A Thornton Heath man has been jailed for life for a ‘despicable’ attack on a teenage boy, who effectively died for nearly an hour, after he was set upon with machetes and zombie knives.

Gang members Leon Rashid, 20, of Dunheved Road, Thornton Heath, and Taiquana Lewis, 19, of Kennington Park Road, Kennington, were sentenced at the Old Bailey after being found guilty of conspiracy to murder James Bascoe-Smith last year as the now-18-year-old’s family sobbed.

Mr Bascoe-Smith was left needing to use a wheelchair and struggling to communicate as a result of the attack.

The attack took place in Lambeth on 23 February 2021. James Bascoe-Smith, who was 17 at the time, was riding his bike when the unprovoked attack took place.

During the horrific attack, Mr Bascoe-Smith shouted  “call my mum, call my mum” after he was knocked off a bicycle and repeatedly stabbed by masked men, the Old Bailey heard.

The court heard James was the entirely innocent victim of a gang stabbing sparked either by a provocative online drill video or as “tit-for-tat” revenge for a previous attack.


He effectively died for nearly an hour before being brought back to life by medics.

Detective Superintendent Neerav Patel said: “He was completely innocent, just out riding his bicycle when he was mistaken for a rival in a senseless dispute between opposing gangs.”

The 17-year-old then spent 174 days in hospital before being allowed home where he continues to work on his recovery, achieving 100 sit-ups in his wheelchair.

The court heard the defendants both had previous convictions for carrying knives.

A selection of “terrifying” knives were discarded by the fleeing attackers included a combat knife, a rambo-style blade and a zombie-style machete.

Sentencing, Judge Ian Bourne KC said: “No-one can fail to be deeply moved by the devastating effect the life changing and tragic events of 23 February 2021 has had, not just for James Bascoe-Smith but his family, friends and the wider community.”

James’ family spoke of their determination to help prevent more innocent victims of knife crime.

His mother Lisa Bascoe-Smith, said: “James did not have any issues with anybody in the area. He is a happy boy, always smiling.”

James’s aunt, Rachel Duncan, said: “James is a victim of a broken society. Our community needs healing, care, and hope we can overcome this evil that has plagued the community.

“We cannot give up on our youth. We have to learn to forgive.

“We truly need to end this cycle of violence that can often become generational. We need to eradicate knife violence on our streets.”

Detective Superintendent  Patel added: “James was declared clinically dead for fifty minutes after this attack which saw him run down and stabbed by cowards.

“Passers-by offered immediate assistance, and paramedics refused to give up on James, miraculously restarting his heart. With a five per cent chance of survival it is nothing short of a miracle that James is with us today. The best medical treatment from the NHS and the unrelenting love of his family saved his life.

“James really is an inspiration to us all, a beacon of light against evil and cowardice.

“I would also pay tribute to a member of public who was first on scene, called police and stayed with James awaiting the arrival of emergency services. Her testimony proved vital in the case.

“I would also like to commend James and his family for their patience and support, and join the rest of the community in wishing James a healthy road to recovery.

“Finally I want to issue a warning to those who engage in violence on our streets – we will never stop pursuing you to ensure you are brought to justice for your crimes.”

Speaking outside the Old Bailey, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for London South, David Malone, said: “The first and last word in this case belongs to James Bascoe-Smith, his mum, Lisa, and their family whose heroism and dignity throughout contrasts starkly with the cowardice of those sentenced here today – gang members who have shown no remorse for their despicable actions.”

Pictures: Credit Met Police