Four jailed for murder of Joseph Riches in Stourbridge

Two men and two teenagers have today been given life sentences following the murder of 16-year-old Joseph Riches, who was murdered in Stourbridge town centre.

Joseph, from Bartley Green, was in Stourbridge with friends on Saturday 15 July, but for reasons only known to themselves, were intent on causing trouble with another group of teens who were in the town at the same time. Joseph spotted the group and ran up to them at the bottom of the High Street.

He attacked two of them with a screwdriver before trying to get in the car with his friends as they pulled up alongside him. But Joseph was unable to get in the car and ran off along Coventry Street as the opposing group gave chase.

One of the group had pulled a concealed machete from his clothing and three of them caught up with Joseph and pushed him into a hedge. They attacked him with the blade causing what would become a fatal blow to his chest as a fourth teen joined them. Joseph managed to get to his feet and get in the car with his friends, who had driven up Coventry Street to meet him.

Sadly his injuries soon proved fatal and he was found in the car which had been abandoned almost six miles away in Orchard Close, Rowley Regis. Police investigations progressed swiftly and, after the machete was found by a member of the public under a fire escape in Stourbridge High Street, and arrested 19-year-old Dray Simmonds in Dudley the following day.

A short time later, 19-year-old Joshua Edgington, Corey Burkitt, now 17 and Leroy Robinson, aged 16, presented themselves at a police station. All four were arrested on suspicion of murder.

This week, a jury at Coventry Crown Court found all four guilty of Joseph’s murder. Even though Simmonds had inflicted the fatal blow, the other three were complicit in the attack on Joseph and were found guilty by joint enterprise.

Simmonds, from Dixon Green Road, Dudley, and Edgington, from Hallewell Road, Birmingham, both now 20, were given life sentences and ordered to serve at least 21 years behind bars.

Burkitt, of Queens Road, Smethwick, was given a life sentence and ordered to spend at least 15 years behind bars, while Robinson, of Kew Drive, Dudley, was given a life sentence and ordered to service at least 15 years and six months. They were sentenced at Coventry Crown Court.

Joseph’s mother, Sarah, is still trying to come to terms with her son’s death. She said: “Joseph was an amazing young man who had the world at his fingertips.

"He was kind, funny, caring, loyal and compassionate. His murder has left a huge hole in the lives of his family and friends and he will be forever loved and missed by us all. I will never forgive and never forget.”

Detective Chief Inspector Laura Harrison, from the force’s homicide unit, added: “This is another young life lost to knife crime.

“Only those involved will know the reason for the attack, but no doubt it was not worth the price of a life, or the lengthy sentences that those convicted are facing.”


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