The face of man who killed teenager near Chelmsford park 'to teach him a lesson'

An image of Elijah Clarke was shown to the jury
An image of Elijah Clarke was shown to the jury -Credit:Essex Police

The heartbroken family of a teenager who was fatally stabbed after an incident near a Chelmsford park have described him as "a fantastic human" as his killer was convicted of manslaughter. Andy Wood, 16, died after being stabbed in woodlands close to Waterson Vale in Chelmsford in February last year.

Elijah Clarke, 20, of Gloucester Avenue in Chelmsford, was convicted of manslaughter and actual bodily harm on Thursday (May 2) at Chelmsford Crown Court. A jury found him not guilty of murder and possession of a bladed article.

Officers were called to an incident on February 12, 2023, in which Andy had been seriously assaulted. He was taken to hospital where he sadly died.

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After a jury took almost 19 hours to convict Clarke, Andy's family paid tribute to the young victim. They said: "Nothing will bring our awesome Andy back, but today's verdict gives us a small amount of comfort and possibly some sort of closure to allow us to properly grieve going forward.

"The people that knew Andy, will know what a fantastic human being he was and he will be remembered by all that he touched, as an amazing, loving, caring, son, grandson, brother, nephew, cousin and friend that did not deserve to be taken away so soon."

Andy Wood, 16, was tragically killed during an incident in Waterson Vale Chelmsford
Andy Wood, 16, was tragically killed during an incident in Waterson Vale, Chelmsford -Credit:Essex Police

A four-week trial heard Wood had been stabbed after meeting for a drug deal with Clark. Prosecutors claimed the defendant set up the deal to “teach him a lesson” about dealing cannabis in that area of the city.

The defendant said he went into the wooded area after becoming "nervous" by the number of people nearby. Clark said the wooded area was "better, more secluded and dark" and "a more suitable place for a drug deal".

The defendant told the jury he had gone out to buy cannabis but was confronted by Andy and a companion who stabbed him before kicking him as he was on the floor. The prosecution branded Clarke’s account as “absurd” and “made up”.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Louise Metcalfe said “Today’s verdict brings conclusion to an extensive investigation by Essex Police which has lasted over a year. My thoughts remain with Andy’s family and friends at this difficult time, and I commend them for their strength throughout this investigation.”

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