Brixton stabbing: ‘Back-from-the-dead’ teenager’s Rambo knife attackers jailed

James Bascoe-Smith outside the Old Bailey (PA)
James Bascoe-Smith outside the Old Bailey (PA)

The family of a teenage musician who came back from the dead after being repeatedly stabbed slammed his two attackers for “sentencing him to life in a wheelchair” as they were jailed on Friday.

James Bascoe-Smith, then 16, was left with profound and life-changing injuries when he was knocked off his mother’s bicycle during a test-ride by a stolen black Range Rover in Brixton.

Masked men mistook James for someone else knifing him in the chest, arm and thigh on February 23 last year.

The “happy-go-lucky” youngster shouted, “Mum, I’ve been stabbed” during a FaceTime video call to Lisa Bascoe-Smith before collapsing on Henry Road about 6.15pm.

His heart stopped and he effectively died for 50 minutes near his home, only to be brought back to life by medics, the Old Bailey heard.

A selection of “terrifying” knives discarded by the fleeing thugs included a combat knife, a Rambo-style blade and a Zombie-style machete.

Church-going James was doing well in his GCSEs and working as a gym coach before he found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“Happy-go-lucky” teenager James Bascoe-Smith (PA) (PA Archive)
“Happy-go-lucky” teenager James Bascoe-Smith (PA) (PA Archive)

Now aged 18 and confined to a wheelchair having suffered a lack of blood and oxygen to the brain, he was surrounded by tearful family members on Friday as Leon Rashid, 20, and Taiquane Lewis, 18, were sentenced for conspiracy to murder over the “merciless assault”.

Rashid, from Thornton Heath, and Lewis, of Kennington were each handed life sentences with minimum terms of 14 years and 13 years respectively.

James’s aunt Rachel Duncan told the Standard: “No sentence they receive will be enough. They’ve left James with a life sentence of care and rehabilitation. He’s disabled in his teens which is more upsetting because he hadn’t even started life.

“Rashid and Lewis will come out and have families whereas James, who loved looking after his cousins, probably won’t have his own children.

“When I go to James’s house, he’s the only one sat in a wheelchair.

Leon Rashid, 20, and Taiquane Lewis, 18, who attacked James Bascoe-Smith (Metropolitan Police)
Leon Rashid, 20, and Taiquane Lewis, 18, who attacked James Bascoe-Smith (Metropolitan Police)

“My sister will never be the same again. We used to call James her handbag because he was always by her side. She’s had to give up her job to do everything for him.”

She added: “When is the violence going to stop? James wasn’t safe on his own doorstep in London. I’m tired of going to Nine Nights and funerals. My nephew’s teenage friends have been to more than me in my life.

“There needs to be more stop and searches by police to get these knives off the streets. Barriers must be broken down so people in communities know why good searches take place.

“Considering the knife crime epidemic, we were also struck by how few members of the public know about emergency first aid. People just froze on the stop and stared as James bled out. It breaks my heart.”

During the hearing, a pre-recorded video was played in which James asked why the defendants targeted him and whether they now “feel bad”.

He said: “When I was stabbed by these people I remember crying out for my mum and pleading for them to stop.

“I do not remember much and I could not communicate for six months after the attack.

“Since the attack my life has changed.

“They have stopped me from driving, going on my first holiday with my friends to celebrate my 18th birthday, gymnastics coaching, working and from becoming a music producer as I was studying this in college.”

He described moving away from Brixton, leaving behind friends, neighbours and “everyone that I knew”.

He went on: “I now need a carer full time, they are complete strangers to me who come in to provide me my personal care, to feed and clothe me.

“I cannot get out of bed on my own, I can’t even brush my own teeth and I need a lot of medication to help me with my recovery.

“I have been left in a wheelchair that is not electric, I rely on everyone to move me, I have no independence.

“I now have a brain injury because my heart stopped for nearly an hour, I don’t think I will ever be able to work or study again.

“I was very active before the attack, I was very involved in my community and helping my family, I would pick up my little cousins from school help them with their work and I would coach them at gymnastics.

“I did not deserve this, I had no issues with anyone, I don’t know why they attacked me, I just want to know why they attacked me and if they feel bad for what they have done.”

He added: “I am grateful that the doctors saved my life but living like this is hard , I miss my friends , I miss my old life, every day I wake up knowing this is how I will be forever.”

Prosecutor Edward Brown KC read a victim impact statement from James’s mother in which she said: “I remember standing on my doorstep waiting for him to come back. My phone rang and I saw James lying on the floor.

“I sunk when I saw him in a pool of blood. I keep asking myself, ‘How can it have happened in that space of a minute out of my eyesight?’”

For donations to James’s rehabilitation, visit the family’s GoFundMe page: