19 June 2024

Teenager who stabbed 17-year-old to death on dancefloor is jailed for life

19 June 2024

A 17-year-old boy who murdered a teenager on a crowded dancefloor at a summer party has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of at least 16 years behind bars.

Charlie Cosser, 17, was stabbed three times in the chest in a marquee on the grounds of a farmhouse at a private party attended by more than 100 people in Warnham, West Sussex, on July 23 2023.

His killer, Yura Varybrus, can be named for the first time after applications by the PA news agency and the Sunday Times to lift a ban on reporting his identity.

Sentencing Varybrus at Brighton Crown Court on Wednesday, Judge Christine Henson KC said: “Instead of what should have been an end of academic year celebration, Charlie was stabbed … on a crowded marquee dancefloor.

We have the life sentence, and Charlie has no life. No sentence will be long enough for my child’s murderer. It doesn’t bring Charlie back

“The impact of the loss of Charlie to his family and friends is immeasurable.”

The judge added that while she accepted it was a “spontaneous” incident and it was not certain that Varybrus brought the knife to the party, it was however “a significant factor you knew the knife was available to you during the evening and you were in possession of it on the dancefloor”.

“You armed yourself with a knife on the dancefloor.”

The courtroom was packed with family members as Varybrus was sentenced, and Charlie’s family gave emotional statements to court on the impact Charlie’s death has had on them.

Charlie’s mother, Tara Cosser, told the court about how the 17-year-old had begun an apprenticeship as a groundsman at a private school and was “loving his new adventure”.

He was also “so excited” to go on his first holiday with friends to Zante he had been saving up for after the party.

Mrs Cosser said: “We have the life sentence, and Charlie has no life.

“No sentence will be long enough for my child’s murderer. It doesn’t bring Charlie back.”

Of Charlie, she added: “He was calm and chilled … he got along with everybody.

“(The) impact of losing him will last forever. Just numbness and sadness.

“When I do laugh or smile, I feel so guilty.

“I send him a Whatsapp message every morning.”

Varybrus stabbed Charlie after a fight broke out between the two strangers and two other boys on the dancefloor when Varybrus and his friends were asked to leave the party after complaints about his behaviour towards a girl.

While the knife has never been found, witnesses at the party said they saw Varybrus “drenched” in blood and heard him say, “I’ve stabbed someone” after the attack.

A guest at the party also captured part of the violence on video as she began filming her friends dancing to the song Toxic by Britney Spears.

The trial heard how Charlie was seen lying in the grass and was initially believed to be intoxicated before blood was seen on his T-shirt and his friend realised he had been stabbed.

When police arrived at 12.30am, Charlie was still conscious and was able to tell them his name, address and date of birth.

He suffered a cardiac arrest on the way to hospital, with internal bleeding caused by a cut to his aorta, the main artery from the heart.

The teenager, from Milford, Surrey, also known as “Cheeks”, died two days later, on July 25.

Varybrus was found guilty of Charlie’s murder and having a bladed article following a trial at Brighton Crown Court.

The youth, of West Sussex, did not give evidence in the trial but denied both charges.

At sentencing, defending, Sarah Jones KC said Varybrus would turn back time if he could, adding: “He will always be known for something he cannot even remember that was the work of a drunken few seconds.”

She said he understands that Charlie Cosser “did not deserve what happened to him” and “his family did not deserve to lose their son”.

Jurors had heard how Varybrus had burned the blood-covered clothes he was wearing at the party in a firepit in the garden, and had suffered an injury to his left hand, which the prosecution alleged happened as he used the knife to stab Charlie.

The court heard how footage showed the teenager at a Toby Carvery restaurant on July 23 before being arrested by police.

Charlie’s family previously paid tribute to their “most caring, cheeky and loving son and brother” who had a “ridiculously silly sense of humour”.

Since his death, they have set up a charity called Charlie’s Promise, dedicated to fighting knife crime across Surrey and the UK.

Restrictions continue to ban reporting of Varybrus’ address and where he is detained.

On lifting the restriction to name him, Judge Henson said: “The level of youth crime in this case is likely to be of significant public interest at a private party attended by many young people.

“Charlie Cosser’s death has shocked a community and the family have set up a charity to fight against knife crime. Disclosure may aid the local community in coming to terms with this incident.”

She added that the potential deterrent nature for others in identifying Varybrus in this case is crucial for the public interest and public protection in homicide cases.

Varybrus will serve the minimum term minus 328 days he has already spent in custody.

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