Breaking BUCKINGHAMSHIRE Marlow Bottom

A man has been found guilty of murder and conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm with intent following a trial lasting seven weeks at Oxford Crown Court

Nathan Braim, aged 20, of Broadwaters Avenue, Thame, was found guilty of one count of murder, one count of conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm with intent and one count of possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.

Benjamin Eyles, aged 19, of Monks Hollow, Marlow Bottom, was found not guilty of murder, but found guilty of manslaughter and conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm with intent.

At around 7.05pm on Wednesday 22 July last year, Josh Harling, who was 19, was found in an upturned vehicle with serious injuries in Chinnor Road, Thame.

Although initially believed to have been a road traffic collision, Mr Harling was found to have had a knife wound to the chest, which had been caused by Braim in an earlier altercation.

Four days prior to the incident that resulted in Mr Harling’s death, Braim and Eyles had been looking for Mr Harling in Elms Park, Thame, and were armed with long poles, intending to cause him serious injuries.

They failed to locate Mr Harling that night, despite their best efforts to do so, and did not see him again until the night that he died.

Braim and Eyles, who were both 19-years-old at the time, were close friends and Eyles was involved in the supply of cannabis in Thame.

Four days after the incident in Elms Park, on 22 July, Braim and Eyles were together and drove to Thame in Eyles’s car.

They drove past Mr Harling’s car, a green Volkswagen Polo, more than once and at around 7pm, an altercation occurred in Cotmore Close between Mr Harling and Braim and Eyles.

During this short altercation, which lasted less than one minute, Mr Harling was stabbed by Braim.

The stab wound did not cause Mr Harling to collapse and he ran back to his car and tried to make his escape by driving away.

Braim ran up to Mr Harling’s car and stamped on the rear windscreen, causing it to shatter.

Mr Harling drove away and turned into Essex Road and then onto Chinnor Road.

He began to feel unwell and lost control of his car and collided with some parked vehicles before overturning onto the roof.

An ambulance was called, but despite the best efforts of medical professionals and members of the public, Mr Harling died at the scene.

A Home Office post-mortem found the cause of Mr Harling’s death to be a stab wound to the chest.

Following an investigation by the Major Crime Unit, Braim was charged with murder on 26 July 2020 and conspiring to commit GBH with intent on 9 October. He was also charged with possession of a bladed article in a public place.

Eyles was charged with murder and conspiring to commit GBH with intent on 29 September.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Mike Roddy, of Thames Valley Police’s Major Crime Unit, said: “This was a needless and tragic incident which resulted in the death of a young man with his life ahead of him.

“Whatever the reasons were for the altercation on the evening of 22 July 2020, there can be absolutely no justification for the violence meted out by Braim and Eyles, who have both been found culpable for Mr Harling’s death.

“The fact that they had previously conspired with each other to cause Mr Harling significant injury four days earlier shows that this was not a random attack, and at the very least, Braim intended to cause Mr Harling serious harm.

“Although the jury found that Eyles was not guilty of murder, they did convict him of the lesser charge of manslaughter, concluding that he was in some way complicit in this incident.

“The background of animosity between the defendants and Mr Harling was surrounding drug supply rivalries in Thame, but despite this, the violence seen that night was completely unacceptable.

“I am pleased that the jury have seen fit to convict both Braim and Eyles of these grave offences, and they will now have a considerable term of imprisonment to reflect on their actions of that evening.

“The actions of Braim and Eyles have had a devastating impact on Josh’s family. They have had to come to terms with their unimaginable loss.

“I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Josh’s family, who have had to listen to harrowing evidence in court in relation to his death.

“They have conducted themselves with tremendous dignity and bravery throughout not only the investigation, but also the trial, and I would like to offer both my condolences, and the condolences of Thames Valley Police.

“Although no amount of time in prison will ever be complete solace for Mr Harling’s family, I hope that the fact we have brought his killers to justice will serve as some form of closure.

“This needless incident also affected a number of other people in the town, and the wider Thame community.

“The supply of drugs in the Thames Valley, and indeed, across the country, often leads to incidents of violence, and this case highlights the dangers of being involved in such illicit activities.

“This case also shows the risks in carrying any type of weapon. If you carry a knife, you put both yourself, and others, in serious danger, and if you use a knife as a weapon, you can expect Thames Valley Police to robustly pursue you and put you before the courts where you belong.

 “I have a very clear message to anybody who feels it is acceptable to carry a knife.

“Serious violence and knife crime such as this causes pain and misery, and Thames Valley Police has a Violence Reduction Unit dedicated in its mission to tackle it via prevention, intervention and enforcement.

“We will work tirelessly with partners, including our communities, to tackle serious violence and knife crime, and can warn anybody who carries a knife and uses it, we will pursue you and bring you to justice.”

Braim and Eyles will re-appear at Oxford Crown Court on Friday 26 February for sentencing.