St Albans violent crime: police welcome jailing of teenagers

The four teenagers targeted individuals who were drug dealers.

The four teenagers targeted individuals who were drug dealers. - Credit: Tinnakorn Jorruang/iStock/Getty

Police have welcomed the tough sentences handed down to the four teenagers involved in a series of serious knife point offences spanning 10 months across St Albans and London Colney.

Kai Henry-Smith, Harley Kavanagh, Isaac Wallace-Greaves and Kobi Nelson were all jailed at St Albans Crown Court today following a police initiative codenamed Operation Luge.

The defendants had been convicted on July 22 of conspiracy to commit Section 18 grievous bodily harm (GBH) and conspiracy to rob between December 9 2019 and September 30 2020.

Henry-Smith also pleaded guilty to a section 18 wounding with intent and possession of a bladed article (a machete) that occurred in Grindcobbe in St Albans on November 4.

St Albans Det Insp Ady Lysak said: “These offences were predetermined, organised and executed with the goal of trying to exert their authority over drug operations being run in St Albans. This gang were inflicting serious injuries at knife point and stealing from their victims.

“These teenagers were dangerous, not just to others, but also to themselves. They arranged drug meets in residential streets armed with machetes and swords, which was seen by families, including children.”

The investigation was overseen by Det Sgt Tom Evans, who said: “There was a genuine and significant escalation in violence which was so dramatic that there was a real and significant risk that someone may have been killed.

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"We are thrilled that these individuals are now behind bars and that residents in St Albans and London Colney can go about their daily business without the fear of violence hanging over them.

“It was one of the biggest police responses to a series of incidents in St Albans.”

The Operation Luge investigation last year sucked resources from St Albans, including intervention, the Local Crime Unit and Community Safety Unit, Safer Neighbourhood Team with additional county resources to tackle the unprecedented violence in the St Albans district. Partner agencies including St Albans district council plus the youth offending team were involved in the response.

Det Sgt Evans added: “The investigation was unusual because the indictment is conspiracy (to commit GBH and robbery) rather than a list of charges. This was because we were unable to prove which teenager was responsible for the offences, but we knew they were all involved.”

Officer in the case, Det Con Jody Perrin, said: “This violence affected the whole of St Albans and London Colney. It was complicated as we had unsupportive victims and witnesses, who were petrified to give us any information, whilst drug dealing was happening outside their homes - but they were also complaining that we weren’t doing enough.”

The boys, who were aged between 16 and 18 at the time of offending, met at Verulam School in St Albans.

St Albans neighbourhood Insp Andy Wiseman said: “There is no place for violence in this district. I hope the custodial sentence that these teenagers have been given today reassures the community who were unfortunate to witness violence or see weapons in the city during 2020.

"Despite COVID-19 delays, we are determined to bring offenders before the courts and make them accountable for their actions.”

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