Boy, 13, jailed indefinitely for bonfire murder

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Boy, 13, jailed indefinitely for bonfire murder

Postby DrachenSachen » Fri Apr 11, 2008 9:09 pm

Friday, 11 April 2008

Boy sentenced for bonfire killing

The youthful face of pure and despicable evil

A 13-year-old boy has been sent to secure accommodation indefinitely for battering a man to death and throwing his body on a bonfire.

Jamie Smith admitting murdering Stephen Croft, 35, in November last year in Birkenhead, Merseyside, after escaping from his Lancashire care home.

Smith will serve a minimum of 13 years in secure accommodation, the Recorder of Liverpool Henry Globe QC said.

Liverpool Crown Court heard it was "a sustained attack on a helpless man".

The court was told Mr Croft, who developed a drink problem after an industrial accident, was nearly five times the legal drink-drive limit and was extremely vulnerable.

David Turner QC, prosecuting, said the attack was apparently motiveless, though Mr Croft's cigarette papers, lighter and tobacco were found on Smith when he was arrested.

The judge said he was "satisfied that the attack was motivated in part" by Smith's "desire to steal".

He also lifted the previous restrictions on identifying Smith.

Smith claimed he punched and kicked his victim to death because he was angry his family and care staff tried to trick him into returning to his care home.

Hours before he killed Mr Croft, Smith fled the Higher Cockham Farm home in Haslingden, Lancashire.

When staff arrived at his Birkenhead home to take him back to Haslingden, Smith punched the windows, threatened to light a firework in his pocket then ran off.

Soon after, he stumbled across Mr Croft, who was alone, on wasteland and watching the bonfire.


In the next few hours paramedics and police visited the scene after reports a man had burned his hands.

But Mr Croft refused to go to hospital.

Soon after, fuelled by cider and vodka, Smith battered his victim.

Outlining his injuries, Mr Turner said Smith might have suffocated Mr Croft.

He said: "The pathologist found considerable damage to the face of the deceased.

When Smith was arrested his clothes were splashed with Mr Croft's blood.

Smith maintained his innocence until the end of February when he pleaded guilty to murder.

David Steer QC, defending, said his client, who was a suicide risk, regretted the pain he caused Mr Croft's family.

But sentencing Smith to 13 years before he is eligible for parole, the judge said he posed a very high risk of re-offending and was a high danger to the public.

A family statement issued by Sarah Croft, the victim's sister said: "Stephen's life was taken in such a horrific and needless manner.

She added that the sentence was too lenient: "The punishment for such a violent, mindless crime is for him to know he will be fed, watered, protected, educated and supposedly rehabilitated - all at the taxpayers' expense."

Steve Maddox, chief executive of Wirral Council, said a review was under way involving all agencies that were involved with Smith's care. ... 342504.stm
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