Savage teen thugs chopped off man’s nose in battle to become town’s drug lords

Four teenagers have been jailed for more than 40 years in total following a 10-month reign of terror on a Hertfordshire city.

The teens used an “armoury of weapons” to inflict “devastating injuries” on their targets – including chopping off one man’s nose and fingers with a machete.

All four gang members were charged with conspiracy to commit GBH and robbery since the police couldn’t be certain which of them were responsible for the attacks.

Kai Henry-Smith, 18, Harley Kavanagh, 17, Issac Wallace-Greaves, 18, and Kobe Nelson, 19, carried out a series of violent robberies after becoming pals at school in St Albans, Hertfordshire.

A man in his 20s had the tip of his nose and fingers sliced off with a machete during one of the attacks which took place in Cotlandswick, London Colney, on 13 January 2020.

The gang, who were trying to take over drug operations in St Albans, also carried out two robberies in December 2019 and another in September 2020.

A wide range of horrifying weapons including several large blades which the gang used to intimidate local residents were discovered during a police investigation, dubbed Operation Luge.

Sentencing Kavanagh and Wallace-Greaves at St Alban's Crown Court, Judge Richard Foster said: "You behaved like a savage when you carried out that merciless attack on the victim at Cotlandswick.

"It is hard to understand how one human being can behave in such a way to another.

"The victim suffered devastating injuries.

"These included multiple lacerations from the forehead extending to the back of the head, a fractured skull, the amputation of the tip of his nose, partial amputation of the middle finger and the full amputation of the left ring finger."

Detective Inspector 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 was inflicting serious injuries at knifepoint 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."

Detective Constable Jody Perrin, added: "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 through a series of Criminal Behaviour Orders and Community Protection Notices, police were able to prevent them from meeting up.

Detective Sergeant Tom Evans said: "The investigation was unusual because the indictment is a 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."

All four defendants, who were aged between 16 and 18 at the time of the attacks, were jailed on Friday, October 29.

Three of them received 12-year prison sentences with a further five years on license. While Nelson, of Bedford, received a six-year custodial sentence for a robbery on 21 December 2019 in Artisan Crescent, St Albans.

Judge Foster said: "The armoury of weapons and other items found during the police investigation is truly horrifying, including multiple large knives.

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"It took some astute police work to link together a number of what would have seemed initially as separate criminal incidents in this city of St Albans.

"I commend the police investigation team – particularly the officer in the case, DC Perrin."

Henry-Smith, of St Albans, had previously pleaded guilty to a section 18 wounding with intent and possession of a bladed article – machete which happened in Grindcobbe in St Albans on 4 November 2020. His sentence will run concurrently.

Neighbourhood Inspector Andy Wiseman said: "There is no place for violence in this district.

"I hope the custodial sentences that these teenagers have been given 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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