Sean McHugh was just nineteen when he was stabbed to death in a Liverpool launderette last year.
Six teenagers were tried for the murder at Liverpool Crown Court. Reese O’Shaughnessy, 19, alleged to have been the ringleader, and Keyfer Dykstra, 14, were unanimously found guilty. Andrew Hewitt, 15, Corey Hewitt and Joseph McGill, both 14, but just 13 at the time, were found guilty by a majority of 10-2. The sixth teenager was found not guilty, and was released having spent seven months in custody awaiting sentence.
The jury spent over 17 hours in deliberations. The boys, said to be part of a gang known as “The Laneheads”, cornered Mr McHugh and attacked him with knives and what was described as a makeshift “sword stick” almost two feet long. He escaped, was found in an alleyway and later died in hospital.
Some of the joint-enterprise attack was captured on CCTV, and this, along with text messages sent between the boys, was shown during trial.
The defendants were subject to reporting restrictions throughout the trial, however following the verdicts Judge Goldstone QC, the Senior Resident Circuit Judge at Liverpool Crown Court, lifted the restrictions, saying:
“I am quite satisfied the criteria for the naming of the defendants is made out. It is in the public interest they be named, not to score points on behalf of the those who have been bereaved but because the public is entitled to know when boys of this age commit crimes of the gravity which these are.”
Detective Chief Inspector Andy O’Connor reportedly said:
“Since the attack, none of the five has shown any remorse for what they did to Sean and for the taking a young man’s life.
They have even laughed and joked in the dock at court despite being charged with such a serious offence.”
The boys face a life sentence for the murder. It is likely that the starting point for Reese O’Shaughnessy is likely to be 25 years, as he was over 18 at the time of the offence and brought a weapon to the scene. The others face a starting point of 12 years, due to their ages. The aggravating features, which may increase the overall term, are likely to be the planning involved in the offence. Age may be a mitigating factor.
Sentencing will take place on 2nd July to allow for the preparation of Pre-Sentence Reports.