Families of teenagers murdered at birthday party ‘left with own life sentence’

Jess Glass, PA
·3-min read

The families of two teenagers stabbed to death in an ambush at a birthday party have been “left with our own life sentence”, a court heard.

Dom Ansah and Ben Gillham-Rice, both 17, were stabbed to death at a house in the Emerson Valley area of Milton Keynes on October 19 2019.

Charlie Chandler, 23, Clayton Barker, 20, and two 17-year-olds were convicted of their murders last month as well as two counts of wounding against other partygoers.

Earl Bevans, 23, pleaded guilty to all four charges at the start of the trial.

Stabbing in Milton Keynes
Clayton Barker (Thames Valley Police/PA)

On Tuesday, the sentencing hearing began for the five defendants, where the families of the victims told Luton Crown Court about the impact of their deaths.

Jason Rice, Ben’s father, told the court his son was “infectiously funny” and caring.

He said: “As parents we only wanted to protect, love and watch Ben grow, explore and fulfil his dreams and ambitions. All of these have been taken away.”

“Our hearts have been shattered like a piece of glass into thousands of pieces that will never be put back together,” he added.

“We wake up every day praying this is a dream, that our boy will return to us, but the reality is it’s a living nightmare.”

Mr Rice called for life sentences to be passed for the defendants.

Stabbing in Milton Keynes
Charlie Chandler (Thames Valley Police/PA)

He added: “We will never see our boy again but the murderers will see their families, their families will see their sons, we would swap that in an instant.

“When they killed Ben, they killed us. Their actions mean that we are left with our own life sentence.”

Tracey Ansah, Dom’s mother, said her son was widely loved, with nearly 500 people attending his funeral.

She said: “My heart breaks every day waking up and feeling this gut-wrenching pain of not having my son… every day not hearing him say ‘I love you mum’ because he was never embarrassed to say those words, even in front of his friends.”

“All our hopes and dreams have gone, he will never be a father, an uncle, he will never pass his driving test, he will never open that barbershop he wanted, he will never get the chance to do anything again,” she added.

Mrs Ansah said her son had made mistakes as a teenager but had “lived and learned” from them, and had never carried a knife.

She continued: “I now ask that you don’t fail us and I ask you to see how much Dom was loved, not just by his family but by many people.

“We are now a broken family that will never be repaired because the link isn’t there anymore… His life was worth more than any sentence you will be able to give.”

Stabbing in Milton Keynes
Earl Bevans (Thames Valley Police/PA)

Trial judge Mr Justice Spencer will hear mitigation from barristers representing the five defendants on Tuesday afternoon.

The court previously heard Ben was stabbed six times in the living room of the property.

Dom was “hacked”, prosecutor Charlotte Newell QC said, with the teenager receiving 47 injuries before later dying in hospital.

Addressing the aggravating elements of the crimes on Tuesday, Ms Newell told the court the “savage” attacks were orchestrated within a short period and involved the use of at least three deadly weapons.

She added the attack took place in the house of an “innocent young girl on her 17th birthday” before moving into the street, traumatising neighbours who witnessed it.

Bevans, of no fixed address, Chandler and Barker, both of Bletchley, Milton Keynes, and the two unnamed teenagers will be given their sentences on Wednesday when court resumes at 10.30am.