FOUR young men who carried out a planned vengeance attack on a member of a rival group, leaving him for dead in a quiet residential street, have each been jailed for more than nine years.
Although their victim clinically died at the scene after being repeatedly stabbed, he survived thanks to first aid from local residents and the skill of paramedics and surgeons.
His three attackers, two of whom stabbed him to the leg and body, and their get-away driver all pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to attempted murder.
But Donnowan Gurirab, Farouk Semakula and two other men, who cannot be named for legal reasons, eventually pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of wounding with intent.
Gurirab, 21, of Paradise Street, Rugby; Semakula, 21, of Oakfield Road, Rugby; and the 22-year-old driver, also from Rugby, were all jailed for nine years and seven months.
The fourth person, a 21-year-old from Rugby, who used a baseball bat during the attack but was subject to a community order at the time for possessing a knife, was sentenced to nine years and ten months.
Prosecutor Adrian Keeling QC said the defendants were members of a group or gang known as CB, which was in dispute with another gang called Real Side Groves, of which the 22-year-old victim was a member.
There had been incidents in the past between the two groups, once of which had involved someone getting stabbed, and they also created music which ‘disrespected’ their rivals.
The home of the defendant who was to act as the driver on the day of the incident had attracted unwanted attention from the other group, which was the immediate trigger for what happened.
A week earlier three masked men, at least one of whom had a knife, had made threatening gestures outside while his mother was at home before the letters RSG were carved on the front gate.
On the evening of February 6, while the driver was at work, Gurirab and the baseball bat-user, turned up and were seen handling knives, as if they were expecting trouble.
The next morning the driver was seen leaving his home with two knives he had brought into the house the previous week.
He left in his black VW Golf and returned after picking up the other unnamed defendant, went back into the house and came out with the baseball bat that man was to use in the attack.
They then met up with Semakula and Gurirab and drove the three miles to the area of Rugby where the victim lived, and an hour before the attack an off-duty officer has seen them ‘mooching around’ in the car, as if up to no good.
They were in the mouth of a road leading into Balcombe Road when they spotted him, and when the driver stopped the other three piled out of the car and gave chase as he fled.
Outside a house in Balcombe Road, Gurirab and Semakula stabbed the unarmed man repeatedly, while the third attacker hit him with the baseball bat before they ran back to the car and were driven away.
The savage and potentially deadly attack had taken place in full view of horrified witnesses, who had heard the terrified man crying out ‘No, no, no,’ before crying for his mother as his attackers made off.
Among the witnesses were a woman and her 14-year-old daughter who were looking to buy a house there, and she drove off and alerted a Pc Kirton when she saw him in a patrol car nearby.
Meanwhile the owner of the house outside which the attack had taken place – who said he now wants to move – came out and saw the victim ‘lying in a river of blood.’
He and other residents did what they could to help the man, desperately trying to stem the flow of arterial blood coming from his leg, where his femoral artery had been totally severed.
“It was immediately apparent to them that the blood loss was very serious. Some realised he might die, and some thought he had,” said Mr Keeling.
“In the short time it took Pc Kirton to arrive, the victim had already become unresponsive. He stopped breathing and officers had to perform CPR, supported by the residents.
“The emergency medical services arrived and found him to be unconscious and without any heart electrical activity.”
Clinically dead, he was lucky to survive the attack, and was rushed to hospital where he underwent emergency surgery during which he was given a massive blood transfusion.
After driving away, the driver called his brother to ask him to pick him up, telling him about the attack and adding he didn’t know if the victim was alive or not, and didn’t care.
He laughed as he described how one of the ‘Rambo-type’ knives, which had been thrown into the water at a nearby fishery, had been used to stab him to the leg and the other to the back.
Meanwhile Gurirab went to a friend’s home where he asked her to wash his clothes while he had a shower.
Mr Keeling added: “The victim very nearly died, and he has been left with long-term consequences. There clearly was significant premeditation. He was targeted because he was a member of a rival gang.
“The prosecution submits that such brazen lawlessness in a quiet residential street on a Sunday lunchtime is a significant aggravating feature.”
The court heard that Gurirab had no previous convictions, while Semakula and the driver had only minor drugs and driving matters, but the fourth defendant was subject to a community order at the time for possessing a Rambo-style knife.
Derek Johashen, for the driver, said he took issue with the description of the defendants as being part of a gang, and said they were ‘a group of friends’ – an argument echoed by other defence barristers.
Judge Peter Cooke remarked: “I’m not going to get hung up on terminology, but what this is not is true gang violence involving a turf war.”
Mr Johashen added: “He was ostensibly leading an orderly relatively law-abiding lifestyle. He reacted because he felt he had been pushed into a corner, and things had got out of hand with this other group.”
Simon Hunka, for Gurirab, in a comment echoed by other defence barristers, said: “What does surprise anyone who knows them is how something as serious as this could have happened in broad daylight, committed by a group of what are otherwise nice young men.”
Jailing the four, Judge Cooke told them: “All of you had sufficient intelligence to know that the way to deal with violent behaviour is to report it, not to escalate it.”
He added it ‘beggars belief’ that the offenders decided to deal with the victim in such a way.
“You armed yourselves as if for gang warfare and set out to look for him, and you found him minding his own business on a Sunday afternoon.
“You brought the most extreme violence to quiet suburban streets in Rugby. It is no exaggeration to say that you left him for dead, and for a while he was in fact clinically dead.
“All of you could have been facing a life sentence for murder – and you would have, if it had not been for the swift and skilful attention he received.
“I know this sort of behaviour was out of character for all of you. I also know that you have now reverted to type. You have insight into how utterly abhorrent your behaviour was.
“But there are significant aggravating features. This was a quiet residential street on a Sunday afternoon. Householders and bystanders found themselves caught up in this, either as witnesses or fist-aiders.
“Next, there is the utter lawlessness on display, the complete lack of regard for the norms any citizen would expect of society. It is shocking violence which no society could tolerate without condign punishment.
“And there is the nature of the attack. This was a cowardly form of violence, three of you armed and attacking one unarmed man.”