Knife crime in the North East: Remembering 14-year-old Tomasz Oleszak

Tomasz Oleszak was tragically killed in October last year.
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Gateshead teenager Tomasz Oleszak tragically lost his life on the 4th October last year after he was stabbed on the Springwell estate.

The 14-year-old had been hanging out with friends in Whitehills nature park when another 14-year-old boy, unknown to the group, shouted “I’m going to wet you” before stabbing Tomasz in the chest. Despite the best efforts of medical staff, the teeanger died in hospital the following morning.

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Tomasz had moved with his family to the North East from Poland in 2012 in the hope for a better life.

Three days later, the unknown 14-year-old boy, who can now be named as Leighton Amies, was arrested and charged with Tomasz’s murder as well as wounding another teenager with intent and with having a bladed article in a public place. A 13-year-old girl was also arrested on suspicion of assisting the offender.

After Amies was charged, Tomasz’s mother, Kamila Wisniewska, said: “Tomasz was an amazing son, a kind and caring role model to his little brother and a great friend to so many.

“As a family we are devastated beyond words.”

Tomasz’s death rocked the community and at the time Gateshead Council and Northumbria Police worked together to provide bereavement and safeguarding support.

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“He was a talented, smart young man and a brilliant footballer. He had so much potential and his whole life ahead of him. He made us so proud to be his parents,” his mum continued, “We will never stop loving him. The hole left in our lives can never be filled. Our world has changed forever.

“But even in our darkest days, the community has helped us see just a little bit of light. We are completely blown away by the support and kindness that has been shown to our family.”

On the day of his funeral, the community lined the streets and Tomasz was welcomed to the church with a huge round of applause. Friends and family wore his favourite colour purple in his memory and purple balloons could be found around the Springwell estate.

The community continued to grieve and with Tomasz’s love for football, his team, Cleveland Hall FC, hosted a memorial match in his honour.

Tomasz’s Oleszaks family were presented with a book of condolence and football shirtTomasz’s Oleszaks family were presented with a book of condolence and football shirt
Tomasz’s Oleszaks family were presented with a book of condolence and football shirt
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Kim McGuinness, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria Police, attended the match and said: “It is absolutely vital that we redouble our efforts to prevent crime like this from happening and that’s everything from going into schools making sure we’re doing the education; huge events like this which are about raising awareness of the dangers of serious violence and knife crime.

“But then, of course, the police need to be proactive and be out there on patrol- reassuring communities and working with them to gain that intelligence and also to hammer that message home how dangerous it is to carry a knife.”

The investigation continued and last month the now 15-year-old Leighton Amies appeared at Newcastle Crown Court accused of Tomasz’s murder.

Leighton Amies, who has been found guilty of the murder of Tomasz Oleszak. Credit: Northumbria PoliceLeighton Amies, who has been found guilty of the murder of Tomasz Oleszak. Credit: Northumbria Police
Leighton Amies, who has been found guilty of the murder of Tomasz Oleszak. Credit: Northumbria Police

Amies was found guilty of murder and attempted assault on a second victim.

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Following the conviction the judge, Mr Justice Spencer, lifted the reporting ban preventing the identification of Amies, telling the court: “There is a public interest in trying to deflect young people from the carrying of knives, where when that happens, this kind of utterly tragic outcome can occur.

“In my judgement, the public interest in reporting fully of these proceedings, including the identity of the defendant, in fact outweighs the interests of the defendant in having the anonymity of his identity maintained.”

Amies is set to be sentenced in June 2023.

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