A teenage boy has been found guilty of stabbing a 15-year-old to death in a knife fight that was filmed on Snapchat.
Zane Smart was stabbed in the chest by a 17-year-old boy near a canal in Pendeford, in Wolverhampton, on May 27 2022.
The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty today (22 February 2023) by a jury following a trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court of the manslaughter of Zane Smart following the fight. He was acquitted of the murder charge.
On 27 May 2022, the defendant encountered Zane along a canal towpath known as Reapers Walk.
The killer became “irate” that Zane was riding a bike nearby, following a dispute several months earlier. The pair arranged to meet for a fight after exchanging messages on Instagram and a court heard the killing was then filmed on Snapchat.
Today (22 February) the teenager, who cannot be named, was found guilty of manslaughter following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.
During the trial, the teenager claimed that he was acting in self-defence when he inflicted the fatal wound with a knife he was carrying. However, the jury rejected this defence, and he was convicted of manslaughter. He had previously pleaded guilty to unlawfully possessing a knife in public.
The boy was remanded in custody and will be sentenced in April. The trial heard the killer and Zane had earlier been part of a group who gathered outside a nearby shop where they had argued.
The pair headed off towards the canal where Zane was knifed. After being stabbed Zane tried to ride off on his bike before collapsing. Paramedics raced to the scene but he died at the scene.
Police recovered the knife from the canal days later. After the verdict, Zane’s heartbroken family said: “As parents, there are no words that can describe the pain of losing a child.
“The pain is even more unbearable when you lose your child to an act of violence, such as knife crime. This is the devastating reality that our family has lived with every day since we lost our son Zane.
“Zane was not only our son, he was a brother, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin, and a friend to many. The ripple effects of losing him have impacted everyone who knew him.”
The family went on to pay tribute to their “funny boy who knew how to make people laugh”.
His parents added: “He was a kind and loving soul who had a dimpled smile that lit up any room he walked into. He was a funny boy who always knew how to make people laugh and his loss has left a hole in our hearts that can never be filled.
“As a family, we have not only struggled to come to terms with the fact that we will never see Zane again, but we have been forced to endure the emotional turmoil of a trial to try and get some answers as to what happened on the 27th of May last year.
“Despite the pain we feel, we want Zane to be remembered for the amazing person that he was.
“We want the world to know that he was not just a victim of knife crime, but he was a young man with so much potential and so much love to give. Zane may be gone, but he will never be forgotten. His memory will live on in the hearts of those who loved him.
“As a family, we will continue to hold him in our hearts and cherish the memories we have of him. Zane, we love you so deeply and we will never stop loving you. You will always be in our hearts and in this fight we were, and will always continue to be, in your corner.”
What has West Midlands Police said about the case?
Detective Inspector Hannah Whitehouse, from West Midlands Police Homicide Unit, added: “This is a tragic loss of a young life at the hands of a knife and an awful reminder of the impact of carrying weapons.
“Zane was just 15 years old, with his future in front of him, but he was robbed of this because of a knife. We know this conviction will never take away the pain for his family and friends but we can only hope it eases some over time.
“Another boy will now lose his freedom for a long time and have the guilt on his conscience for the rest of his life. The evidence suggests both were armed with knives that night, so it could have been two boys who died that afternoon.
“This case tragically shows how carrying weapons can have life-changing consequences for those involved, and their loved ones, forever.”