Two men who admitted their involvement in the lead up to the murder of Preston teenager Jon-Jo Highton have each been jailed for seven years.
University student Minhaj Musa, who drove one of the killers to the scene of the attack in St Stephen’s Road, Deepdale, and Mohammed Sabbah Dal, who chased after Jon-Jo, 18, and assaulted him in the moments before the fatal attack, each admitted conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm with intent.
Both men had previously been tried for murder but the jury at Preston Crown Court was unable to reach verdicts in their cases and as a result of their pleas, the murder charge was dropped by the CPS.
Matthew Hooper, prosecuting, said that Musa drove both Dal and Zaahid Patel to St Stephen’s Road with five other men arriving in a separate vehicle.
Musa remained in his car but Dal, armed with a brick and a piece of wood, chased after Jon-Jo and caught him. Patel and the occupants of the second vehicle then carried out the attack. Jon-Jo suffered as number of slash injuries including a deep cut to the neck and died at the scene.
Mr Hooper said: “Dal was the first to leave and the first to start anything. These defendants did not intend to cause death but death was the result.
“Musa led the second vehicle to Jon-Jo Highton and Dal prevented Jon-Jo Highton from making an escape. The actions of these two men were significant in terms of responsibility for the ultimate outcome of the attack.”
Dal, 20, of Alice Square, Preston, and Musa, 21, of Deepdale Road, Preston, were both friends of Patel and were involved in his drug dealing operation and the incident, said Mr Hooper, arose out of a dispute between rival drug gangs.
Mr Justice Goss, passing sentence at Lincoln Crown Court, said: “This is yet another example of the tragic consequences that can follow from involvement in the illegal supply of drugs and the misery that it brings upon all those associated and involved in it including family members who reap the consequences of that dreadful trade.
“This was a planned attack with weapons to cause really serious injury committed by a group of men against the background of drug gang rivalry. It was a short, brutal and savage attack on a defenceless man.”
Adam Davis QC, for Musa, a psychology student at the University of Central Lancashire, told the court: “He had no idea that death was a likely outcome of what was planned by the others. He had no idea of the type of weapons that were in the other car.
“He comes from a thoroughly decent background and a decent family.”
Ben Nolan QC, for Dal, said that throughout the earlier trial his client had always admitted what he had done.
“He is a young man who is wracked with remorse. He never tried to hide what he had done or his participation as it is now admitted.”
At the end of the hearing Mr Justice Goss praised Jon-Jo’s mother Tracey Highton for the “immensely dignified way in which she behaved” during the earlier trial despite what he described as provocation and other events that were going on. He said: “She has the thanks of the court for the way she and others behaved in relation to what must have been an awful experience for her.”
Earlier this year, six men received life sentence after being convicted of the murder of Jon-Jo Highton. Three others were jailed for assisting an offender. Two more people are due to be sentenced for perverting the course of justice on July 31.
Jon-Jo’s mum Tracey said: “I would like to make it clear that Jon-Jo was not in any way involved with the incident that took place in the early hours of Saturday morning, that I believe started the planned attack that resulted in our son losing his life. Jon-Jo was set upon alone and because he was friends with the people involved.
“No human being deserved the brutal attack that our son endured.
“Our son’s last words I believe were, ‘Let’s talk bro’ and these words will stay in our heads forever.
“Some justice has been done but our son, brother, grandson and Taylor’s daddy is not coming back.
“The night Jon-Jo died part of us died too. He is missed by so many.”
She thanked the police officers who worked on the case.
Previous stories from the murder trial of Jon-Jo Highton