A ‘DANGEROUS’ Rugby teenager shot a man in the face with a sawn-off shotgun just two days after carrying out a ferocious knife attack.
And now 17-year-old Harvey Damerum will spend at least ten-and-a-half years behind bars before the Parole Board will even consider releasing him after being branded a dangerous offender.
He had pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of a man in Coventry in February last year – but was found guilty following a trial at Warwick Crown Court in October.
Damerum, of Cook Close, Brownsover, Rugby, had also denied a further attempted murder charge following his shooting of another man in Rugby two days after the stabbing.
But his pleas of guilty to an alternative offence of wounding with intent and to possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life were accepted by the prosecution.
Following an adjournment for a report to be prepared on him, Damerum was jailed for five years for those offences – with a consecutive extended sentence of 12 years plus an additional three on licence for the attempted murder.
So after he has served half of the five-year term he will begin the extended sentence, and will have to serve eight years of that before the Parole Board can consider his release.
If he is then freed before serving the full 12-year term, Damerum, who had no previous convictions, will be on licence for the rest of that time and for a further three years.
Also in the dock was Charley Taylor, 19, of Ennerdale, Brownsover, who was given an extended sentence of six years, with a further two years on licence, after he was cleared of attempted murder but found guilty of wounding the Coventry victim with intent.
Prosecutor Graeme Simpson said the stabbing took place at night on February 25 in the centre of Coventry.
Damerum and Taylor were staying at the Hylands Hotel, where CCTV showed they both appeared to be intoxicated and Damerum was inhaling nitrous oxide from a balloon.
Tracked by street and business CCTV cameras, they were seen trying car doors as they headed into Greyfriars Lane.
“In a very short space of time (the victim), who is in his 20s, appears from round the corner, making his way home after going to the shops to buy food.
“The defendants were on the opposite side of the road, and they saw him. He was a complete stranger to them, and they approached him and Charley Taylor said ‘We’re going to kill you,’ and they attacked him.”
It was over within 30 seconds, with the victim having been stabbed at least four times by Damerum.
Badly injured and bleeding heavily, the man was chased by Taylor as he ran into New Union Street where he first went into the Coventry Kebab House to seek assistance – only to be turned away and pointed in the direction of the nearby police station.
He then made it to the Taste of Mexico take-away, where a member of staff went outside to phone for an ambulance.
The defendants ran towards the man, who took refuge inside and locked the door as they repeatedly banged on the window and door shouting threats that they would kill him.
Taylor then spotted the staff member on the phone and ran towards him, threatening him.
Meanwhile someone at the nearby police station had heard the commotion, and officers arrested Taylor at the scene, although Damerum evaded capture and made his way by train back to Rugby.
The victim was given emergency first aid by officers as he lay on the ground screaming in agony as pressure was placed on the wound to his abdomen.
When a ‘Rambo knife’ with a 14cm blade was later found in nearby bushes, it had the victim’s blood and Taylor’s DNA on it, having been handed to him by Damerum after the stabbing.
Two days later, at just before 5pm, witnesses reported seeing a group of males in Grosvenor Road, Rugby, with their faces covered, and with weapons including a knife and a baseball bat.
“They were making their way to an alleyway where the witnesses could see movement” said Mr Simpson.
“At about the same time other witnesses called the police to report that they had seen a male in a high-vis vest, Damerum, with a scooter. He had a shotgun, and they heard a single shot.”
Arriving on the scene, PC Chris Batchelder saw Damerum leaving on an electric scooter and followed him at a safe distance to an off-road cycle way where he waited for armed officers, and Damerum was the arrested after a short foot chase.
A rucksack was found nearby with seven live rounds and one spent cartridge in it – and when the sawn-off shotgun he had used was found later in a bag, it had been reloaded.
His victim was taken to hospital with multiple shotgun pellet wounds to his face, but Mr Simpson said that apart from allowing the police to photograph his injuries, ‘that was as far as his co-operation went.’
But the Coventry victim said in his statement that as Damerum and Taylor chased him after he had been stabbed ‘I felt they had followed me to finish the job and kill me.’
He said he believed if he had not been able to shut the door at the Taste of Mexico, ‘they would have slaughtered me’ – and as he lay on the ground, he thought he had only minutes to live before bleeding to death.
After he came round following surgery he was in so much pain that it felt as though he was being stabbed again, he said, and he still suffers pain which has affected his work.
Andrew Tucker, for Damerum, said: “As happens all too often, children who are excluded [from school] find themselves spending too much time out of the control of home on the street.
“He came into contact with a group of thoroughly reprehensible older men who offered him a kind of friendship and then exploited him, and he was subjected to enforced criminality.
“He suffered himself in February last year through being stabbed. He was in fear of the people concerned, but still in contact with them.
“He was provided by them with the sawn-off shotgun and instructions on how to use it. It was given to him for the purpose of dealing with someone who was plainly a criminal rival. It was plainly a wicked thing to have done.”
Referred to the pre-sentence report, Judge Peter Cooke commented: “I think the author of the report was too readily accepting of his expressions of remorse.
“She had not heard what I had heard, there were all sorts of things on display in the witness box, and remorse was not one of them.”
And of a suggestion there was a low risk of reoffending, the judge pointed out: “He has twice been found with improvised weapons in his cell.”
Justin Jarmola, for Taylor, who had previous convictions for violence and for having offensive weapons, said: “He is an idiot. He would not be offending if it was not for alcohol.
“It is getting him into situations where he is disinhibited and committing offences including this, which is the most serious in his life. But he was not the principal offender.”
Sentencing the two, Judge Cooke, who ruled them both to be dangerous offenders, told Taylor: “(The Coventry victim) had the great misfortune to turn a corner and find himself in a road where you and Harvey Damerum were looking for a victim.
“What began as a robbery turned within seconds into a gratuitous stabbing by Harvey Damerum. Five separate wounds were identified. The injuries were nasty ones, but they are not permanent or irreversible.
“Your case is aggravated by your antecedents and by your actions in trying to prevent what had happened being reported, and aggravated by your profound level of intoxicants, rendering your behaviour utterly irrational and unpredictable.”
And Judge Cooke then told Damerum: “Yours is a sad tale of our times – exposure to gang culture at a young and vulnerable age made you a victim of a stabbing at the age of 15 and being inveigled into criminal activity.
“But it has also turned you into a perpetrator of serious crime and a habitual knife-carrier, and you were armed when you and Charley Taylor took it into your heads to attack an unarmed person in the street.
“You started stabbing him, and you did so five times, and your intention was to kill (the Coventry victim). As it was, you left him with serious injuries and scarred mentally.
“I must also sentence you for the shooting of another man two days later, which plainly calls for a consecutive sentence.”