Case: Teenage dealer stabbed addict to death: Paulo Costa
Paulo Costa
Navarone John-Vacher
Status: Solved
Categories: Drug Related
Case synopsis:

Drug dealer Navarone John-Vacher was just 17 when he stabbed Paulo Costa to death in a West London crack den.

The teenager wrongly believed the 29-year-old victim had set him up after a rival gang robbed him of his stash.

He was later convicted of murder following a trial at the Old Bailey.

The court heard Mr Costa regularly used crack cocaine with friends at his ground floor flat in Rectory Park Avenue, Northolt, Middlesex.

On the evening of January 25, 2007, two men and two women turned up the flat, asking for help buying drugs.

Mr Costa - known as ''PJ'' - called a 20 year-old dealer known as Jay, who arrived later that night with bags of crack and heroin.

Prosecuting Counsel Aftab Jafferjee told the court: ''It is almost certain that the two men in the group, when they saw Jay, got the idea it would be quite easy to get drugs from him for no money.’

At around 9pm, Jay returned to the flat once more, this time with John-Vacher, only to be set upon by the robbers, who stole their drugs and £50 in cash.

''They had weapons and they quickly overpowered the defendant and his friend and got away,’ Mr Jafferfee said.

He added: ''The defendant worked out pretty quickly they had been set up but entirely wrongly levelled the accusation for the setup on PJ.

''The anger was vented on PJ by this defendant, who produced his knife and stabbed him through the abdomen and his chest.''

Jurors heard the murder was witnessed by at least two other drug users in the flat at the time.

During the trial, John-Vacher denied attacking Mr Costa and claimed the murder was carried out by the robbers.

He claimed he jumped out of the window in the flat in fear of his life.

But the jury convicted him of murder after little more than 90 minutes of deliberation.

Sentencing then had to be adjourned overnight after ''disgraceful'' scenes broke out in the public gallery when the verdict was returned, with spectators sobbing and shouting in court, leading to police being called.

Passing sentence the next day, Judge Michael Mettyear, QC, ordered that the teenager be detained indefinitely at Her Majesty''s pleasure - the equivalent of a life sentence for an adult, with a minimum of 10 years detention.

He said: ''At Paulo Costa''s home you were robbed by two others and you blamed Paulo Costa accusing him of setting up the robbery.

''In all probability there was no substance in the allegation that you made. The evidence suggests he tried to prevent and not facilitate the robbery.

''Be that as it may, in the heat of the moment and blaming him for what happened to you, you pulled a knife from your waistband and you stabbed him.

''This case is another illustration of the very great danger associated with carrying knives, as you were that night.

''I have no doubt when you went round that night you had no intention of injuring anyone.

''But as so often happens the presence of a knife at the scene caused you to act immediately and fatally.''

In an impact statement read to the court, Mr Costa''s partner Elaine Buchanan said their relationship had become strained because of his drug habits.

But they had remained close up until his death because of the close bond with their daughter.

She said: ''Paulo was, despite the drugs, a people person. He was happy, loving and helpful to everyone.

''He loved kids, not just his own, but his nieces and nephews and they loved him.

''His visits were eagerly anticipated.

''His death was a huge loss to my daughter and myself and a reflection of the drugs society he fell victim too.''

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