Boy, 16, who stabbed 17-year-old to death in the Cotswolds in a confrontation lasting just two minutes is detained for life – as heartbroken mother says killer, ‘condemned us to a lifetime of pain for his own violent self-gratification’
- Josh Hall, 17, was stabbed six times by 16-year-old Harley Demmon during a fight
- Demmon wrongly believed Josh Hall had made insulting comments about a girl
- The court heard the fatal attack on unarmed Josh lasted less than two minutes
- Demmon was convicted of murder and jailed for life with a minimum of 14 years
A teenager has been locked up for life after being found guilty of murdering a 17-year-old boy in a confrontation that lasted just two minutes.
Harley Demmon, 16, killed Josh Hall after arranging to meet him to ‘sort out their difference’.
There had been some hostility between the two teenagers, and they agreed to meet up at a sports ground in Cam, near Dursley, Gloucestershire.
The confrontation was related to insulting comments about a girl Demmon wrongly believed Josh had made.
Gloucester Crown Court heard that Demmon took a knife with him concealed in his waistband to the meeting on the afternoon of April 16 last year.
The jury were shown chilling CCTV footage showing the killer walking up to the Cam Sports Ground calmly carrying a knife concealed under his clothes.
Harley Demmon, 16, has been jailed for life and must serve a minimum of 14 years after he was convicted of murdering Josh Hall, 17, after arranging to meet him to ‘sort out their difference’
Minutes later he is seen running out confused and switching directions as he attempted to flee the scene.
Between the two clips, Josh was stabbed to death, suffering six fatal knife wounds.
James Dawes QC, prosecuting, told the court: ‘He could not have known what was about to unfold because Harley Demmon had a knife concealed in his waistband.
‘Those watching could not have known what he was going to do.
‘He had worked himself up before he left home, and he had taken that knife with him.
‘When the pushing and pulling started he took out the knife and stabbed Josh to death.’
Josh was stabbed six times during the confrontation which lasted just two minutes and took place in front of other teenagers.
He died the following day in a Bristol hospital.
Pictured: The knife Harley Demmon used to kill Josh Hall which was recovered near the scene
Pictured: A map which was issued by Gloucestershire Police showing the locations of interest
Demmon, from Cam, Dursley, denied murder but was convicted by a jury last November.
The teenager, who was aged 15 at the time, told the court that he was trying to ‘warn’ Josh away with the knife, and that he ‘didn’t mean to stab him’.
In a victim impact statement, Josh’s mother Kirsty Hall said she would never forgive Demmon for what he had done.
‘It took under one minute for our whole life to be blown up into a million pieces,’ Mrs Hall said.
‘We were waiting in the hospital and telling him he couldn’t leave us and he must stay and fight and fight he did for 11 hours.
‘My last words to Josh were, ‘You hurt so much and you are not coming back from this.
The knife used in the attack had been discarded in this bush where it was later recovered
Kirsty Hall, pictured with son Josh, told Demmon she would never forgive him for his actions
Josh’s mother: ‘We must stand up and say no to knife crime’
In a harrowing statement read to the court, Josh’s mother Kirsty Hall explained the pain her family are going through since her son was murdered.
She said: ‘It took under one minute for our world as we knew it to blow up into a million pieces and my happy, smiley, kind and loving best friend was never ever coming home.
‘All of the time waiting in the hospital talking to Josh and telling him he can’t leave me, and he must stay and fight.
‘And fight he did for 11 hours until the moment we were able to be with him.
‘My last words to Josh as I was lying next to him with my arms wrapped around him were, “You are hurt so badly Josh and you’re not coming back from this, go and be with your sister I promise I’ll be okay don’t worry about me”.
‘This memory haunts me and will haunt me forever of my small beautiful broken baby laying on a bed surrounded by tubes.
Mrs Hall said she now lived her life in five minute chunks because she was unable to focus on the future.
‘The image of Josh stumbling around after being stabbed and saying tortures me and I challenge any mother to think about that just for a second,’ she said.
‘We must take a stand against this, we live in rural Gloucestershire where knife crime is extremely uncommon and is frankly unheard of in Cam and Dursley.
‘Now we must stand up and say, “No this isn’t happening here”, the only way we can do this is with a sentence that reflects the premeditated savagery of this attack.
‘Regardless of age, the facts of the case remain the same and the sentence must act as a deterrent to young people carrying and potentially using knives in our areas, this is the courts opportunity to take a stand against this.’
Mrs Hall then turned to Demmon, who had murdered her son, and addressed him directly.
‘For you Harley, I hope one day you will comprehend the actions you took on that day, decimating a family and changing the course of my family’s lives forever,’ she said.
‘We will never ever be the same people again because you took that knife and repeatedly used it in the most violent way you could think of.
‘You apologised when you were on the stand and I now want to take an opportunity to respond.
‘You have misrepresented facts throughout the legal process to extricate yourself from the consequences of your actions.
‘I do not accept your apology and I will never find forgiveness for the action you took on that day.’
”Go and be with your sister, I promise it will be OK’.
‘This moment will haunt me forever, seeing my small boy lying on a bed surrounded by tubes.’
She added: ‘I hope that you one day comprehend the actions you took that day.
‘You decimated our family and changed the course of my family’s life forever.
‘You apologised in court. But you misrepresented the facts to extricate yourself from the consequences of your actions
‘I do not accept your apology, I will never find forgiveness in my heart for what you did.’
Josh’s father Michael Hall explained to the court the impact that Josh’s murder had upon his younger brother.
‘He misses Josh bounding downstairs to greet him after school every day and looks at Josh’s window when we pull onto the drive to see if his bedroom light is on today,’ he said.
‘One day the primary school called me to explain that he had told them he wanted to die and go to heaven so he could be with his brother and our hearts broke further.’
He added: ‘It feels so cruel that Josh was killed just as he was about to take the next big steps in his life; doing well at college, learning to drive, beginning a relationship with his girlfriend as well as securing a job in his chosen career.
‘We mourn Josh deeply, we mourn who both he and Eli might have been & we mourn the people we all were, hopeful, grateful, kind & trying to make the world a slightly better place where possible.
‘There are not words enough to describe the deep & unending pain we feel at our son being taken from us.’
Edward Brown QC, defending, said Demmon had demonstrated remorse in the aftermath of the murder.
‘It is very unusual to encounter a young person who has committed murder who uses a telephone to ring the police, state where he could be found and point the police in the direction to where the knife could be found,’ he said.
‘While in custody shown genuine remorse and distress to what had happened that day.’
Imposing a life sentence with a minimum term of 14 years, Mr Justice Chamberlain said: ‘For several months before April 2021 you had been carrying a knife when you went out.
‘You said that this was because you were afraid of a local drug dealer and because other groups of boys had knives. This may have been part of the reason.
‘Another was that carrying a knife made you feel like a big and powerful man. You talked to your peers using messaging apps including Snapchat.
‘You were teenagers in Gloucestershire, but you spoke in the patois of urban gangsters.
‘You intended to be fearless when in fact you were deeply insecure. You adopted the personas of hardened and fearless criminals.
‘Perceived slights to honour or status were met by promises of violence.’
He added: ‘You inflicted all those wounds in less than a minute. You acted in anger using the knife you had brought to the scene.
Pictured: CCTV footage showing the killer fleeing Cam Sports Ground after the attack
Pictured: CCTV footage showing the killer fleeing Cam Sports Ground after the attack
‘Josh was unarmed and you gave him no chance to defend himself.’
Detective Superintendent John Turner, who led the investigation, said: ‘The death of a young person in these circumstances has had a huge impact but there has been a continued sense of willingness from the community of all ages to engage with the police, which enabled the investigation team to understand and present what had happened to the jury.
‘This ultimately resulted in them reaching the guilty verdict and I hope that this will allow the Hall family to have some form of closure in knowing that their son’s killer is behind bars.’
Joanne Pearce, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS South West, said: ‘The prosecution’s case was that when he went to meet Joshua that day the defendant brought a knife with the intention of using it.
‘His deliberate use of that knife against Joshua resulted in the heart-breaking and tragic loss of a young life.
‘As a consequence of a knife being carried a family has experienced the loss of a much-loved son and a brother.
‘The defendant will now be imprisoned for the rest of his youth and a significant part of this adult life.
‘The case also highlights a profoundly negative impact of social media use by teenagers, with its instant nature leading to disputes that can escalate very quickly.
‘Joshua’s family have shown incredible strength throughout the legal process and our thoughts are with them, and with Josh’s friends, as this case comes to its conclusion.
‘The CPS is committed to working with our criminal justice partners to tackle knife crime and we will prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law.’
After the guilty verdict, Josh’s family called on lessons to be learnt to avoid similar tragedies.
They said: ‘We feel all parents need to learn an urgent and desperate lesson to take closer notice and involvement in the lives of their young people, in particular on social media.
‘Similarly far too many lives are being destroyed by knives, with social media an aggravating factor.
‘The circumstances of Josh’s stabbing are so deeply shocking – a small sleepy Gloucestershire town, a sunny mid-afternoon in April and a young man carrying a butcher’s knife for months beforehand.
‘Parents and communities cannot rely on the authorities to provide a moral education to their children.
‘Joshua was and always will be a source of light and beauty for our family. We will continue to share our pride that Josh spread love and helped people greatly, despite his youth.
‘We will continue to tell our youngest how amazing a person and brother Josh was.’
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