World / 31 January 2019, 07:46am / REBECCA CAMBER CRIME CORRESPONDENT
London - A teenage rapper spared jail for a zombie knife attack has been ordered to serve more than three years after a judge said courts must send a message on knife crime.
Joshua Gardner, 18, was caught on camera furiously hammering at a driver’s window with the ten-inch blade after the motorist pulled out in front of his bicycle on May 30 last year.
There was public outrage when the thug was spared jail after the dashcam footage showing the then 17-year-old trying to batter his way into the car went viral. In front of shocked passers-by in Croydon, south London, he tried to rip the car’s door off.
He then smashed the passenger window and reached through with the weapon in his hand, forcing the terrified driver to abandon his vehicle. Gardner was convicted of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent after a trial at the Old Bailey.
He also admitted affray and possessing the knife, but only received a two-year suspended sentence from Judge Anuja Dhir QC last November. Furious police said the decision left them ‘speechless’.
It later emerged that Gardner was part of a so-called drill music gang, whose members rap about shootings and ‘slashings’. Drill music is a type of rap linked by community leaders to gang wars. To ‘drill’ means to fight and the songs’ violent lyrics focus on drugs, guns and killing.
Gardner, who is said to be known to the Metropolitan Police’s gang unit, was reported to have appeared in drill videos produced by the ‘GLane’ gang in Croydon.
He was let off with a community order after being convicted of attempted robbery last February, having demanded a 12-year-old schoolboy’s phone and wallet at knifepoint in Croydon in March 2017.
His sentence for the zombie knife attack was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Attorney General. Yesterday three appeal judges quashed his sentence as too lenient. Ordering Gardner to serve three and a half years, appeal judge Sir Brian Leveson said: ‘There can never be any excuse for carrying a weapon of the type this offender carried.
‘Purported self-defence all too frequently becomes an offence and results in fatal injuries, particularly to teenage boys, almost daily.’
There was a dispute between Gardner and his victim, Levar Gilbert, 19, before the attack. Mr Gilbert panicked when he saw Gardner and tried to flee but crashed. Gardener ditched his bike in the road to chase him. Mr Gilbert was not hurt.
Mark Stevens, defending, said Gardner carried the knife because he was scared of being attacked by a rival gang after being kidnapped once before.