Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Colwyn Bay - Judge unable to give three youths guilty of violent assault in Colwyn Bay life sentences due to their age

Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 December, 2004, 17:47 GMT 
Prosecutors explain attack charge
Court graphic
The judge said local people would share his concern
Prosecutors are to explain to a judge why three teenagers faced minor wounding charges after fracturing a man's skull.Judge Merfyn Hughes called for an inquiry because he was unable to impose tougher sentences.
They were first charged with grievous bodily harm with intent but guilty pleas to lesser charges were accepted.
The chief crown prosecutor has called for a report so he can explain the decision to the judge.
John Jones, 18, Matthew O'Neill, 18, and Kane WIlliams, 17, were charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent after kicking and punching DJ Darren Roberts, from Colwyn Bay, as he lay on the ground.
Chester Crown Court heard that one of the defendants had already knocked him to the floor by hitting him with a wooden club.
But Judge Hughes was only able to send Jones to a young offenders' institution for four years, and both O'Neill and Williams for 12 months because of sentencing limits on the charge of wounding.
They were also given five-year anti-social behaviour orders (asbos).
Causing grievous bodily harm with intent carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Judge Hughes said the sentences he imposed "do not, in my opinion, protect the public" and sent a request to the Director of Public Prosecutions for an inquiry into the CPS agreement.
In a statement, the Crown Prosecution Service said it had "observed" the comments made by the judge.
"The decision to alter the charges was taken on the morning of the trial on the advice of counsel," the statement said.
"The chief crown prosecutor, Ed Beltrami, has called for a report from both the reviewing lawyer and counsel.
"His intention thereafter is to write to the learned judge to explain the decision reached."
The court had heard Jones, O'Neill and Williams had histories of violent offending and police found an assortment of weapons at their homes during a raid.
All three, from the village of Mochdre, Colwyn Bay, had launched an unprovoked attack on Mr Roberts as he walked through the town.
Since the attack, Mr Roberts has suffered from headaches, had difficulty sleeping, and become afraid for his own safety. 

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