violent robber who stabbed a man to death after being released under investigation for an earlier attack has been jailed for life.
Levi Paschal and his partner in “life and crime” Clementine Jones carried out an attempted robbery in March 2019, the Old Bailey was told.
The lovers were freed by police investigating that incident nearly six months before Paschal killed Lee Casey, 38, who intervened to stop a friend being robbed.
Paschal, 34, of Brixton, was sentenced on Friday to serve a minimum of 20 years for Mr Casey’s murder.
Jones, 32, nicknamed “Danger”, was acquitted of the killing but found guilty of attempted robbery and wounding with intent. She was jailed for 10 years.
On August 29, Jones arranged to meet Lenworth Jackson at Rush Common, on Brixton Hill, to buy drugs and was joined by Paschal, jurors were told.
Mr Casey, who had been with Mr Jackson’s group, was stabbed in the chest by Paschal as he helped his friend who slipped while running away, the court heard. He died two hours later in hospital.
The defendants fled together and the knife was never recovered. But despite their attempts to evade detection, they were arrested in September.
Jurors were told the couple denied the earlier robbery on Donnovan Hylton in March 2019.
Jones, also of Brixton, had claimed he owed her £20, saying in a text message: “I bet if someone box you in your head the money fly out your pocket like cash point.”
On the evening of March 7, Jones visited Mr Hylton’s flat, swiftly followed by Paschal armed with a long, thin knife, the court was told.
The victim was pinned down, punched and cut with the knife.
Jones rifled through his pockets and grabbed his wallet but found it empty.
Mr Hylton, who suffered cuts and bruises to his head, went on to identify both his attackers.
They were arrested on March 12 and then released pending further inquiries, jurors were told.
In an unusual move, the jury, which deliberated for nearly 17 hours, had asked to try on the jogging bottoms Paschal had been wearing on the day of the killing.
Judge Anuja Dhir QC rejected the request on the basis that they had already seen and heard all the evidence but allowed them to have a ruler instead.
Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC told jurors the defendants were “partners in life and crime”.
In a statement, Mr Casey’s sister Michelle Casey said: “Lee’s heroic actions in trying to protect someone did not come as a surprise to us.
“However, this brave and selfless deed resulted in his life being taken.
“As a family, we all suffer anxiety on a daily basis, thinking that Lee will walk through the door or call our phones again.
“The events of that day and the horrific way in which Lee died plays on our minds constantly. The catastrophic damage it has caused us is irreparable.
“All we have wished for is to hear Lee say ‘I love you’ as he always did, but we will never hear this again.”
Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin, who led the investigation, said: “The actions of Levi Paschal have utterly devastated Lee Casey’s family and friends. While no words can begin to ease the pain they are suffering, I hope they can take some solace in the fact that Lee was bravely attempting to assist a friend when he was fatally attacked.
“Paschal and Jones set out that day to intimidate and use violence to get their way. While both will now face the consequences of their actions, the real consequence is borne by Lee’s family who have lost a loved one.”