KILLER Jamie Frank Higgs was jailed for eight years by a judge yesterday at Winchester Crown Court for the manslaughter of Kai Archer.

He was also issued with an extended licence period of three years due to the dangerousness he poses to members of the public.

This came after Higgs, aged 19 and of Windsor Road, Bournemouth, was found unanimously guilty of manslaughter in relation to the death of Mr Archer.

As reported, the 20-year-old was fatally stabbed by Higgs in St Swithun's Road, Bournemouth, on November 16, 2019.

At a sentencing hearing on Tuesday, September 29, the judge, Justice Mrs Jennifer Eady DBE, gave a detailed summary of the case and the reasons for the punishment Higgs received.

Judge Eady DBE made her remarks available to the press and the sections of it can be found in full below.

Opening remarks

"Jamie Higgs, on 5 August 2020, a jury unanimously convicted you of the manslaughter of Kai Archer," said Judge Eady DBE.

"On 16 November 2019, Kai Archer died of stab wounds caused by you.

"Kai was 20; he was a young man who had gone through some dark times, but he had obtained a job he enjoyed and was beginning to turn his life around.

"I have read moving statements from Claire Archer, Kai’s mum, and Sarah Archer, Kai’s auntie, and it is clear Kai was a much loved son and nephew and his tragic death has had a devasting impact on his family, in particular Kai’s brothers.

"No sentence I impose today can ease the sentence Kai’s family face as a result of their loss; I can only commend them for the dignity they have shown in attending these court proceedings."

Bournemouth Echo: Kai Archer, inset, was fatally stabbed outside Bournemouth Pizza Co in St Swithun's RoadKai Archer, inset, was fatally stabbed outside Bournemouth Pizza Co in St Swithun's Road

The Facts

Judge Eady DBE gave a detailed account of the facts of the case, of which she was sure. These can be summarised as follows:

  • Higgs had known Mr Archer from childhood; there had been fallings out between them but, in November 2019, they were on friendly terms.
  • Like Mr Archer, Higgs was living in supported housing.
  • On the day of Mr Archer's death, a resident had come to Higgs’s room and had been playing with a knife, speaking of robbing people. Higgs dissuaded him from this plan, agreeing instead to go out to steal from shops with him. Higgs took the knife away from the other male and, to dissuade them from taking out another knife, took a smaller knife out himself. Higgs had taken two or three Valium tablets, washed down with some wine, then went out –carrying the knife – to steal alcohol from two shops and then drink three small cans of beer; all on top of his normal methadone script.
  • At about 9pm, Higgs left the male to go to Mr Archer's house; Mr Archer welcomed him in and was happy to include him in his plan to meet a teenage boy that evening.
  • At 9.59pm, Mr Archer, a teenage girl, and Higgs left the house. Higgs was drinking a bottle of WKD Blue, which he had earlier stolen, and, for reasons that are unclear, within a short while of leaving the house, he hit Mr Archer on the head with the bottle.
  • Higgs thought Mr Archer might have been planning an attack on him but accepted Mr Archer had not struck him and had used no weapon against him.
  • Mr Archer moved on ahead and phoned the teenage boy to clarify where they would meet, telling him about the incident with the bottle.
  • The telephone call continued until just before Mr Archer reached the arranged meeting place; Higgs was walking just behind, with the girl. Mr Archer turned round to confront Higgs, who then drew the knife.
  • On Higgs’s own case, he was using it as a threat; Higgs says to ward off an attack by Mr Archer and a male, who was standing nearby.
  • In the altercation that followed, the first punches may have been thrown by Mr Archer, but Higgs struck him three times with the knife.
  • Higgs said he believed Mr Archer was threatening to stab him and that another person had a taser, but Mr Archer only used his fists against him and the other person came into contact with him only when he pushed him away, after the scuffle between Higgs and Mr Archer.
  • Higgs also claimed the stabbing of Kai was accidental but that was not consistent with the wounds he inflicted, which show he moved the knife during the course of the altercation, stabbing Mr Archer three times.
  • The jury rejected any suggestion that this was an accident and did not accept that Higgs was acting in lawful self-defence.
  • After he had been stabbed, Mr Archer turned to greet someone but then fell to the floor, bleeding profusely. Before an ambulance arrived, Mr Archer was attended to by two young men who worked in a nearby restaurant; they are to be commended for the help they provided. Unfortunately, his injuries were fatal; he was pronounced dead at 11.07pm that night.
  • After stabbing Mr Archer, Higgs left the scene and disposed of the knife and his distinctive red jacket.
  • Higgs said he did not immediately appreciate how seriously injured Mr Archer was, but he knew he had stabbed him and when he later saw the police tent covering the scene he knew Mr Archer might be dead; yet, when he was stopped by police a little later on, he volunteered no information to assist them and when he was subsequently arrested and interviewed over the course of the following three days, he declined to answer, albeit he said this was on legal advice.

Bournemouth Echo: Jamie Frank Higgs was jailed yesterdayJamie Frank Higgs was jailed yesterday

Offence Category and Starting Point

"I am bound to impose a sentence which reflects the seriousness of this case and protects the public," said the judge.

"I have had regard to the sentencing guidelines for unlawful act manslaughter and agree with the prosecution that the most obvious starting point in this case is category B (high culpability): you took a knife out with you that night and you used it to stab Kai Archer three times; it would have been obvious, or ought to have been, that there was a high risk of death or serious injury.

"That said, I accept that, to some extent, you were seeking to defend yourself against an attack; that is a relevant part of the context to which I must have regard, albeit your reaction - using a knife to respond to fists - was unreasonable and excessive.

"I also accept that your lack of maturity and borderline IQ are relevant, although in this case I consider these are appropriately to be addressed at a later stage, as mitigating factors.

"Those representing you have urged me to see this as falling between categories D and C (lower and medium culpability) but carrying a knife to the scene and your excessive response to the threat you faced clearly takes this out of category D.

"Ultimately, I am forced to conclude that the facts of this case are such that it does not straightforwardly fit within any one category. Having regard to the context I have described, I consider this offence is to be treated as falling below category B, but towards the higher end of category C.

"The guidelines are expressly not to be applied in an overly mechanistic way and I consider the appropriate starting point in this case is one of eight years."

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

Judge Eady DBE told the court: "There are, however, a number of aggravating features to this case.

"Your previous convictions constitute a statutory aggravating factor: your offending dates back to when you were 13 and shows a pattern of extremely violent behaviour, with knives being used to threaten others on three previous occasions.

"Although much of your offending might have related to your volatile home life, that was not the case when you used a knife to threaten and rob a young man in 2017 or when you threatened others at a supported accommodation unit in 2018 (although you told police at the time that you were just holding a piece of plastic, in evidence before me you accepted you used a knife).

"You also committed this offence whilst under the influence of alcohol and drugs and then, after the incident, you attempted to conceal evidence by disposing of the knife and your distinctive jacket.

"Finally, it is an aggravating feature that you committed this offence while subject to a Community Order, imposed on 28 May 2019, and having been sentenced to a conditional discharge on 9 July 2019; you thus acted in breach of those Court Orders.

"In terms of mitigation, I have taken account of the positive character evidence (written and oral) from those who have worked with you and I have listened carefully to all that has been said on your behalf.

"I accept you did not intend to kill Kai Archer and there was no premeditation. I also accept there is evidence of remorse.

"Moreover, although you were 18 at the time (19 now), chronological age is not the only consideration: turning 18 is not a cliff-edge, and I have had regard to your youth and emotional immaturity.

"That said, it is apparent from your own account that you understood that carrying a knife was wrong and the evidence of Mary Fields, who lived in the same accommodation as you, was that you had previously said “if you don’t fight with your fists, you shouldn’t fight at all”.

"Having regard to the psychiatric and neuropsychology evidence (the reports of Dr Ewbank and Dr Thompson), I accept that your low IQ, the fact that you suffer from ADHD, the effects of the brain injury you sustained in 2018, the lack of any proper guidance during your troubled childhood, and your anxiety and depression are all relevant mitigating factors; there is evidence to support the view that these are matters that impacted upon your decision-making in the commission of this offence.

"Finally, I also take into account the particular burdens on those in custody during the coronavirus pandemic and I am conscious these may well continue for some time."


"Given the nature of your offence, I am also bound to consider the question of dangerousness for the purposes of the Criminal Justice Act 2003," said Judge Eady DBE. "That requires me to determine whether there is a significant risk of your committing further specified offences and, if so, of the causing thereby of serious harm to members of the public.

"This is a decision for me, but I have been assisted by the pre-sentence report prepared by the probation service, and the assessment of risk undertaken by its author.

"I have also had regard to the further report of Dr Ewbank, and her account of how your behaviour can be attributed to both long-standing factors and to those that might be modifiable with on-going support, such as your drug use.

"I note the work you have undertaken whilst in custody, which gives some hope of a developing maturity and a desire to address the underlying causes of your offending behaviour; in particular, you are to be commended for the steps you have taken to engage with mental health support and to reduce your drug dependency.

"It is, however, clear to me that you find it difficult to remove yourself from risky situations, even when you know that you should, and the factors I saw as relevant to mitigation, such as your poor decision-making, are equally matters that confirm to me the significant risk that you continue to pose to others.

"Taking the reports alongside the information I have about your previous convictions, the circumstances of the present offence and all the other material available to me, as both trial and sentencing judge, I am satisfied you present a significant risk of causing serious harm to members of the public – in particular to other young men, such as Kai Archer – by committing further specified offences.

"This is not a case where it would be appropriate to impose a life sentence, but I am satisfied that an extended sentence is necessary in your case for the protection of the public."


The judge said: "An extended sentence is made up of two parts: the custodial element and the extended licence period.

"On the custodial element, I am prepared to accept that the aggravating features I have referenced are counter-balanced by your personal mitigation.

"The minimum sentence that I can impose that reflects the gravity of this offence is thus one of eight years’ detention. The extended licence period will be three years, making a total of 11 years."

"Jamie Higgs, for the manslaughter of Kai Archer, I sentence you to a custodial term of eight years’ detention in a young offenders’ institution until you are old enough to be moved to an adult prison.

"You will serve five years and four months of that term before you can be considered by the Parole Board for release and, if so, on what terms. You will be entitled to release after eight years.

"On your release you will be on licence. If that is before you have completed eight years in custody, you will be on licence to the end of that custodial period before beginning an extended period of licence for a further three years.

"Your licence will be subject to conditions and if you breach any condition you will be liable to have your licence revoked and to be returned to custody to serve the remainder of your sentence.

"I am told that you have already spent 314 days in custody and these days will automatically count toward the custodial term of your sentence.

"If that calculation is subsequently found to be incorrect, it will be put right by correcting the record administratively without further hearing.

"A statutory surcharge will also be applied in the appropriate amount."