Guilty: Armani Mitchell | Image West Midlands Polcie
Guilty: Armani Mitchell | Image West Midlands Polcie

An 18 year old man from Northfield has today been found guilty of the murder of upcoming grime music star Depzman.

At Birmingham Crown Court today, Armani Mitchell, formerly of The Green, Northfield, was sentenced to serve a minimum of 18 years to life after a jury found him guilty of the fatal stabbing of Joshua Ribera.

Joshua, 18, died after being stabbed during a disturbance outside TC’s nightclub in Selly Oak last September. Both teens had been attending a memorial event for Kyle “Shamz” Sheehan, a Bartley Green teen who died after being stabbed 12 months earlier.

A jury was told that, while at the event, Mitchell became “enraged” when he saw Joshua with his arm around the mother of his 17 month old child. Scuffles between the two men escalated throughout the night until Mitchell was removed from the venue by security after he threatened to stab Joshua.

The court heard that Mitchell came back and managed to re-enter the club. He then found Joshua and the pair went outside together. CCTV footage released today by West Midlands Police shows the pair being held apart by a key witness.

The witness described how, at around 10.40pm, Mitchell pulled out the knife and lunged at Joshua, striking him in the chest with a flick knife. He collapsed against a car on Coronation Road as Mitchell ran away. [cont below]

Party-goers performed first aid before paramedics tended to Joshua and took him to hospital where, after undergoing emergency surgery, he died in early hours of the following morning.

Mitchell was arrested after handing himself in to police later that day. He admitted attacking Joshua but claimed he never intended to kill him.

According to the Birmingham Mail: “Passing sentence Judge William Davis QC said “Your criminal activity really only lasted for about 30 seconds, from the time it took to leave the club, when you took out the knife to the moment that you used it […] I accept there was a lack of premeditation.”

Investigating officer, Detective Inspector Gary Plant, said: “Joshua Ribera needlessly lost his life, he was just 18 years of age and had a very promising future in the music industry; he had everything to live for. Armani Mitchell, who was also 18, has today been convicted of his murder, after inflicting one single stab wound to the heart.

“This murder has impacted greatly upon a lot of people, not only the friends and family of Joshua, but those of Armani too. Both families are devastated, as both have lost someone close to them. Albeit in different ways, both families are victims to knife crime.

“I hope that in time the pain that is being felt from Joshua’s death will ease, but for certain it will not totally go away.

Carrying weapons: “not ’hard’ … not big … not clever…”

DI Plant said: “Armani said he carried the knife for protection. Some people believe that it is big and clever to carry weapons and believe their friends consider them ’hard’. Let me say this − if you carry weapons, you are not ’hard’, you are not big and you are not clever, you are stupid and run the risk of ruining not only your own life but the lives of those closest to you too.

“The message is clear and I hope that people can see the pain and hurt that this has caused and can learn from it. Just stop and think about what you are doing. Armani didn’t and will have to live the rest of his life with the consequences of taking Joshua’s life and quite rightly serve a long prison sentence for doing so. Make sure you don’t go the same way.”

Joshua Ribera - "kind-hearted, full of life"
Joshua Ribera – “kind-hearted, full of life”

“Amazing and special person..”

In a Victim Impact Statement Joshua’s mum Alison Cope said: “I have never known anyone loved as much as Josh, he was truly a genuine and unique person, so kind hearted, so full of life and he had blossomed into a beautiful young man that anyone would be very, very proud of.

“He was an amazing and special person; no one had the right to take him from this world as he didn’t want to go, he wanted to live, to love and to be successful. He was ambitious and truly beautiful inside and out. I loved him with all my heart and soul and now my heart and soul are broken without him.

“Josh loved life and had matured so much in the last 12 months; he knew exactly where he wanted to be with his life and to be an honest positive member of society. He loved living and loved his life, loved spoiling people and loved seeing the world and that was taken from him because of jealousy.”

Detective Superintendent Mark Payne, from Force CID, said: “It is desperately sad that this is now the second time in as many months I’ve had to speak about a young man needlessly losing his life after being stabbed but it only strengthens our resolve to spread the anti-knife crime message.

“This idea that people carry knives for protection is ludicrous − Joshua was not attacking Mitchell at the time he was killed, he was unarmed and effectively alone, but Mitchell took out the knife and stabbed him at point-blank range.

“The reality is that as soon as someone picks up a knife and takes it out on to the street with them, the stakes are raised and lives are inevitably put at risk. More often than not, two lives are taken − that of the victim, who ends up dead and the killer, who faces a lifetime in prison.”

In 2012-13 there were 1,480 knife crime offences reported across the West Midlands Police area – that’s down almost a third from the previous 12 months and down more than 75 per cent on a decade ago.

Det Supt. Payne added: “I understand statistics can feel intangible to victims’ families at times like this: these people’s lives have been irreversibly changed. However, fatal stabbings are not commonplace in the West Midlands and should be viewed in context; they are shocking but they are also mercifully rare.”

Read more:

Posts on Joshua Ribera

Posts on Kyle Sheehan

For the facts on knife crime in the West Midlands visit:www.west-midlands.police.uk/crime-reduction/violence/knife-crime/index.asp

Read more on the Birmingham Mail web site

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