Newhaven boy given life sentence for murder of Eastbourne teenager

A Newhaven boy who ‘brutally’ stabbed his best friend to death has been jailed for life.

Friday, 18th September 2020, 5:01 pm
Updated Friday, 18th September 2020, 5:24 pm

Trent Hutchinson, 17, appeared before Hove Crown Court for sentencing on Friday (September 18), after being found guilty of killing 18-year-old Colin Oliver Wells, known as Ollie, by a majority verdict on Thursday (September 17), following a seven-day trial.

At his sentencing on Friday (September 18), Judge Jeremy Gold QC lifted the ban on naming Hutchinson following a media application made by The Argus.

This newspaper can now reveal that Hutchinson, who was 16 at the time, stabbed Ollie in the back and head following an altercation outside Hutchinson’s home in Elphick Road, Newhaven, on January 6, this year.

Trent Hutchinson has been jailed for life. Picture: Sussex Police

Ollie, who had autism and was from Eastbourne, had been temporarily sleeping on a mattress on Hutchinson’s bedroom floor due to having no accommodation at the time, the court was told.

But late on January 6, the dynamic drastically changed between the pair, who were best friends, the court heard.

‘Agitated’

A car turned up outside Hutchinson’s home and he became agitated and stressed and accused Ollie of ‘bringing trouble to the house’.

A forensic at the scene in Newhaven

A fight ensued between them inside the house in which Hutchinson punched Ollie who then went outside, the court heard.

Hutchinson followed and he was seen attacking Ollie on the doorstep by his mother who had come downstairs to find out what was going on.

He started punching Ollie who was crouched by a door, the court heard. He grabbed a metal letterbox and started striking him with that.

Hutchinson then went back inside the house and grabbed a knife from the kitchen, the court heard.

Trent Hutchinson has been jailed for life. Picture: Sussex Police

The teenager, who claimed he acted in self-defense as he believed he was under attack, then stabbed Ollie in the back and head before he collapsed to the floor.

The court heard that Hutchinson ran back inside the house and told his mother: “I’ve stabbed him.”

His mother rushed outside to try and save Ollie, the court was told. She carried out CPR before paramedics arrived and took over – but despite her heroic efforts, which were praised by Judge Gold, Ollie sadly died.

‘Shocking explosion of violence’

Colin Oliver Wells, known as Ollie, died after being stabbed in Newhaven. Picture: Sussex Police

Judge Gold handed Hutchinson a life sentence.

He must serve a minimum term of 14 years, less 250 days of time already served, before his case can be considered by the parole board, he told the court.

Sentencing Hutchinson, he said: “You have been convicted by the jury for the murder of Ollie Wells on clear and compelling evidence.

“He was your friend which makes this shocking explosion of violence all the more difficult to understand.

“You were 16 years of age at the relevant time and Ollie was just 18.

“2019 had not been a good year for you. You were regularly committing low level criminal offences and appearing before the Youth Court.

Police at the scene in Newhaven

“The Youth Offending Team were closely involved with you and I have some very helpful information from them about you.

“I’ve also listened with care to what Mr Nicholson Pratt has said on your behalf.

“Ollie was sofa surfing in the late part of 2019 and was kindly allowed by your mother to sleep on your bedroom floor.

“I have read a number of victim impact statements from members of Ollie’s family which make heartbreaking reading.

“I hope that you have also read those statements and have at least some appreciation of how your actions have severely affected their lives.

“They are a large, supportive and loving family although Ollie no doubt had his own issues in life which led him to be occasionally staying at your house in Newhaven.

“I don’t suppose we will ever know exactly what it was that caused friction between you and Ollie on the night of January 6, although I’m sure that you have not even begun to tell the truth about it.

“What is clear is that, in an explosion of anger, you quite deliberately went to the kitchen and picked up a long kitchen knife.

“You followed Ollie out of the house and brutally stabbed him in the back with at least moderate force, penetrating through to his heart.

“You then stabbed him a second time in the head, this time with severe force, the knife penetrating through his skull and into his brain.

“Despite your mother’s desperate attempts to help Ollie by tirelessly applying CPR until paramedics arrived, his death was inevitable.”

‘Deliberate attack’

The Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Wolstenholme of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team said: “This tragic moment has had a terrible impact on two families which will live with them forever.

“One young man lost his life, cruelly and savagely murdered by another young man who he believed to be his best friend, who has consigned himself to a tragically limited future.

“The families of both teenagers will undoubtedly feel that loss forever.

“Whatever the disagreement was between them that night, we may never know exactly why Ollie’s murderer reacted in such an extreme and violent way.

“When interviewed, he said in a prepared statement that he acted in self-defence and intended Ollie no serious harm. However the injuries made it clear that this was no defensive action but rather a sustained and deliberate attack.

“Both as a police officer, and a resident of Sussex I am desperate not to see any more young lives cut short as a result of knife violence in our county.

“The impact of knives is huge and often not fully understood by those carrying them.

“If you know of people carrying knives, have information about knife violence or organised criminality involving the carriage of knives or other weapons, please help us to keep people safe by calling us and telling us what you know.

“Let’s work together to avoid any other tragic and senseless losses as we have seen with the sad death of Ollie Wells.”

‘We will never forget him’

Ollie’s family said his death and the horrific way he died has been ‘devastating’ for them.

In a statement issued by Sussex Police, they said: “He was the youngest sibling and loved very much.

“Ollie was a very smiley, happy, cheeky boy and despite facing challenges due to his autism was well-liked and had a great deal of potential.

“He enjoyed many activities including horse-riding, sports and playing his flute, drums and guitar.

“He was also a very keen supporter of Chelsea football club.

“We realise that this terrible crime has had a devastating impact not only upon us, but also upon the lives of another young person and his family, but, ultimately feel that today’s outcome is just and correct.

“We can only hope that somehow some good can come of Ollie’s death, we will never forget him and are so sad he is no longer with us.”

Defendants under 18 have automatic anonymity by law, and that anonymity under section 45 of the law is only lifted in specific circumstances.

Judge Gold agreed to lift the anonymity restrictions in respect of Hutchinson because he said there was a ‘significant public interest in matters of this kind being properly reported’.

He added that Hutchinson was soon turning 18, therefore the restrictions would be lifted then.

He also said there was public concern about knife crime and about knives being routinely carried by youngsters.

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Police responding to the stabbing in Newhaven. Photo: Dan Jessup
The crime scene in Newhaven
Police at the crime scene. Picture: Peter Cripps
A tribute left at the scene. Picture: Peter Cripps
A tribute at the scene. Picture: Peter Cripps
Flowers at the scene. Picture: Peter Cripps