Seven men have been sentenced in connection with the murder of Luke O’Connell, following an in-depth investigation.

Luke O’Connell died after being stabbed following a three-vehicle crash in Gammons Lane, Watford, on August 31 last year.

During the seven-week trial at Reading Crown Court, the jury was told how police were called just before 3am to the crash and fight.

Officers attended and found a man aged in his 20s, later confirmed as Luke O’Connell, with stab wounds. He was taken to hospital where he later died.

 

The scene of the stabbing in Gammons Lane, Watford

The scene of the stabbing in Gammons Lane, Watford

 

Today, (September 16) seven men were sentenced after they were arrested and charged with various offences, which they all pleaded not guilty to.

• Shahnavaz Azad, aged 29, from Watford was found guilty of murder and section 18 assault. He was sentenced to life with minimum 27 years, plus five years concurrent for the assault.

• Hamza Azad, aged 24, of Nicholas Close, Watford was found guilty of murder and section 18 assault. He was sentenced to life with minimum 22 years, plus five years concurrent for the assault.

• Aamir Mustafa, aged 24, of St Georges Road, Watford was found guilty of murder and section 18 assault. He was sentenced to life with minimum 22 years, plus five years concurrent for the assault.

• Mohammed Haroon Azad, aged 23, of Nicholas Close, Watford was found guilty of manslaughter and section 20 assault. He was sentenced to nine years for manslaughter, plus two years concurrent for the assault.

• Mohammed Hamza Shah, aged 21, of Hagden Lane, Watford was found guilty of manslaughter and section 20 assault. He was sentenced to nine years for manslaughter, plus two years concurrent for the assault.

• Umar Sarfraz, aged 23, of Whippendell Road, Watford was found guilty of manslaughter and section 20 assault. He was sentenced to nine years for manslaughter, plus two years concurrent for the assault.

• Mohammed Raja Azad, aged 50, of Nicholas Close, Watford was found guilty of perverting the course of justice. He was sentenced to 28 months.

A further man, Mohammed Hussnain, aged 25, of St Georges Road, Watford was acquitted.

Four other people are due to appear at court at a later date in connection to the incident.

 

The scene of the stabbing in Gammons Lane, Watford

The scene of the stabbing in Gammons Lane, Watford

 

During the trial, the court heard Luke was a back-seat passenger of a VW Golf being driven by another man. The pair had an ongoing dispute with a group of men which came to a head on this night.

A car chase ensued which resulted in the collision.

The group of men are said to have used weapons to attack the VW Golf and the men inside.

Luke was stabbed and suffered a wound to the chest which proved fatal. The second man was also assaulted and stabbed.

His family issued a statement saying: “Losing Luke has devastated our family as well as his friends, who called him Peanut.

“He was the joker of the pack and we all miss him every second, of every day.

“As a family we would like to thank Detective Inspector Justine Jenkins and her team and QC Miss Bex and her junior Mr Bisgrove for all their hard work and support over the past two years.”

 

The scene of the stabbing in Gammons Lane, Watford.

The scene of the stabbing in Gammons Lane, Watford.

 

Detective Inspector Justine Jenkins, of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: “Our thoughts are with Luke’s family and I would like to thank them for their support during what has been a complex investigation. Delays to court proceedings, due to the pandemic, have made the two years since Luke’s death incredibly difficult for them and the dignity they have shown throughout is remarkable.

“I hope the guilty verdicts can bring them a sense of justice, although I appreciate that nothing will bring Luke back or ease the pain that they have felt since Luke’s life was so cruelly ended in horrific circumstances.”