Lee Baxter stabbing: Three jailed for life over Snapchat drug deal murder
- Credit: PA
Three drug dealers who murdered father-of-four Lee Baxter in a sham deal arranged on Snapchat have all been jailed for life.
Mr Baxter had expected to buy £5,000 of cannabis on October 9, 2020, when he drove to an alleyway with the cash to Pavillion Terrace in Newbury Park.
When it became clear that Syd Goss, Jermaine Forrester, and Ryan Graham were not bringing the drugs, Mr Baxter began to walk away - at which point he was attacked, stabbed multiple times and robbed by them.
As Goss, Forrester and Graham made their getaway in a car, a man who had accompanied Mr Baxter and passers-by tried to save his life.
But despite emergency crews performing surgery at the scene, he died almost immediately due to significant blood loss.
Goss, 22, of Huntsman Road, Ilford; Forrester, 25, of Tolbut Court, in Lennox Close, Romford; and Graham, 27, of Farnham Road in Goodmayes, Ilford were all convicted of his murder following a six-week trial at the Old Bailey on May 18.
Today (June 10), Goss and Forrester were sentenced to a minimum 29-year life sentence in jail and Graham to a minimum 27-year term.
Sentencing the trio, Judge Anthony Leonard QC said: "You have all been found guilty of murder, but during the trial each of you denied any involvement in the murder and were willing to shift the blame onto your co-defendants.
"I have reached the conclusion you were ready to use knives...from the moment you set out that evening, if the need arose."
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He continued: "There are conflicting indications as to whether you set out that night to rob Lee Baxter of £5,000 without any interest in providing cannabis in return, or whether at some later stage you hatched a plan to take his money by force.
"You clearly went out armed with knives that night, which indicates you were ready for trouble, whether that was to be a drugs deal or a robbery."
Judge Leonard said he was sure Goss, who he dubbed the "ringleader", was probably armed with a knife, but Forrester had been the "principle stabber".
He added: "I do not know Graham if you had a knife, but in terms of sentence it makes little difference because you knew your co-defendants were armed.
"Your function was to hold Lee Baxter on the ground in a headlock while he was being stabbed and you were there to help search Lee Baxter for his money."
An award of £750 was made to an airline pilot who had helped to save Mr Baxter's life, who has since suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the incident, and was left unable to work for some time, the court heard.
"I blame myself for not saving him and I should have done better," he said in a statement that was read out in court.
Det Insp Adam Callaghan, who led the murder investigation, said: “Lee Baxter was not a master criminal, he was not adept at arranging drug deals and nor should the circumstances in the lead up to his death cast any shadow on the utter senselessness of it.
“Lee was a victim of a terrible crime and he deserves justice.
"Lee was a loving father who lost his life in the most violent of ways. My thoughts are with his family and friends at what I can only imagine is a very difficult time.
“Goss, Forrester and Graham planned to rob Lee and they were willing to use violence to carry out their plan.
"Lee did not travel to Pavillion Terrace prepared for violence. Lee was walking away from the deal when these three men decided to launch their fatal attack.
“I want to thank all of the witnesses who spoke to police about what they saw that day. You didn’t turn your back on Lee and were a vital part of our investigation to get justice for him."