Thursday, March 24, 2005

Colwyn Bay - Calls for tougher laws on knives following skateboarder murdered in Colwyn Bay.

Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 March, 2005, 06:58 GMT 
Calls for tougher laws on knives
Ben Jones
Ben Jones died in an unprovoked attack nine months ago
Tougher penalties for knife offenders have been demanded by the mother of a skateboarder murdered in Colwyn Bay.Ben Jones, 18, had been skateboarding with friends in June 2004 when he was knifed in the chest in a road rage incident by Christopher Johnson, 27.
Christine Jones wants a five year minimum sentence for knife offenders, a call backed by a police chief.
A Home Office minister said it is considering a range of measures to control the growing knife culture.
Ben Jones' murder was one of six fatal stabbings in north Wales since summer 2004.
Deputy Chief Constable of North Wales Police Clive Wolfendale told the Week In Week programme on BBC Wales that he wanted jail terms for anyone carrying a knife without good reason.
Christine and Neil Jones
Christine Jones, and her other son Neil, want tougher sentences
"We need deterrents through tougher sentencing," he said.
"I firmly believe that imprisonment should be the norm and the onus should be on the individual to explain why he or she is carrying a bladed weapon."
The programme investigated the background of Johnson, 27, from Old Trafford in Greater Manchester, who was told he would serve a minimum of 16 years of a life term for Ben Jones' murder by the judge who sentenced him at Mold Crown Court in October 2004.
It found that he had track record of carrying out knife attacks, stretching back to 1995 when, aged just 18, he chased someone with an eight-inch knife and threatened to kill them at a caravan park in Kinmel Bay, Abergele.
Johnson was given a 12-month probation order and, in 1998, he carried out two road-rage incidents in a week for which he was sentenced to 12 months in prison but was released after serving just half the term.
Christine Jones said that she believes her son's death could have been prevented.
"He shouldn't have been walking free," she said. "He is an escalating danger and he should have been pulled out of society earlier.
Christopher Johnson
Johnson was told he would serve a minimum of 16 years
Mr Wolfendale said knife crime had to be taken more seriously and he would welcome penalties more in line with those imposed for guns, where possession carries a five-year term.
"All sorts of weapons are available on the internet and that's difficult to control," he said.
"But on top of that, every DIY shop, every kitchen shop, contains potentially 1,000 lethal weapons. It's just impossible to control even if we wanted to."
Home Office Minister Caroline Flint, who is responsible for tackling knife crime, told Week In Week Out that new measures are being considered.
"We'll be looking at consulting on a mandatory sentence for carrying a knife and using it in offences, but also the sentencing guidelines for people using knives.
"People need to be reassured that the penalties for using knives are right."
Week In Week Out is broadcast on BBC 1 Wales at 2235 GMT on Tuesday.

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