Postcode gang members to serve over 20 years after murdering two youths at party
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Five males who murdered two teenagers while ambushing a birthday party with machetes to attack a rival postcode gang will each serve at least 22 years behind bars.
Childhood friends Dom Ansah and Ben Gillham-Rice, both 17, were stabbed to death at a house in the Emerson Valley area of Milton Keynes in October 2019.
Two others were left with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
On Wednesday, Earl Bevans, 23, Charlie Chandler, 23, Clayton Barker, 20, and two previously unnamed teenagers appeared at Luton Crown Court to be sentenced.
The two 17-year-olds can now be named as Ben Potter and Jamie Chandler, the brother of Charlie, after Mr Justice Spencer lifted reporting restrictions following an application from the PA news agency.
The judge said Barker, Potter and Jamie Chandler were “enthusiastic” members of the B3 postcode gang and that Charlie Chandler and Bevans, who were not members, closely associated with them.
He said the B3 gang members, named after the MK3 postcode in West Bletchley, planned the revenge attack after being told that members of the rival M4 gang were at the party.
The judge said: “The all-too-familiar background to these senseless and tragic killings was rivalry between gangs of young men, and the culture of violence and knives promoted on social media.”
Barker, Potter and the Chandler brothers had denied both murders and two counts of wounding with intent, but were unanimously convicted by the jury after around nine hours of deliberation.
Mr Justice Spencer gave each adult defendant a life sentence, with minimum terms of 27 or 28 years, and the two teenagers received sentences of detention with a minimum term of 22 years.
He said: “The five of you gatecrashed a 17th birthday party at a house in Milton Keynes, armed with knives and machetes, and with masks to conceal your identity.”
The court heard Ben was stabbed six times in the living room “whilst the party was in full flow, in the presence of several teenage boys and girls”.
Mr Justice Spencer said Dom was subjected to an “appallingly brutal sustained attack” and was stabbed nearly 40 times and later chopped with a machete, adding: “He was chased, running quite literally for his life.”
The court had heard of an incident when Potter was stripped and assaulted in woodland when he was 14, and jurors were also told Jamie Chandler had been stabbed months before the murders.
Both assaults were carried out by members of the M4 gang, of which Dom was said to be a member.
The judge said: “I have no doubt that these two incidents fuelled the desire on the part of members of B3 to have their revenge on members of M4 if and when a suitable opportunity arose.”
Addressing Potter, Mr Justice Spencer said: “I have no doubt that your motivation related to the traumatic experience of the assault you had suffered yourself at the hands of M4 two years earlier. But that did not begin to justify your participation in these murders.”
Mr Justice Spencer said Barker, who played a leading role on the night, was “revelling” in what he had done.
He continued: “You were steeped in the gang culture of B3 to the point of obsession, preoccupied with violence and knives.”
Addressing Jamie Chandler, the judge said: “Despite your young age and good character you took a particularly prominent part in these stabbings.
“You were an enthusiastic member of B3 and subscribed to all it stood for.”
He added Chandler sounded “calm and self-assured” while ordering a taxi for the group to the party, despite knowing what would happen when they arrived.
The judge said the attack would have caused “untold trauma” to those who witnessed it.
Charlie Chandler, of Fitzwilliam Street, Bletchley, received life with a minimum of 27 years in prison, while Barker, of Surrey Road, Bletchley, was handed a life sentence with a 28-year minimum.
Bevans, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty at the start of the trial and was given life with a minimum of 27 years.
Potter, of Chiswick Close, Westcroft, and Chandler, of Woodrush Close, Beanhill, were given a 22-year minimum term in detention.
All five were also given concurrent sentences for the two counts of wounding with intent.
Speaking outside court after the sentencing, Ben’s father Jason Rice said: “Life without Ben for the last 15 months has been absolutely devastating for all of our family and his friends.
“We now have to try and carry on with our lives without Ben, it seems impossible and we don’t know where to even start.
“No sentence would ever bring our Ben back, but a message needs to be sent out to anyone who carries a knife that if they are found with a knife on them they are going to prison for a long term.”
Dom’s mother Tracey Ansah added: “While the sentences today bring justice, they don’t bring comfort as we will continue to live a life sentence without Dom.”