'Dangerous' killers jailed for 72 years for fatally stabbing Sheffield dad over drug 'turf war'

Four ‘practised and dangerous’ criminals have been jailed for a combined total of 72 years for stabbing a young dad to death in the street over a drug ‘turf war’.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 12 June, 2019, 15:34
TOP ROW L-R: Devon Walker and Josiah Foster BOTTOM ROW L-R: Lewis Barker and Caine Gray

Jarvin Blake died a matter of minutes after being stabbed at the junction of Catherine Street and Brackley Street, Burngreave just after 3pm on March 8 last year. 

People sitting in the public gallery began to cry as the four men responsible for Mr Blake’s death were escorted out of court to begin substantial prison sentences this afternoon. 

Jarvin Blake was fatally stabbed in March last year

Murderers Lewis Barker and Caine Gray were both jailed for life, with Barker, 27, sentenced to a minimum of 23 years and Gray, 28, to serve a minimum of 19 years. 

Devon Walker, 25, and Josiah Foster, 26, were both jailed for 10 years, with an extended license period of a further five years, for the manslaughter of Mr Blake. 

The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, said each of the four defendants were all ‘practised and dangerous’ criminals who each ‘took a role’ in the plan to inflict ‘intimadatory violence’ upon Mr Blake. 

“I have no doubt that the killing of Mr Blake was because of his persistence in drug dealing in Pitsmoor which profoundly angered those who had an existing criminal enterprise there,” Judge Richardson told the four defendants, adding that he regarded the fact Mr Blake had been killed over what he described as a ‘turf war’ involving the selling of Class A drugs to be an aggravating factor. 

Lewis Barker and Caine Gray have both been jailed for life for the murder of Mr Blake

“This form of activity where intimidatory violence is to be visited upon another criminal against a backdrop of drug peddling must have visited upon it the most severe sentences, commensurate to the criminality involved...those who participate in this form of crime must understand that severe punishment will follow,” he said. 

Judge Richardson said each of the four men were ‘keen’ to execute the plan to inflict violence upon Mr Blake. 

Walker’s role was to ‘lure’ Mr Blake to Burngreave and to ‘report to the others where he was’; while Foster acted as the driver and took Barker and Gray to the scene. 

Judge Richardson said that Walker and Foster knew ‘some bodily injury’ would be inflicted upon Mr Blake, as opposed to ‘really serious injury’. 

Devon Walker and Josiah Foster were found unanimously guilty of Mr Blake's manslaughter

“I am not sure it was the intention of either Barker or Gray to kill Blake, but really serious injury was to be visited upon him. You certainly intended that,” said Judge Richardson. 

The court was told that Barker brought the knife to the scene, and inflicted the fatal stab wound to his chest. 

Mr Blake’s friend, Declan Maw, also dealt Class A drugs, and was injured in the same incident when Walker hit him with a yellow paving slab as he attempted to escape. 

“It must be made clear to everyone, and particularly clear to each of the four defendants in this case, that those who attach themselves to a plan to attack another man, particularly against a backdrop of criminal conduct involving Class A drugs, must expect, and will receive, severe sentences,” added Judge Richardson.  

He described all four of the defendants as ‘men of violence’ who each ‘posed a danger to everyone in this city and elsewhere’ as free men. 

Referring to the life sentences handed to Barker and Gray, Judge Richardson said: “It is unclear to me when it may be safe for you to be released from prison. If that day should ever come, it will be many, many years hence.”

Judge Richardson said he concluded that Walker and Foster were ‘dangerous offenders’ and the criteria for imposing the extended sentences had been ‘plainly met’. 

“There is a high risk that history will repeat itself, and serious violence will result from their actions,” he said. 

Barker, of HMP Lincoln, pleaded guilty to Mr Blake’s murder on the first day of trial in April. 

Gray, of Treetown Crescent, Treeton; Walker, formerly of Burngreave and Foster, of Cookson Close, Wadsley Bridge were all found unanimously guilty of murder and manslaugher, respectively, following a five-week trial at Sheffield Crown Court. 

Walker was also found guilty of an additional offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm for the attack carried out against Mr Maw. 

He was sentenced to one year in prison for this assault, to run concurrently to the 10 year sentence he received for the manslaughter of Mr Blake.