Rugby man jailed for 21 years for stabbing another man in the heart

His accomplice was given a 12-year prison sentence

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 5:48 pm

A Rugby man who stabbed another man in the heart, but claimed he had been aiming at his victim’s shoulder at the time, may end up spending more than 20 years behind bars.

Jovan Sleem had denied the attempted murder of Wayne Bevan, who almost died as a result of his injury, but was found guilty by a jury at Warwick Crown Court last month.

And after an adjournment for a report to be prepared on him, a judge ruled that Sleem, who was also convicted of wounding Sebastian Gawkiewicz with intent, was a dangerous offender.

Jovan Sleem (37) of Seathwaite, Brownsover, Rugby, was given an extended sentence of 21 years in jail, of which he will have to serve 14 years before the Parole Board will consider his release.
Jovan Sleem (37) of Seathwaite, Brownsover, Rugby, was given an extended sentence of 21 years in jail, of which he will have to serve 14 years before the Parole Board will consider his release.

Sleem (37) of Seathwaite, Brownsover, Rugby, was given an extended sentence of 21 years in jail, of which he will have to serve 14 years before the Parole Board will consider his release.

But he will only be freed before serving the full 21 years if it is considered safe to do so – and will then be on licence for the rest of the period and for a further three years.

With him in the dock was Clifford Kessna (47) of Pickard Close, Rugby, who was cleared of attempted murder, but was found guilty of wounding Mr Gawkiewicz with intent and affray.

Kessna, who had never been to prison before, was jailed for 12 years, of which he will have to serve eight years before he is released on licence.

Jovan Sleem

During the trial prosecutor Talbir Singh said the two men were involved in the use of ‘gratuitous violence’ towards Mr Bevan and Mr Gawkiewicz on June 11 last year.

That afternoon Mr Bevan, who lived in the ‘odd block’ of three-storey flats in Skiddaw, Brownsover, was walking past the ‘even block’ when a bottle thrown from above hit him on the head.

He looked up and saw Sleem at a flat on the top floor, so ran back to his flat before returning, having armed himself with a knife, with Mr Gawkiewicz.

Sleem and Kessna, who lived in another flat in the block, came out to confront them, ‘intent on violence.’

Clifford Kessna

Kessna ran towards Mr Gawkiewicz, who ran away, and he was chased into a corner of the gardens of the flats where Sleem, armed with two knives, stabbed him to the leg, completely severing the femoral artery, and Kessna also aimed blows at him.

Mr Bevan ran back to his flat to tell Mr Gawkiewicz’s brother, and they both came back out armed with knives.

Sleem then launched an attack on Mr Bevan, pushing him to the floor, stamping on his head and stabbing him to his chest, penetrating his heart, before walking away.

One of the police officers who attended the scene applied a tourniquet to Mr Gawkiewicz’s leg, which the surgeon who operated on him said ‘may have saved his life.’

And Mr Bevan had ‘a huge collection of blood around the heart’ from his wound, and would have died ‘within an hour or two’ according to consultant surgeon Uday Dandekar who operated on him.

Giving evidence, Sleem had denied having stabbing Mr Gawkiewicz and claimed that Mr Bevan had come at him with a knife.

He claimed he feared for his life, adding: “He stumbled. I tried a martial arts axe kick to keep him down.”

And of then stabbing Mr Bevan, he said: “My intent was to put one in his shoulder. I intended to aim for his shoulder to immobilise him so he couldn’t use that arm to produce the knife.”

At the resumed hearing, his barrister Andrew Copeland argued: “It is unlikely any of us would be here if it was not for Mr Bevan going back to get what he called his ‘protection,’ that large knife, and going back.

“It may be Mr Sleem would not have gone down without a knife. He clearly thought there was going to be a confrontation – and there was.”

Mr Copeland conceded: “But for Pc [Chris] Batchelder, it may be he would be facing a much more serious allegation.”

Graeme Simpson, for Kessna, pointed out he had not been armed with a knife, but a sharpened piece of plastic trunking which a pathologist said could not have inflicted serious injury.

Jailing the two men, Judge Peter Cooke said: “This incident did not begin with Wayne Bevan brandishing the very large knife/machete he returned with.

“It began with him leaving the odd block to go round to the even block to see [a friend] to cadge a cigarette from him.

“It was after he had been threatened that he armed himself, so he was not the author of that day’s events, he was reacting in alarm to the hostile behaviour you two had shown.

“The jury found that the attack on Sebastian Gawkiewicz was carried out with the intention to inflict really serious injury, rather than to kill him – but it was an attack which resulted in life-threatening injuries.

“It was an attack in which both of you took part, with you Mr Sleem inflicting the injury with one of two knives you took to the scene.

“After you had inflicted a number of stab wounds and left him bleeding on the ground, you returned to him, having stabbed Wayne Bevan, and delivered two kicks to him when he was completely helpless.

"You Kessna played a supporting role. You brought a weapon to the scene, although in your case it was a sharp piece of plastic trunking.

“At the start of the incident you pursued him and cut off any chance of retreat to the odd block, and it was that cornering of him which allowed Sleem to launch his potentially fatal attack with one of the knives I am satisfied you knew he had on him.

"Once Sebastian Gawkiewicz was severely injured, you were seen to be doing something plainly hostile to him, whether it was delivering blows or seeking to restrain his arms, that is what you were doing as Sleem kicked him.

“You then continued your support of Sleem by hiding the knives in the freezer compartment of your fridge.

“Sleem, the jury unanimously found that the stab which punctured Wayne Bevan’s hear was delivered with the intent that it should prove fatal. That stabbing was gratuitous and vicious.

“But for prompt medical attention he too would have died. In fact the pathologist expressed surprise that he had survived, and having stabbed him, you left him to die and walked off to resume your attack on Sebastian Gawkiewicz.”