A READING knifeman who stabbed a man to death after he was made to look ‘foolish’ in a text exchange has been told he will serve at least 24 years in prison.

O’Neal Joseph, 28, of Amersham Road, was handed a life sentence for the fatal stabbing of Yannick Cupido outside the Best One shop in Caversham on February 14. 

His accomplice, Reece Weatherburn (23, of Nire Road, Caversham), was jailed for three years after he was convicted of two counts of assisting an offender. 


Joseph stabbed Cupido to death after the pair had a fight outside the corner shop just after midnight on February 14 before Weatherburn ‘slowed the police investigation’ by helping the knifeman avoid apprehension.

The pair were yesterday (November 23) convicted following a three-week trial and more than seven hours of jury deliberations.

At the sentencing of the duo, Cupido’s mother, who previously paid tribute to her son after his death, was unable to provide a victim personal statement as she found the process too difficult, a court heard. 

Passing sentence, Judge Nawaz said a text exchange between Cupido and Joseph ‘ramped up tensions’ between the rivals in the hours before the former was killed. 

He said: “Neither was willing to back down, this was all a face-saving exercise. 

“He [Joseph] had been made to look foolish and he was not going to stand for that. 

“This was the catalyst for what was to follow.”

‘There is only one sentence’

The fight between Cupido and Joseph occurred after the duo argued over a prank the former played in which he falsely claimed their mutual friend Reece Weatherburn had been arrested. 

From this, their argument snowballed and Cupido and Joseph crossed paths on Nire Road, where the former headbutted the latter. 

In evidence heard during a three-week trial, Joseph stabbed Cupido in the chest after two minutes of fighting. 

Cupido ran off and collapsed on Managua Close before collapsing a minute later. 


He was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead at 1.24am. 

Weatherburn assisted Joseph by meeting him just after 3am and letting him stay at his Reading home on Battle Square. 

The 23-year-old then told police in two separate interviews he did not know Joseph had stabbed Cupido -- something he was fully aware of. 

Prosecuting, Matthew Walsh said: “There is only one sentence [life] as far as count one [murder] is concerned. 

“The exercise for the court today is to decide the minimum sentence.

“Mr Joseph sought to intercept Mr Cupido as he came back to the estate. That became an ambush. 

'On the other end of the spectrum, this was thought to be a meeting to discuss differences. 

'Nevertheless a knife was taken [to the scene].


Mr Walsh told the court of O'Neal Joseph has previous convictions, which included one incident where he put a woman in a headlock, put a hand over her mouth and stole her purse. 

He was found with a knife when arrested. He claimed he was holding a knife for a friend.
Addressing Reece Weatherburn's actions, Mr Walsh said the 22-year-old’s actions did not ultimately prevent Joseph’s murder conviction. 

However, he added: “What was the damage to justice? It really caused the investigation to move at a slower pace than it might have done so.”

Mr Walsh said Yannick Cupido's mother had not provided a victim personal statement as she had found the process 'too much of an ordeal.'

The prosecutor adds that the absence of the statement 'speaks volumes', however. 

‘Severe punishments’ 

Defending for Joseph, David Hislop said the 28-year-old was already serving a number of punishments. 

He said: “At the age of only 28 he faces a prison sentence of a very long time. 

“He will not see his children and he will have endure the knowledge his children will know their father is in prison for murder. 

“He will have to endure the knowledge that he murdered a man in a few minutes of madness. 

“He has ruined not only his life but the lives of others, and this he will have to live with for the rest of his life. 

“These are all severe punishments in their selves.”

Mr Hislop argued 'there was an element of provocation’ which led to the stabbing, before concluding: “This was a case of self-defence with unreasonable use of force”

He claimed Joseph was “still a relatively young man and there was undoubted remorse.”

‘Significant sentence’ 

Defending for Weatherburn, Nadia Chbat said Weatherburn was in ‘a very difficult position and not acting with much thought' when he helped Joseph in the hours after Cupido’s stabbing. 

She said his offending was 'curious' and 'unusual' as his friend was murdered, but he helped his friend's murderer in the hours after the incident. 

“He accepts he will serve a sentence of significance.

“We are still dealing with a young man who is very immature who will have to face a further period of time in custody which will be difficult for him and his family. 

“This case has had an impact on him and will continue to do so beyond the sentence your honour imposes this morning.”


Sentencing, His Honour Judge Nawaz said Cupido was "much-loved".

He told Joseph the jury ‘understandably’ rejected his account of self-defence. 

Adding: “When you left the house that night, you knew what you were going to do -- use that weapon. 

“You knew Yannick Cupido was on his way to the estate. 

“You, Reece Weatherburn, are guilty of assisting Joseph. You offered him accommodation at your flat knowing the police were looking for him because he committed this offence. 

“Later, you realised Yannick Cupido had died and you knew Joseph was responsible, but you did not tell police. You gave misleading statements to police and you continued to lie after you had been arrested.”

Judge Nawaz the text exchange between Cupido and Joseph ‘ramped up tensions’. 

He added: “Neither was willing to back down, this was all a face-saving exercise. 

“He [Joseph] had been made to look foolish and he was not going to stand for that. 

“This was the catalyst for what was to follow.”

The Judge said Joseph was looking for Cupido just after midnight on February 14, who he accepted had a bottle with him but said there was no evidence he fashioned it as a weapon. 

“He may have initially acted to defend himself, but that must have been to a very limited degree, the jury must have found”, Judge Nawaz continued. 

O’Neal Joseph was sentenced to life imprisonment to serve a minimum term of 24 years in custody for one count of murder and one count of possession of a knife. 

Reece Weatherburn was sentenced to three years imprisonment for two counts of assisting an offender and one count of a breach of order. 

The pair were sentenced at Reading Crown Court on Wednesday, November 24.