Beds, Herts & Bucks

Azaan Kaleem trial: Four sentenced for teen's 'calculated' death

Harrison Searle and Reece Bliss-McGrath Image copyright Bedfordshire Police
Image caption Harrison Searle and Reece Bliss-McGrath were both sentenced for their part in the fatal stabbing of Azaan Kaleem

Four men have been sentenced for their part in the "calculated" fatal stabbing of an 18-year-old.

Azaan Kaleem died in hospital following a disagreement in a Luton street.

Two men aged 18 and 19, who cannot be named, were given life sentences after being convicted of murder.

Harrison Searle, 18, of Derwent Road, Luton, who was also convicted of murder, has been sentenced to 16 years in jail.

Reece Bliss-McGrath, 20, who was found guilty of manslaughter, was sentenced to 11 years.

Image copyright Roseann Taylor
Image caption Azaan Kaleem, 18, died in hospital two days later after being stabbed in Hartsfield Road in Luton on 22 March

During sentencing at the Old Bailey the Judge, Mr Justice Popplewell, described the unnamed 18-year-old as the leader, and he must serve a minimum of 18 years.

He said all four men had searched out Mr Kaleem for retaliation, and they all supported each other in a group attack which lasted 20 seconds.

Bliss-McGrath, of Exton Avenue, Luton, must serve half his sentence in custody and the other on licence.

Roseann Taylor, Mr Kaleem's mother said: "It was a calculated attack. They knew who they were going for, but they didn't know each other. They were like a pack of animals.

"It's not just my life that has been ruined, their families lives have been ruined.

"If it was down to me, it would be life all the way. I just have to leave it in God's hands but nothing will be truly enough."

Image copyright Bedfordshire Police
Image caption Police said Azaan Kaleem known as AJ died from the stab wounds after the group of four men "rounded on him" when he walking with his friend and girlfriend

Det Insp Dani Bailey, who led the investigation, said: "We aren't talking about 'gang warfare' or rivals fighting; this was simply a group of boys, unknown to their victim, who went out of their way to search for Azaan and murder him.

"Azaan offered no aggression or retaliation whatsoever."

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