Teen cyclist who used zombie knife to smash up car spared jailed

A teenage cyclist who used a massive zombie knife to smash up car has been spared jailed after a judge heard he was kidnapped weeks earlier.

Shocking dash cam footage showed Joshua Gardner, then 17, brandish the enormous blade on a busy south London road then launch the furious attack.

Dashcam footage shown to a jury captured the moment he repeatedly hit at the windows and doors as he threatened the driver, aged 19, who got out and ran away.

But an Old Bailey judge told Gardner he avoided jail because he carried the knife following a ten-day kidnap ordeal in which he was held at gunpoint.

Gardner, from Thornton Heath, south London, was found guilty of attempted GBH and also admitted affray and having an offensive weapon on London Road, Croydon, on May 30.

Judge Anuja Dhir QC said: “There was an incident of kidnapping between about March 26 and April 2, so a relatively short period of time before you committed this offence.

“You were bundled into a car, and threatened with a gun because of a drug debt that a friend of yours had run up.

“You were then taken to a place referred to as a trap house for ten days and you were made to sell drugs to work off the debt.”

The kidnapping, said to be by a gang of men in their 20s, “reduced your culpability”, she told Gardner.

But she branded the attack “menacing” and said he would otherwise have faced jail.

She said: “The offending related to a violent incident that took place on London Road in Croydon.

“From start to finish it lasted 43 seconds and nobody was injured. Nonetheless, it was a frightening incident.

“You attacked a car in a threatening and menacing way.

“The incident was caught on camera and the footage was played to the jury. It showed the extent of the violence you used.”

Judge Dhir said only the police officer in the case gave evidence during the trial but it was “clear” Gardner knew the victim.

She added: “You were seen to attack the car with your feet, your fists and with a zombie knife that you produced from your waistband.”

Gardner was in breach of a youth rehabilitation order for an attempted robbery at the time of the attack, she said.

Judge Dhir said: “The facts of that offence are that you approached a schoolboy, you demanded his phone and money and you had with you at the time a pocket knife.”

She said his response to rehabilitation after the attempted robbery in 2017 was another reason he avoided jail.

The judge said: “Carrying a knife of that kind in a public place, concealed in your waistband as it was, is a very serious matter.”

He was given two years for the attempted GBH, one year for the affray and one year for possession of the knife, to run concurrently.

The sentence was suspended for two years and he was also told to carry out a rehabilitation order and 150 hours of unpaid work.

Gardner will also be subject to an overnight 12-hour curfew between 7am and 7pm for nine months.

Detective Constable Aaron Champion said: “The footage that was circulated widely in the media, which showed Gardner waving around a ‘zombie’ style knife understandably shocked both the communities of Croydon and the wider public.

“He had decided that day for whatever reason that he would attack this man and brazenly pulled out this knife in front of horrified members of the public, some of whom had finished work or had collected their children from school.

“His conviction and sentence send out the message that the police will not tolerate the mind-set Gardner seems to have adopted – that the casual use of a knife is justified to settle even minor differences.”

By Lewis Pennock

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