Morning Lane killing: Hackney teen Chevaughn Chin cleared of murdering mother's ex-boyfriend
PUBLISHED: 15:38 10 May 2016 | UPDATED: 16:40 10 May 2016
A teenager has been cleared of murdering his mother's "violent" ex-boyfriend after claiming he killed the older man in self-defence.
"If someone has a knife in my house and looks aggressive, I don’t know what he’s going to do next, who he’s going to harm, my instant reaction was to grab his hand.
“I grabbed his wrist underneath the knife with my left hand, and with my right hand I grabbed his elbow, he was pushing the knife towards my face, he kept pushing. "
Chevaughn Chin, 19, denied murdering 39-year-old Jerome Scott in the home he shared with his mother Tameka Belnavis in Ribstone House, Morning Lane, Hackney Central, after the older man came looking for her in the morning of October 18 last year.
The manoeuvre he used to kill Mr Scott had been learnt on a top-secret Army training camp just weeks earlier. Mr Chin, who had recently been stabbed in a Dalston nightclub, had asked a supervisor to teach him the Wing Chun move so he could better defend himself.
In a week-long trial jurors at the Old Bailey heard how Mr Chin, who was 18 at the time of the incident, let Scott – who he “trusted like his father” into his home.
But after Mr Chin saw him crouching “suspiciously” at the door of his mother’s bedroom – where unbeknownst to him she was lying in bed with another man – he asked Mr Scott what he was doing. Mr Scott pulled out a knife and held it near his face “aggressively”.
"There is in a case like this plenty of room for emotion, sympathy and prejudice. There is no doubt Jerome Scott’s character was mildly unsatisfactory, he was abusive verbally and physically. Stick to the facts, if you let your emotions come into it we become some sort of Gallup poll, do we feel sympathy to the defendant because he was 18."
mr Chin, who attended a specialist sports training college where he had dreams of becoming a professional boxer, said: “I was shocked and I didn’t know what was coming next.
“If someone has a knife in my house and looks aggressive, I don’t know what he’s going to do next – who he’s going to harm. My instant reaction was to grab his hand.
“I grabbed his wrist underneath the knife with my left hand, and with my right hand I grabbed his elbow.
“He was pushing the knife towards my face. He kept pushing.
“I was pushing as well – I had to use more power and force to push the knife away. He gave way and my power overcame his power and the knife went into his chest.
“I hadn’t intended in any way for him get hurt. I was scared and terrified of what had just taken place.”
Forensic pathologist Olaf Petrovski described how “severe” force must have been used, for the knife to pass through Scott’s breastbone and into his heart.
Mr Scott, from Walthamstow, had no defensive injuries associated with fending off a knife.
Doctors at the Royal London tried to sew up his heart but he was pronounced dead at 11.40pm.
The Old Bailey heard how Mr Scott, whose nickname was Skinny, had a history of being violent towards his ex-girlfriends, with “a number of them” filing five reports to police that he had bitten them, broken their furniture, damaged cars and threatened one with a knife.
Jurors unanimously found Mr Chin not guilty in less than three hours today.
His Honour Judge Bevan QC told them the verdict was one “he could readily understand”.
Summing up this morning he told them: “In a case like this you are only going to hear one side of the story because you are never going to hear from the victim. It is up to you to see if the charge of murder can be proved.
“The defendant chose to give evidence. He didn’t have to – he could have stood in the dock and said it is for you to prove.
“There is in a case like this plenty of room for emotion, sympathy and prejudice.
“There is no doubt Jerome Scott’s character was mildly unsatisfactory – he was abusive verbally and physically.
“Stick to the facts. If you let your emotions come into it we become some sort of ‘Gallup poll’ – do we feel sympathy to the defendant because he was 18?”
He continued: “A person under attack cannot be expected to work out how much force he should use to defend himself. On the other hand, if he goes too far and uses more force than is really necessary to defend himself, the force would not be reasonable.”