Teenage boy found guilty of murder of 17-year-old Joshua Hall
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A teenage boy has been found guilty of the murder of 17-year-old Joshua Hall, who was fatally stabbed at a sports ground earlier this year.
A jury took three hours and nine minutes to return the verdict following a trial at Gloucester Crown Court. The 16-year-old boy cannot legally be named due to his age.
Josh Hall suffered several stab and slash wounds during the attack at the Cam Sports Ground in Dursley on Friday 16 April shortly before 1.20pm, with one wound in his abdomen being fatal.
He was operated on by emergency services at the scene, but died the next day at Southmead Hospital in Bristol.
The court was told that the pair had arranged to meet up to "sort out their differences" but the youth, who was aged 15 at the time, was armed with a knife.
Jurors heard the confrontation was in relation to alleged comments made about a girl and that the boy felt he had been insulted by Josh.
Josh suffered six stab wounds in the incident which lasted for less than two minutes.
The 16-year-old boy denied murder and told the court that he was trying to "warn" Josh away with the knife, and that he "didn't mean to stab him".
However jurors returned a guilty verdict for murder today, Wednesday 3 November, following a trial which lasted more than two weeks. He is due to be sentenced on 17 December.
After today’s guilty verdict, Josh’s family has released the following statement:
"Whilst no verdict can possibly undo the terrible acts of violence against Josh, we have felt and deeply appreciate the continued hard work done by everyone involved in prosecuting this case.
"As Josh's parents and parents to Josh’s brother, 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.
"We would like to thank the Major Crime Team at Gloucestershire Constabulary as well as the Crown Prosecution Service. We will be eternally grateful for all they have done and the passion and commitment shown in getting justice for Josh.
"We would also like to thank the young witnesses who gave evidence under intense scrutiny and chose to do the right thing, we are proud of you and our family thank you."
Detective Chief Inspector John Turner, the Senior Investigating Officer, said: "For Josh's young life to be cut so cruelly short in such tragic and unnecessary circumstances is beyond comprehension.
"There are no words or verdict which will ever bring back this young man, but I hope today's outcome will bring a small sense of peace to Josh's family - who have shown immense strength and courage throughout.
"The young boy told the court when giving evidence that he carried a knife for his own protection. He made the decision that day to turn up to what should have been an argument at most, armed with a dangerous weapon which he intended to use.
"This is alarming, and even more heart-breaking when it's children who are involved.
"I would urge anyone who knows of a friend or someone in their community who carries a knife to please contact independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously and report it.
"My thoughts and condolences remain with Josh's family and friends during this extremely difficult and painful time."
As part of a national campaign, Gloucestershire Constabulary is running a knife and firearms surrender which will run from Monday 8 November.
During this time the public can hand in knives at drop-off bins located at police stations across the county. Anyone can turn up during the time receptions are open, and those who attend will not be asked to provide any details.
More details on the campaign will be released in due course.