried on this day. Purported self-defence all too frequently becomes an offence and results in fatal injuries, particularly to teenage boys, almost on a daily basis.
‘Public concern is obvious and inevitable. It falls to the court to demonstrate that such behaviour must result in substantial and effective custodial sentences.’
Gardner was originally given a suspended jail term and 150 hours of community service after claiming he was scared of being kidnapped.
It later emerged that Gardner is part of a ‘drill’ music gang, who rap about shootings and ‘slashings’ in music videos filmed in south London.
Gardner, pictured after his arrest, had a previous conviction for attempting to rob a schoolboy of his mobile and wallet at knifepoint
Gardner is said to be known to the Met Police’s gang unit and has appeared in drill videos produced by the so-called ‘GLane’ gang.
He had a previous conviction for attempting to rob a schoolboy of his mobile and wallet at knifepoint and was convicted of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent over the road rage incident.
The court heard there had been bad feeling between Gardner and the victim, Levar Gilbert, before the attack, which happened in London Road, Croydon, in May.
Mr Gilbert panicked when he spotted Gardner on a bike beside him and tried to drive away through traffic, but crashed and was left stationary in the road.
Gardner then produced the terrifying knife from his clothing and began a 40-second assault on the car, which was captured on another vehicle’s dashcam.
It showed the then 17-year-old repeatedly trying to smash the car windows, before finally succeeding and thrusting the blade in towards Mr Gilbert.
The victim was not hit and managed to get out of the car, before running away.
After his conviction it emerged Gardner was a member of the ‘GLane’ drill gang (pictured)
Judge Anuja Dhir QC (left) originally allowed Gardner to walk free. Appeal judge, Sir Brian Leveson (right today) decided the originally punishment was ‘unduly lenient’ and jailed him
Who are the G-Lane drill gang?
GLane, also known as CR7, are a gang which operate in Thornton Heath, which is near Croydon, south London.
They are thought to be named after Green Lane, a road which runs through the district.
The gang’s drill music videos have become popular among followers online.
In the videos, members often wear skull masks or bandanas over their faces.
One song is called ‘Splash Man Down’, a slang reference to someone having been stabbed.
It includes the lyrics: ‘Bro’s holding a smoke, I’m holding my knife. See them at KFC, they was never gonna see us.’
In August last year, members of a rival gang, CR0, from Croydon stabbed schoolboy Jermaine Goupall to death because they wrongly believed he was from the CR7/GLane gang.
Gardner pleaded guilty to affray and possession of an offensive weapon and was convicted by a jury of attempted GBH.
He was given a two-year sentence, suspended for two years, at the Old Bailey in November.
The case was back in court today after a reference by solicitor general, Robert Buckland QC, on the basis that the term was too soft.
Mr Buckland said Gardner had a previous conviction for attempted robbery, during which he had threatened a younger boy with a blade.
‘The judge erred in her overall assessment of the seriousness of the case,’ he argued. ‘In addition, there was too much weight given to the limited personal mitigation that was available to him.’
But for Gardner, barrister Mark Stevens argued that the sentence was justified, particularly given the teenager’s difficult upbringing.
He grew up without a father figure and an older brother had died, while his mum had done all she could to keep him on the straight and narrow.
The incident itself was short-lived, a ‘complete overreaction’ to the situation, he told Sir Brian, Mr Justice Nicol and Sir Brian Keith.
Gardner, of London Road, Croydon, claimed he had the knife for protection after he was detained and made to work against his will earlier last year.