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Yobs jailed for Canterbury dog row stabbing

Yobs who stabbed a 17-year-old in revenge for "losing face" in an apparent row over dogs have been locked up.

Wearing masks and arming themselves with a machete and soldier knife, Lewis Whittington and Kenny Harmsworth ambushed their victim in public and broad daylight.

Kenny Harmsworth (pictured) and his accomplice Lewis Whittington ambushed their victim in public in Canterbury.
Kenny Harmsworth (pictured) and his accomplice Lewis Whittington ambushed their victim in public in Canterbury.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, tried to fight off his assailants with a bag of shopping.

But, having knifed the boy in the chest in what a judge described as "senseless and serious" violence, Whittington and Harmsworth fled in a waiting car, boasting "Got him".

The victim had to be airlifted to King's College Hospital in London where he underwent surgery for a collapsed lung.

Canterbury Crown Court heard had he not had specialist treatment he "could easily have died" as a result of the planned and premeditated attack at 6.45pm on August 16 last year.

Prosecutor Rio Pahlavanpour said the victim had previously had a "run-in" with Whittington, then 18, and 22-year-old Harmsworth about "dogs supposedly making a mess" when they had met up at a property.

"During that argument, threats were made by both defendants, with them producing weapons to amplify those threats," he told the court.

"The victim sought to defend himself, grabbed a stick and was able to ward them off. He ran away but they gave chase."

The boy was able to escape but the threats to kill continued when he was purportedly phoned by Harmsworth from a withheld number, added the prosecutor.

The court heard he was later walking with a friend in Beaconsfield Road, Canterbury, when a Ford Fiesta pulled up and the thugs clambered out, brandishing the "fearsome" weapons.

"They ran towards the complainant. He had a bag of shopping and tried to swing it at both to fight them off," said the prosecutor.

"Whittington then used the machete, making a stabbing motion towards his chest.

"Both defendants ran off with Whittington bragging about what he had done. He said 'I got him, I got him, I got him in the chest'."

The injured victim ran to a passing police vehicle while his attackers escaped in the waiting Fiesta.

Lewis Whittington and Kenny Harmsworth have been jailed after a teenager was stabbed in Canterbury.
Lewis Whittington and Kenny Harmsworth have been jailed after a teenager was stabbed in Canterbury.

The court heard the boy spent a week in hospital, having suffered a punctured and collapsed left lung, as well as a partial collapse of his right lung.

The blade penetrated at least 2cm deep and narrowly avoided his heart.

The youth explained in a victim impact statement how he had been left both "scared and in a lot of pain".

He also spoke of having sleep problems, causing his health and education to suffer as a result, and even having to move house over concerns for his safety.

On his arrest, Whittington, now 19 and of no fixed address, was found to have 46 wraps of cocaine in his trouser waistband as well as a burner phone.

He later admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent, possessing a bladed article - the machete - and possessing class A drugs with intent to supply.

Harmsworth, now 23 and formerly of Walden Court, Canterbury, also pleaded guilty to causing GBH with intent and possessing a bladed article - the knife.

Both were originally charged with attempted murder, only for the prosecution to subsequently offer no evidence in response to their guilty pleas to the GBH charge.

Neither weapon was recovered but Mr Pahlavanpour said a 50-second video found on a phone and filmed three days before the violent assault showed the pair sitting in the same Fiesta, singing, and with Harmsworth brandishing a blade.

Of the attack itself, the prosecutor added: "They sought out the victim and their intention was to harm him.

"The offence was committed with the use of a highly dangerous weapon and, given what had occurred earlier, aspects of revenge were present."

The court was told both thugs have themselves been victims of knife crime, with Whittington being stabbed in the head and chest, and Harmsworth having fingers severed in one of two random attacks.

Kim Aiken, defending Whittington, said the teenager had "no excuses" for his behaviour and wanted to apologise to the victim who, she added, was "lucky to be alive".

Expressing his "dreadful shame" and remorse, Ms Aiken told the court he had been "surrounded by violence" from a young age before growing up in care.

But she said the birth of his own son had given him "the determination to be a role model".

"He knows what he did is weak and wrong but he isn't all bad," added Ms Aiken.

Kieran Brand, defending Harmsworth, told the court that he "could not really explain" how he became involved in the violence, other than by "surrounding himself with those who had a negative impact" when he moved from Faversham to Canterbury.

Whittington, the court was told, has 11 previous convictions for 25 offences, including ones for battery, assault, affray and attempted robbery, and was subject to post-release supervision at the time.

Harmsworth has four previous convictions, including one for assaulting an autistic teenager in Faversham in December 2019.

On that occasion, the thug headbutted the boy while his accomplice - not Whittington - brandished a machete.

For that attack, Harmsworth was handed an 18-month community order - a penalty criticised at the time by the victim's father.

But in front of the same sentencing judge on Friday (May 3), Harmsworth was this time jailed for five-and-a-half years and Whittington for seven-and-half years.

Judge Simon James told the pair that although only one of them had inflicted the "grave and life-threatening" injuries, it was nonetheless a joint enterprise with both intent on causing serious harm.

"This was obviously a planned assault, as evidenced by the threats you made to your victim, both in person and over the telephone, that you were intent on killing him," he said.

"In so far as it is possible to define a motive for such senseless and serious violence, it appears that you were seeking revenge for the loss of face you had felt following an earlier confrontation.

"Although you are both relatively young and immature, knife crime is most prevalent amongst teenagers and young men and the courts have repeated that sentences must be imposed to deter people of your age from carrying knives.

"That need is perhaps highlighted by the fact that both of you have previously been the victims of knife crime and yet still you decided to use knives to attack and maim someone else."

But although Judge James also highlighted Whittington's "concerning history" of violent offending, he remarked that a supportive letter written to the court by the mother of his child indicated there was hope that "the new responsibilities of fatherhood might serve to encourage a positive path".

An 18-year-old woman from Canterbury who drove the Fiesta was also arrested and charged with attempted murder and causing GBH with intent.

However, she was formally found not guilty of both offences after the prosecution offered no evidence against her at a hearing in January.

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