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Judge criticises drill music after boy, 14, was fatally stabbed in gang feud

Judge criticises drill music after boy, 14, was fatally stabbed in gang feud

A judge has criticised drill music as a “pernicious genre” after it played a role in stoking violence between two gangs which led to a 14-year-old being fatally stabbed in the street.

Gordon Gault was stabbed on the arm with a machete as he rode on the back of a friend’s e-bike in Newcastle’s West End in November 2022 and died six days later in hospital.

The deadly attack, which also saw one of his associates slashed in the back, happened when two rival gangs from Benwell and Elswick went out looking for each other.

Six teenagers went on trial at Newcastle Crown Court and were cleared of murder, but Carlos Neto, 18, of Salford, Greater Manchester, and Lawson Natty, 18, of Newbiggin Hall, Newcastle, were convicted of manslaughter.

Neto stabbed Gordon in a surprise attack, jurors heard, while Natty was the one who supplied him with the machete he had bought online.

The pair were also convicted of unlawfully wounding the other victim, who was slashed in the back by Neto.

Mr Justice Martin Spencer sentenced Neto to nine years and two months while Natty, who was born in Belgium, was sentenced to 32 months, after which he could face deportation.

The judge said a feud had simmered between Neto’s gang, who had an interest in drill music, and rival youths in Elswick.

Gordon Gault case
Gang leader Carlos Neto, who was influenced by drill music (Northumbria Police/PA)

Sentencing, he said: “This is a pernicious genre of music in that it tends to glorify violence.”

Neto said he was inspired by rappers and their lifestyle, their money, fame, cars and watches.

He liked the rappers’ masculine image and the respect they earned, telling jurors during his trial: “Without these things, my chances of success were zero.”

The judge said the young man could not have been “more wrong”, and with maturity he will see that.

“You still have a future,” he told Neto. “Sadly, Gordon Gault does not.”

Gordon Gault case
Lawson Natty, who supplied a machete to his friend Carlos Neto (Northumbria Police/PA)

The dead boy’s mother read a victim impact statement to the court, urging people not to carry knives. She wept as she said: “The devastation your actions cause is unimaginable.”

Gordon’s grandmother Frances Gault referred to offensive raps and remarks Neto made after the killing.

She said: “Mocking him and gloating about these actions absolutely crushed me.

“No remorse has ever been shown and I can never forgive this.”

The fatal attack on Gordon was the culmination of escalating tit-for-tat violence between the gangs, which included Neto being stabbed in the buttocks in the weeks previously.

Gordon Gault case
One of two weapons recovered as part of the investigation by Northumbria Police into the death of Gordon Gault (Northumbria Police/PA)

It had begun with a rival making a “diss track” making fun of Natty’s appearance, the court heard.

Neto led a group of six to infiltrate Elswick Park, where they were spotted by a larger group of rivals, causing them to retreat.

Gordon, armed with a baseball bat, was stabbed as he was isolated riding on the back of a friend’s speedy e-bike, then a separate clash followed in a nearby street.

The judge praised Northumbria Police’s inquiry, which came in the face of a wall of silence from those involved on both sides.

He also heard how Natty, a church-goer, was remorseful and had prayed for Gordon and his family, was “intelligent” and had won a place at university which he had now lost.