BY JAMES TWOMEY
A man has been given a life sentence for the 2018 murder of 15-year-old Jay Hughes in Bellingham.
Jay’s mother, Cindy Hughes, said she was proud of her son and “loved his zest for life”.
Nyron Baptiste, 18, was found guilty of Jay’s murder and sentenced to a minimum of 19 years, he had not previously been named due to his age but Baptiste has now turned 18.
The judge in her sentencing remarks stated that she was in no doubt that the “brazen, quick and ruthless attack” was planned and that Baptiste had intended to kill the victim.
On November 1, 2018, Jay was waiting for a friend outside a chicken shop in Randlesdown Road, Bellingham.
While he waited, a young man Jay knew approached and began to speak to him when a black Ford Galaxy pulled up to the junction of Brookhowse Road with Randlesdown Road.
Three males, armed with large machete-type knives, got out of the car and ran towards Jay and his acquaintance.
The person Jay was talking to ran off and was pursued by two of the armed males.
Jay did not run and CCTV showed him innocently waiting outside the shop. It was at this point that the defendant approached Jay and proceeded to stab him once in the left side of his upper body.
A witness later told police they heard the person who stabbed Jay say, “I got one” and that Jay did not say or do anything to provoke the attack.
After stabbing Jay, the suspect ran back towards to vehicle.
The other two armed suspects who had chased, but not caught, the other boy then ran back to the car, which reversed and drove off at speed.
After being stabbed, Jay staggered into the chicken shop, where customers began first aid.
Emergency services were called at around 5.20pm and Jay was taken to King’s College Hospital, but the stab wound had pierced his heart and he was pronounced dead at 8.15pm.
CCTV from the chicken shop filmed the car used by the defendant which was found in Linden Grove, Nunhead.
Forensic analysis found Jay’s blood on the back seat of the vehicle.
Jay’s mother, Cindy Hughes, said: “Jay was my first son and was very special to me. I was proud of the young man he was becoming and proud to call him my son.
“I loved his zest for life, his confidence, his positivity, his fantastic sense of humour, his constant smile and most of all his kind heart.
“We shared some great times together, joking and laughing as he reminded me so much of myself at his age.
“He was just a normal teenager but was always respectful, which was a quality he also tried to instill in his younger brothers.
“I have so many special memories of Jay. Even from a baby, he always had something in his mouth. From a dummy as a baby to bottles of drink, straws – even held his headphones in his mouth.
“He loved playing with his toys, especially his Ben 10. I remember teaching him to ride a bike, so well. He persisted until he could do it and never got off the rest of his life. He went everywhere on it. Even one of his teachers’ eulogies referred to ‘that blessed bike’.
“During the past nine months I have been through, and am still going through, a range of emotions – shock, devastation, confusion, anger, denial. I am so empty and sad inside. It is heart-wrenching. It is like a part of me has died as well.
“Nyron Jean Baptise, you need to realise that you have changed our lives forever, and that we are the ones left serving a life sentence.
“My only hope for you is that you can be truly rehabilitated and return to society as a better person.
One day if you have children of your own, you may begin to understand the devastating impact your actions had on the lives of so many people.”
Jay’s grandmother, Sophia Sewell, said: “There’s a lot I want to say to the defendant, but wouldn’t be suitable, however I’d like to say to Nyron Jean Baptise: This was unacceptable and you will no doubt be in prison for a long time.
“I hope you use some of that time to reflect on the pain that you’ve caused my whole family.
“Maybe when you have children you might understand and regret that you took an innocent life, and for what? Why?
“We ourselves will never understand and we will always be grieving.”
Detective Sergeant Anthony Atkin, who works in homicide department of specialist crime, said: “Jay Hughes was just a 15-year-old boy who was simply buying food and waiting for a friend to spend the evening at a youth club; this could have been anyone’s child that evening.
“What Jay did not know, was that at that moment Nyron Jean-Baptiste had armed himself with a large knife and set out with others intent on violence.
“CCTV captured the moments as Nyron arrived in a car. Jay was standing outside the shop with another, who was chased off.
“Nyron approached a defenceless Jay, who had not provoked or sought to flee. I doubt that Jay truly understood what was about to happen.”