Three teenage boys sentenced for murder

Dorans

Conor Doran (17), his brother Brandon Doran (14) and Simon Evans (14) were sentenced for the murder of Kevin Bennett (53) on Monday 15 April 2013.

 The boys attacked him as he slept outside a supermarket in the early hours of 17 August 2012. Mr Bennett suffered a fractured eye socket, a collapsed lung and a broken rib cage. He died in hospital six days later after an infection set in causing organ failure.

 The post mortem showed that his injuries were consistent with multiple kicks or punches to the body.

 There was a trial at Liverpool Crown Court, with the boys having pleaded not guilty. They were convicted after a 4 week trial in February 2013.

 The BBC reported:

The jury was told Connor Doran had goaded Evans by saying: “I bet you haven’t got it in you to do him in.”

Evans later told his friend: “I started kicking him, I booted him and now he’s dead.”

Brandon Doran stood lookout as the attack took place, the prosecution said.

Mr Bennett was described as “vulnerable” and a “heavy drinker” by the prosecution.

Judge’s remarks

 Judge Clement Goldstone QC, the Recorder of Liverpool, said: “I think it is a desperately sad reflection on this society that each of you was party to serious violence purely for the sake of it.”

This is instructive in so far as the motive – or lack of – for the offence. That will have had an impact on the sentence as the courts are often concerned when there is little or no explanation for gratuitous violence leading to serious injury or death.

 Sentence

 It appears that all three were sentenced to detention at HM’s pleasure – the sentence for those aged 10-17 convicted of murder. This sentence is applicable when it appears to the court that the defendant was under the age of 18 when the offence was committed. An example of this is R v Norris and Dobson (the Stephen Lawrence killers). They were aged under 18 at the time of the offence, but 35 and 36 when sentenced.

 The minimum terms for murder can be seen here. As the boys are under 18, the starting point is 12 years. A brief explanation of murder sentencing for youths can be seen here.

As the offence was murder, the sentences are indeterminate. That means that there is a minimum term set by the Judge that must be served before release can be considered. Release is considered after that period has been served and on recommendation by the parole board, once the future risk to the public has been considered.

 Conor Doran – labelled the leader of the pack by the Judge – was sentenced to a minimum of 12 years.

 Simon Evans was sentenced to a minimum of 8 years.

Brandon Doran was sentenced to a minimum of 6 years.

It was reported that Brandon acted as a lookout during the attack. On the basis of joint enterprise, it is not necessary that all are involved in all the criminality. It is sufficient that each played his part. For example, in an offence of burglary, one may drive the actual burglars to the scene, one may act as a look out, one may break in and another enters the house. All would be guilty and the sentences would reflect both their individual involvement but also the wider criminal context of their actions.

Release

Life prisoners are released as detailed above. However, they:

  • are subject to a life licence which remains in force for the duration of their natural life;
  • may be recalled to prison at any time to continue serving their life sentence if it is considered necessary to protect the public

A family affair

The BBC reported that the Doran brothers’ mother, Linda Doran, 42, was jailed for 30 months after being convicted by the jury of perverting the course of justice by providing false alibis for her sons.

Her eldest son, Ryan, 23, was convicted of murder and jailed for life in October after he attacked a stranger with a bottle in a chip shop.

Another of her sons, Jordan, 21, was jailed for six months in February for contempt of court after using a mobile phone to capture images of the courtroom during the trial of his brothers and mother.

Comment

As we do not (yet) have the sentencing remarks it is difficult to properly assess the sentence. We know the starting point is 12 years because they are under 18. The usual aggravating and mitigating factors apply – so it is necessary to consider such factors as the vulnerability of the victim, (sleeping rough and a heavy alcohol abuser) and the pain and suffering endured by Mr Bennett prior to his death.

There would be a reduction in the sentences for Brandon and Simon as a result of their youth as age and maturity are very relevant to culpability. Clearly Conor Dorran, aged 17 and therefore almost an adult, is far more culpable. In addition to this, he was described as the ‘leader’. A reduction may have been made for his age and therefore a sentence of 12 years was imposed.

Of course there were no guilty pleas and so there could be no reductions for that. A truly sad case, the consequences of which will be felt by Mr Bennett’s family, but also the families of the boys.

Expect an appeal, as there is little for them to lose.

News reports can be seen here and here.

Image courtesy of the BBC.

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