Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wroughton Hammer Attack Update

Remember the Wroughton hammer attack, when the BBC reported that a person had been attacked with a hammer by some other persons ?

The trial has begun of the accused.

A gang battered a schoolboy to the brink of death with a claw hammer in a scene straight out of a Quentin Tarantino film, a court heard yesterday. Henry Webster, 16, was struck with such force that an imprint of the hammer was left on his skull, fracturing it in three places.

The 6ft 2in rugby player, who needed emergency surgery, still feels the effects of the "savage beating" by 16 Asian youths, Bristol Crown Court was told. Four teenagers - Wasif Khan, 18, Amjad Qazi, 19, and two boys aged 15 and 16, who cannot be named for legal reasons - deny charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Defendant Amjad Qazi

The court heard how a fight "blew out of nothing" in January last year, after Henry ran into a group of Asian boys in a corridor at Ridgeway School in Wroughton, Swindon. After a brief argument, he was asked to meet the 15-year- old defendant at the school tennis courts later that day.

Mr Patrick said: "It was to be a fair fight. A one- on- one - or so Henry thought. "But he had not reckoned on the fact it was not to be one-on-one - it was going to be significantly more."

The court heard how the defendant had texted or telephoned a group of friends from Swindon, who travelled to the 1,400-pupil school especially for the fight.

In a video interview filmed six days after the attack and shown to the jury yesterday, Henry told police he tried to walk away but the group ambushed him. "I stood around for a bit, then these men came through the gate and looked around," he said. "[The 15-year-old] was pointing at me and saying "He's the one, he's the one. A man in a black jacket pushed me and, as I walked away, he started punching me. I heard screams, then I was punched in the back of my head. I was curled up on the floor but they repeatedly kept hitting me. Then I felt the hammer hit the back of my head. I know it was a hammer because if it was a punch, your vision does not change. As I got hit, my vision turned to stars - it all separated, what I could see, because it was so powerful."

Witnesses to the assault saw his attackers run off, punching the air and shouting: "We've done it."

Doctors have told Henry he will never recover from the attack

Henry said: "The hammer had gone through my head, through my skull and into the fluid in my brain. I have been told I will never recover because the brain cells will not reform."

The trial continues.

I'll keep you posted.

UPDATE - you'd never guess the line the defence are taking.

Schoolboy Henry Webster has denied claims that racist insults were made to the gang of Asian youths accused of battering him with a claw hammer ...

Facing questions from defence barristers at Bristol Crown Court, Henry, a former rugby prop forward, insisted there had been no racial tension with his alleged attackers. Referring to an exchange before the brutal attack took place, Robin Shellard, representing Qazi, said: "I am suggesting that it was shouted to the group - where are your P*** mates?' "Was that what you heard?"

Henry replied: "No."

A 16-year-old witness of the attack later described the moment one of the group pulled the claw hammer out of their sleeve.

The boy, who cannot be named, said: "I was just inside the tennis courts.

"One guy pulled the hammer out of his sleeve and just smacked him.

"As soon as he hit Henry, he fell to the ground. As he lay there bleeding, people kept kicking him.

"They eventually ran off. I was right next to Henry at this point and asked him if he was all right.

"All I remember next was the sound of a car screeching away."

Henry's head was struck with such force that a hammer indent had been left on his skull. Paramedics described his injuries as life-threatening.

The court heard that Henry had agreed to take part in a one-on-one brawl with another Ridgeway pupil after "barging" into a group of Asian boys in a corridor.

But a large group of Asian males travelled from Swindon to Wroughton for the fight, following a sequence of phone calls and text messages.

The trial continues.

I suppose Mr Shellard is doing the obvious thing for his client. I'm just trying to imagine a defence solicitor trying that one if a large gang of white thugs had nearly killed a single Asian kid.

There's a video report at this BBC page, in which the reporter describes the attack by "a gang of men". The A-word, the M-word, and the R-word (except in the case of Henry Webster) are conspicuous by their absence.

There'll be a second trial of other defendants "to make it easier to manage".

The second trial will be held in February. Kamren Khan, 19, Javed Khan, 20, Mizanur Rahman, 20, Roubel Meah, 20, Aqduss Rauf, 18, Bilal Yaqub, 18, Mahbob Ali, 18, and two youths who cannot be named are accused of conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm for their involvement in planning the attack.

It's Non-Stop Torture In The Community

To the names of Brent Martin, David Atherton, Steven Hoskin and Kevin Davies, "vulnerable individuals" living "in the community" who were abused, tortured and killed we add the name of Stephen Gale.

A 42-year-old Leicester man has been jailed for 22 years and nine months after pleading guilty to the murder of his housemate at Leicester Crown Court. Andrew Green, from Garth Avenue, had earlier admitted murdering Steven Gale, 28, at the home they shared with two women in Mowmacre Hill in October 2006. Lisa Smith, 27, and Green's 31-year-old wife Claudette both admitted perverting the course of justice.

Green, Smith and Green - nice people.

Post-mortem tests showed the victim was assaulted in the days before his death. Det Supt Stuart Prior said Mr Gale had been starved and beaten. "We believe we identified a systematic abuse of Steven, which consisted of both assaults and also failing to properly feed him and allow him to have proper meals," the officer said. "Andrew Green very much took the controlling influence in the household and dominated the people living in the property, and that included Steven."

Police said at the time of his death the victim weighed just four stone, despite his 5'11" height.

During the trial it become apparent that both the authorities and the victim's family had had not idea what he was going through. Neighbours living below reported hearing beatings in the flat three or four times a week. In May 2006 police were called to the flat when Mr Gale tried to escape by jumping from a third floor bathroom window after a row. Green's defence barrister told the court police and social services had visited Steven Gale at his flat on a number of occasions leading up to his death but nobody intervened.

Me no understand this bit :

Melanie Garner who lived below the victim said she heard shouting and screaming from the flat two to three times a week. "We rang the social services, they came out but nothing was done, nothing got resolved. Surely they could see that he wasn't right. He was just skin and bone, clothes hung off him," she said.

A social services spokesperson said they had assessed Steven, who said he did not want help, and judged him capable of looking after himself. Deborah Kitson, director of the Ann Craft Trust, which works to protect adults with learning disabilities, said there was little more the authorities could do.

"What went wrong for Steven was that when he made cries for help, when the agencies police and social services responded, he insisted that he was happy where he was he and wanted to stay there. Currently there is very little that can be done if the adult makes that choice."

One of the characteristics of all the recent killings is that the victims refused - presumably out of fear - to dob in their abusers. Surely the Ann Craft Trust should realise this ? Otherwise what's the point of their existence as an organisation "acting Against the Abuse of People with Learning Disabilities" ?

A look at their "campaigns" page isn't terribly encouraging.

"Our campaigning focuses on injustices in the legal system" - I'm pretty sure no lawyers have beaten any "naturals" to death lately.

Oh Lordy - "Disability Hate Crime". I suppose the idea is that although the current criminal justice system is totally unable to enforce existing laws on anti-social behaviour - witness the tragic fates of Christine Lakinski and the Pilkington family - they hope to add the disabled to the list of "protected species" aka designated victim groups.

More at the Leicester Mercury :

Parents of a vulnerable man beaten to death by his unofficial carer today branded his killer an "evil, wicked man". Stephen Gale, who had special needs, was subjected to months of torment, violence, starvation and abuse by Andrew Green at their shared home in Mowmacre Hill, Leicester. Yesterday, Mr Gale's family cheered in court as Green was jailed for nearly 23 years.

Mr Gale's mother Maureen, 55, said: "Green is an evil, wicked man. We are absolutely elated that he got more than 22 years and we feel we have got justice for the family and for Stephen. "I especially loved it when the judge said, 'take him down' and he was led away to start his sentence. It's been a year now since we lost our son and nothing will ever bring him back, but he is safe and at rest now."

When he died, the 28-year-old weighed less than six stone, half the normal body weight for his 5ft 11ins frame. A final fatal attack on October 25 last year left Mr Gale with a catalogue of injuries. As Stephen's body lay on the floor of the shared home in Garth Avenue, Green callously ordered his wife, Claudette (31), and housemate, Lisa Smith (27), to lie to police, blaming someone else for the injuries.

Green (41), who admitted murder, was the bullying "leader of the pack," of the shared dysfunctional household. He controlled the finances, and took Steven's benefit money and cash sent by Mr and Mrs Gale, of Little Hampton, Sussex, who had no idea of their son's terrifying ordeal. Nirmal Shant, prosecuting, said neighbours had seen Green, and occasionally the two women, attacking the victim in the street. She said Stephen once tried to escape a beating by leaping out of an upstairs window, but he did not complain of mistreatment. He died from multiple injuries, internal bleeding and shock. Miss Shant said: "The fatal attack was sustained. He fell to the ground and continued to be attacked, trying what little he could to defend himself and was left for dead for some time before the ambulance was called."

Green, who has an IQ of 72, in the bottom three per cent of the population, told police another man had attacked Mr Gale away from the home. He told officers: "I was like a carer for Steve and looked after him for so long. He meant the world to me."

The co-accused initially backed up his story. Claudette Green and Smith, also said to be in the bottom range of intelligence, were both given nine-month jail sentences, suspended for two years, coupled with 12 months of supervision. All three admitted conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. It was accepted by the prosecution they had been under Green's "spell" and were manipulated by him.

Judge Michael Pert QC ordered Green to serve at least 22 years and nine months before he can be considered for release. He told Green: "It's a horrible tale. You styled yourself as his carer. You starved him, beat him, took his money and controlled every aspect of his life. He became so weak your continued beating killed him."

William Taylor QC, defending Andrew Green, criticised police and social services for not intervening. He said the violence had escalated over a year. Leicester City Council's social services said Stephen was offered help, but he had said he was fine.
Dad Malcolm, 57, said he spoke to his son on the telephone five days before his death. He said: "There was nothing to indicate he was in trouble or in pain. We can only think he was too frightened of Green. We've got to the point now where we can begin to draw a line under this, because Green has got everything he deserved."

I'll lay a pound to a pinch of **** that the sentence is reduced on appeal.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Yet More Torture In The Community

To the names of David Atherton, Steven Hoskin and Kevin Davies, "vulnerable individuals" living "in the community" who were abused, tortured and killed we have to add the name of Brent Martin.

A gang of youths beat and tortured a disabled man to death for "sport", a court heard today. Brent Martin was repeatedly punched, kicked, stamped on and head butted by three youths who bet each other £5 they could knock him out, the jury was told. The court heard that William Hughes and two teenagers, aged 16 and 17, chased Brent across two estates in Sunderland, subjecting him to a series of brutal assaults. Finally he was left dying in a pool of blood next to a parked car in Baxter Road, Town End Farm.

Hughes, 21, of Washington Road, Sunderland, and the 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, yesterday pleaded guilty to murder. The 17-year-old, also from Sunderland, went on trial today accused of murder.

Prosecutor Toby Hedworth QC told the court: "On the evening of August 23 last year on the Town End Farm Estate 23-year-old Brent Martin, a young man who had learning disabilities and had spent nine years of his life in psychiatric hospitals, was systematically attacked, demeaned, headbutted and beaten by people whom he misguidedly believed to be his friends. They behaved like a pack of animals as they repeatedly punched, kicked, headbutted and stamped on Brent Martin. That man Brent Martin never lifted an aggressive finger towards them and they did that to him until he was dead. They did that for their own sport."

The court was told that the attack began at a bus stop when the 17-year-old bet £5 that the 16-year-old - both were trained as boxers - could not knock out Brent with his right hand. The 16-year-old kissed his right fist, then his left fist before repeatedly knocking down Brent with single punches. The disabled man was then chased across the Town End Farm and Hylton Castle estates for around a mile where on at least four occasions he was attacked. Then Brent would get up, apologise to his attackers, shake their hands and would often buy alcohol and cigarettes for them. Mr Hedworth said the gang deliberately chose grassed areas to attack him so that he would not hit his head when they knocked him down.

"Say the Crown, they set quite deliberately to do such serious harm to Brent Martin for their own amusement and no doubt to make themselves look big among their friends," Mr Hedworth said. "As the attack went on, its nature, ferocity and perseverance make it quite clear they were not happy until he was dead. At that time they were using that violence towards him they had no such sensibility, no restraint, no qualms and no mercy."

As Brent was brutally beaten, eyewitnesses reported him shouting: "Nah, nah, no please." After the final murderous attack in Baxter Road the three posed for pictures, the court heard. One witness described them as "appearing to be happy from what they had done - getting a buzz out of it". The court heard that the 17-year-old defendant later told witnesses: "I am not going down for a muppet." Mr Hedworth said Brent had been admitted to psychiatric hospitals as a teenager and had only been released into the care of his mother three months before his death. Brent had saved £3,000 during his time in hospital and in the three months since his release he had spent almost all of it. "He was a gentle and easily-led child who thought everyone was his mate. People took advantage of him," the barrister said.

On the evening of the attack he asked his sister for money so he could "buy some drinks for the lads", warning her he would get his "head kicked in". Brent died in Sunderland Royal Hospital surrounded by his family, including his mother Brenda and twin sister Danielle, on August 25, having never regained consciousness. A post-mortem examination revealed he died from a massive head injury and had suffered at least 18 separate blows to the head and neck.

A 47-year-old woman - the mother of the 16-year-old - is also on trial accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice. She is accused of destroying evidence by washing the blood-stained clothing of her son.

Cut'n'paste is not the most creative form of blogging. But what is there to say, other than to tell the story ?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Luvvie Of The Week

The first director (replaced by Simon Curtis) of the BBC's adaptation/rewrite/travesty of Mrs Gaskell's Cranford, well and truly dobbed in by the wonderful Eileen Atkins.

The original director was let go after six weeks. “He didn’t really understand why it was funny. I don’t want to down this bloke, because he might turn out to be able to do wonderful, deeply left-wing, odd little films where nobody is a professional. But his one note to me – and I did not know what he was talking about – was, ‘You see, Eileen, if I went to a dinner and I saw that everybody round the table was a conservative, I would not sit down at that table. I want you to persuade me to sit down at that table.’ I hope, even not as an actor, you can see it’s not a great help.”

According to this fan site the original director was one Steve Hudson.

Monday, January 07, 2008

"the voluntary option has failed"

Just when you think there's nothing left you can despise them for ...

The government will reintroduce powers to ban strikes by prison officers in England and Wales, months after a surprise walkout by 20,000 staff. Justice Secretary Jack Straw said he had "no alternative" but to seek reserve powers, if a voluntary no-strike deal cannot be reached.

Now I can understand, even if I might disagree with, a government wishing to make strikes by key 'security' staff illegal. After all, the Army can't go on strike - it's called mutiny, something people used to get shot at dawn for.

But what really gets my goat is that this bunch of cretins repealed the existing (Tory-legislated) law themselves ! Although in fairness it must be said that Blunkett - for it was he - seems to have been pretty straight with them at the time.

Mr Blunkett admitted the new "partnership approach" would look "very odd" from the outside, but it was "actually for the best of outcomes".

"If we have got a no strike agreement and they wish to remove the order that imposed that nine years ago, and that will change the whole nature of their response to the reform agenda that I am putting in place, then it makes sense from my point of view to do that," he said. "Were the voluntary agreement to break down, we would have the authority and power under the law to bring back the requirements that would protect the prison service and protect the public. I think from their point of view the restoration of union rights and the ability to voluntarily agree with us rather than have something imposed makes a difference. It may be psychological. It may be a pyrrhic victory, but if that is necessary to change people's attitude and to back the new leadership who want reform, who want to modernise the system, then let's go for it."

So he was straight with them that the lifting of the ban didn't actually mean a thing. And what did the union, the POA, say at the time ?

"It means quite a lot to us - infact a great deal," he said. "What it does mean is that we have a right to ask our members their views, gives us a right to ballot our members for their views and it gives us a right to enter a partnership and a partnership of equals."

So the union were quite willing to be sweet-talked, although they knew it meant damn-all in reality ? What about the Tories, who when in power had introduced the ban ?

Shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin said the proposal seemed "perfectly sensible". "If you can have peaceful and cordial relationships and yet be sure that there will not be strikes in the prisons then this is a sensible relationship," he told the same Radio 4 programme.

So it's not (just) this government who think that government by signifier, by mood music, by gesture, is the way to go about things. The unions and the Tories agree. I have to despise them all.

The New Sound of Bexley Heath (video Parental Advisory)

"guns, shanks (knives - LT), hands - anyhow you want it bitch - we go any style"

The late Mr Faridon Alizada (aka Fighterrr), stabbed to death in a Kentish tower block on Saturday, and his chums Twisterrr and Presharrr take a quiet country stroll. Whether he hailed from Albania, as some report, or from Somalia or Afghanistan (isn't Faridon a Jordanian name ?), whether his peer group was the "West Street Boys", "Westhill", the "Younger Rebel Attackers", "Rebel Assault" or the "IVS - Invincible Souljahs", whether Twisterrr and Presharrr are the other two injured - is shrouded in mystery. (According to these comments he was an IVS 'operative').

But his 792 friends are in deep mourning.

Lisa-Jane recalls with affection "u n toro teliin me n tonii tha deal of get down or lay dwn biitch haha!! ".

Yeliz remembers "u was tellin me how ur gonna take over sidcup" - a dream forever to be unrealised.

Li'l Yeshh has fond memories of "When You Cum My College N Started Terorisin Every1"

You can see from his videos what a loss we have suffered.

Mr Edward Heath is rotating at 3,200 rpm.

(any comments can be posted on Facebook !)