A judge at the Old Bailey has apologised to the family of Tashaûn Aird, after sentencing of the three teenagers found guilty of killing him was delayed today because the probation service has still not completed a report into one of them who is said to be a victim of "modern slavery".
Lady Justice Rafferty said it was "extremely regrettable" the report had not been completed in the last five weeks because adjournment would cause "understandable distress and frustration" - however it was necessary to sentence all three defendants together.
"I have asked an explanation from probation privation services," said HHJ Rafferty. "I am confident it will be forthcoming in seven days."
Tashaûn, a music producer known as Dotz, was knifed nine times in the chest in Somerford Grove, Stoke Newington, on May 1, and died at the scene.
A 15-year-old and a 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and Romaine Williams-Reid, 18, of Romford, stood trial for his murder, while a fourth defendant, Cayden Stuart, died in custody aged 16 while awaiting trial.
On December 19 a jury at the Old Bailey found the 15-year-old defendant guilty of murder and his co-defendants guilty of manslaughter by a majority of 11 to one.
The two youths were also found guilty of wounding a 16-year-old boy with intent and Williams-Reid was found guilty of the lesser charge of wounding.
While pre-sentence reports have been completed for the two boys, the one for Williams-Reid - who is said to have autism and a history of convictions for knife possession - remains outstanding.
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Barristers for all three argued that their clients wished to be sentenced regardless.
But in the case of Williams-Reid this depended on the judge finding him "not dangerous".
"There's a distinction to be found in his case," said his barrister. "He is a victim of what's now known as modern slavery.
"His behaviour in court and how he presented at the witness box, the autism and his age and immaturity must be borne in mind before deciding dangerousness.
"He's not a young man who inflicted any harm on any person," she said, but added: "I don't for a moment discount the jury verdict in the sentence they found against him."
However HHJ Rafferty said the report was necessary to "assess the issue of dangerousness".
"He has a history of offending. Prosecution invites me to defer the matter," she said.
"It was a group offence. They all face significant custodial terms.
"It's regrettable but all offenders will have to be as together. I can only give the court's apology to the family."