A teenage drug dealer who ‘cowardly’ killed a man in a park after he was confronted for offering to sell drugs to a 14-year-old has been jailed.
Brooklyn Bell, who was acquitted of murder but convicted of manslaughter, stabbed Simon McMinn multiple times in a wooded area of Aireville Park, Skipton, on the evening of July 28, 2021. At the time, Bell, now 19, of Parkwood Rise, Keighley was already out on bail for another stabbing he committed while in Bournemouth.
Bradford Crown Court heard that Mr McMinn and his friend met Bell, who worked for a county drug gang based in West Yorkshire, to buy heroin and crack cocaine.
Read more: Sebastian Kalinowski murder trial updates as jury learns how boy was ‘tortured’ before he died
Mr McMinn was angry when he challenged Bell, who had approached a schoolboy to sell him cocaine earlier in the day. An argument broke out and Bell then used his pocket knife to stab the victim three times, twice in the back and once in the shoulder, John Elvidge QC told the court.
Mr McMinn’s mother, who had seen him earlier in the day, told the court she could never forgive Bell for taking her ‘precious’ son from her.
In a victim impact statement written in the months after her death, she said: “It has been just over two months since my Simon was cruelly taken from me. I will always remember when I was told what happened.
“The thought of his suffering haunts me and I will never forget it. I thought I was a strong person but I am not anymore.”
She added that ‘every day is a struggle and I can’t escape the nightmare I’m in’, saying, ‘No matter how much I cry it will never take the pain away. We used to talk three once a week when the phone rings. I hope it’s him but it’s a false hope.”
The court also heard in 2016 when, when he was 16, Bell stabbed a 54-year-old man in Bournemouth following a minor argument, leaving him with a collapsed lung. Following the attack, which was described as “deliberate and unlawful”, Bell wrote a “celebratory” song about the crime he had committed.
He said: “I left that crime scene happy. No evidence. So the feds can’t catch me. He left the country shortly after but returned to England months later. The court has learned that the victim was still suffering from anxiety due to the attack and that she had lost her self-confidence, he no longer felt safe at night.
In a victim impact statement, he added that he was not walking anywhere in the dark and instead took a taxi. He also told the court that he still suffered from his lung damage and lost his breath easily.
The judge described the August 2019 attack as “an unprovoked, unwarranted and cowardly attack on an innocent man”.
The court heard from Mr Tehrani QC, representing Bell, that the lack of role models as well as “his immaturity and lack of intellectual functioning had a great impact on his development as a person”.
He also told the court that Bell wanted to continue his education and “wants to change the negative attitudes he had developed over his short life, and that he had shown ‘complete and proper remorse’ and a lack of ” self-pity”, but he admitted the attack was “cowardly”.
Bell, born in Huddersfield, was sentenced to three years for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, 15 months for the drug offenses and 10 years and four months for manslaughter. The sentences will be carried out simultaneously in an institute for young offenders.
At sentencing, Judge Rowe said: ‘You were 17 when you went to live in Keighley where you fell in with drug dealers again. You were now nicknamed “street wise”.
“I don’t accept that you were pressured into joining the drug dealers in Keighley, Skipton. You weren’t so naive to believe that gifts were a sign of friendship if you received something else that you had easily agreed to enter your old profession.
“You were, I find, a drug dealer by choice. You were told that you had acquired a ‘tough man image’. I am convinced that in 2021 you had chosen the path of crime.
“You may have been young, you accepted the possibility that the work was accompanied by violence. I’m sure in July 2021, you carried a knife while dealing drugs. You were the one who was armed of a knife you used to kill Mr. McMinn.”
He continued, “You acted angrily using the knife you brought with you, stabbing him repeatedly, ultimately causing his death.”
Following Bell’s sentencing, DI Menzies said: ‘Simon McMinn was a son, brother and father who lost his life at Aireville Park in Skipton while unlawfully carrying a knife. It is a sad indictment for the damage drugs cause to communities and the devastation they cause to families.
“While I know Mr. McMinn’s family is heartbroken by their loss, I hope Bell’s sentencing brings them some comfort. The drug trade in the counties adds another dimension, significant misery and conflict in otherwise low-crime communities such as Craven.
“We have dedicated teams working tirelessly to rid our communities of drugs and prevent dealers from other areas from ruining North Yorkshire.”