A 15-year-old boy has been locked up for 15 years for murdering a father-of-three who was stabbed to death on his doorstep after confronting a gang who verbally abused his daughter.
The teenage killer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was ‘out of control’ when he murdered stonecutter Jamie Markham, 45, after spending days shouting and swearing outside the victim’s home in Chingford.
He had been caught at school with a knife when he was 12 and Mr Markham believed the boy, then 14, and his friends had broken into the shed at the back of his Old Church Road flat where he kept his tools .
On August 9 last year, the boy and four friends set off fireworks outside Mr. Markham’s home, even though he had been barred from the area by the courts.
The teenager had urged Mr Markham to come out and stop him, telling a passer-by: ‘He’ll get it. He’s running his mouth, he’s a ***.’
Mr. Markham snapped and came out of his shed at the back of his apartment with a large drill.
The stonecutter, who was just 5ft 5″ tall and weighed just eight stone, was seen waving it over his head at the 5ft 11″ teenager, who then pulled out an 18″ knife.
He stabbed Mr Markham three times as they fought ‘like gladiators’.
Mr. Markham was helped back to his apartment by a neighbor, but he collapsed and died.
His killer was known as a troublemaker and had destroyed the local branch of Morrisons by throwing red wine and eggs down the aisles.
He was caught on video spitting in his mother’s face and breaching a criminal behavior order five times by being in the area where he killed Mr. Markham.
He has appeared in court 12 times and been convicted of 22 different offenses since June 2020, when he was 13.
His previous convictions include assault, criminal damage, use of threatening, abusive words and behaviour, sending threatening messages and theft.
Prosecutors called it ‘a sordid story’.
The boy denied murder and possessing a bladed or pointed article and claimed he was acting in self-defence, but was convicted of both offenses in July this year.
Today, Judge John Hillen told him: ‘Jamie Markham was 45 and a family man with three children. He was a hardworking stonemason with his own business who worked hard to support and raise his family.
‘You were variously described by the prosecution as a teenage troublemaker, not one who was prepared to let anyone else tell you what to do and as an obnoxious youngster.
‘Those were harsh words to use with a teenager with a brain that wasn’t or isn’t fully matured or developed.
‘However, given your history… and given what happened on August 9 last year, it is understandable why you would be perceived as a despicable young and adolescent troublemaker by the law-abiding adult population.’
The judge said the teenager took a knife to school, had a knife hidden in the headboard of his bed, had pictures of knives on social media and made internet searches to buy knives.
‘You disappeared regularly. You had a low attendance record at school. Your foster parents could not prevent your bad behavior. You were out of control.
‘An unhealthy interest in knives, violence against those who challenged you, those things came together at Chingford Mount on August 9 last year.’
He added: ‘No sentence that I pass can bring Jamie Markham back to this life.
‘He was a son, a brother, an uncle who can never be replaced. His mother, his sister, his nieces have had their lives ruined by your crime.
‘His partner … and his three children have a lifetime of grief and sorrow.
‘You took his life. You have yours. But yours is now a life which will be subject to the sentence which I now pronounce.’
Judge Hillen sentenced him to custody at His Majesty’s Pleasure for life with a minimum term of 15 years.
Wearing a gray utility jacket, the teenager showed no emotion as he was sentenced, while members of Mr. Markham’s family wept silently in the well of court.
The court heard statements from various members of Mr Markham’s family about how their loss has affected them.
The victim’s mother, Anita Markham, addressed the killer directly: ‘On August 9, 2021 you stabbed my son Jamie Markham three times.
‘You had nothing to say. Not even, “Sorry, I didn’t mean for that to happen.”
‘You couldn’t say it was an accident because you stabbed him three times.
‘[You] taking my son’s life has broken me.
‘I haven’t been able to sleep, wake up at half past one, two in the morning because Jamie is on my mind all the time.
‘Seeing him lying there and knowing that I couldn’t patch him up like when he was a child and wanting so much to help him, bring him back to us.
‘You have taken a part of me for your own selfish reasons. It’s not just my family, but Jamie’s friends, my friends, the community, they’ve all been affected by your evil act of taking his life.
“The first day of the trial was Jamie’s birthday. The wonderful day when he was born.
‘There is no future for my son who has been taken from him by a very evil person, yourself.’
Lisa Sawyer, Mr Markham’s sister, expressed disbelief.
“I didn’t think things like this happened to normal people like us,” she said.
Ms Sawyer’s daughter and Jamie Markham’s niece, Amber Markham, spoke in her statement about the jury’s guilty verdict.
‘I was so grateful to the jury when they had gone the other way, I don’t know how me and my mum would have got my Nan through that.
“In her eyes, there was only one right decision, and luckily the jury saw that too.”
The court heard that Mr Markham and his family had become ‘increasingly irritated’ by youths ‘making a nuisance of themselves’ near their home.
The stonemason returned from work at about 18 the night he died and went to smoke weed to relax in the parking lot behind the shops nearby.
An argument broke out between the father of three, the then 14-year-old, and one of his friends.
His daughter heard the argument and, looking over the balcony at the defendant and his friend, one of them shouted: ‘What the hell are you looking at?’
She heard the two youths continue to ‘shout and swear’ and witness Stuart Cole saw them ‘polishing’ Mr Markham and waiting for him to get out of the car park and into the street.
Sir. Cole was told by the killer, “It’s okay mate. He’s gonna get it. He’s running his mouth, he’s mad.”
Prosecutor Crispin Aylett, QC, earlier told the jury: “Provoked beyond endurance, there must have come a time when Jamie Markham wanted to chase this vile youth away from the area where he and his family lived and no doubt ensure , that he did not come back.’
Mr. Markham grabbed the drill from his shed and came out to confront the teenager.
The boy pulled out his weapon – described as ‘a really sharp kebab knife’.
Mr. Cole shouted, ‘That’s enough’, but saw the teenager stab Mr. Markham under his left arm and in the neck.
A doctor later found a third wound on the left side of the elderly man’s back, which was the fatal blow.
The boy dropped his phone when he fled the scene and that led the police straight to him because it was paid for by his mother.
In his closing speech, Mr Aylett told jurors: ‘He provoked trouble and he provoked it knowing he had the bigger and better weapon.’
‘Sir. Markham armed himself with something in an attempt to meet fire with fire.’
He said the boy had a history of “lack of respect for either authority or his elders.”
Jurors were also shown a video of the boy spitting on his adoptive mother.
He was made the subject of a year-long Criminal Behavior Order (CBO) in January 2021, which banned him from being in Chingford Mount unless accompanied by an adult, but breached the order six times.
He was due to be sentenced for the offenses on August 20, but by then he had killed Mr Markham.
The boy did not give evidence, but his lawyers argued that stabbing Mr Markham was “proportionate” and in self-defence.
Laurie-Anne Power, KC, defending, said her client has ‘started to turn a corner in his life’.
The court heard that in his childhood he had suffered ‘significant turmoil’.
“Despite the family home that he has lived in since he was two, with two supportive parents, he still struggles with that sense of neglect, rejection or loss,” Ms Power said.
‘At least he’s starting to mature and grow up.’
She added: “He takes full responsibility for his actions but maintains there was no intention to kill Jamie Markham.”
The 15-year-old refused but was convicted of murder and possession of an article with a blade or point.