Josh Hirst verdict: Family speak of loss

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The family of Josh Hirst have spoken of their loss after two men were found guilty of his murder.

Today (Friday) at Leeds Crown Court Joe Church, 21, of Mirfield and Aaron Smith, 18, of Emley were found guilty of murdering the 20-year-old outside his home in Mirfield last August.

Mr Hirst’s family, father Terry, mother Julie and brother Jon said: “Our lives have been devastated by the loss of Josh.

“We loved him so much and in turn he was loved by so many and brought joy, loyalty and happiness into the lives of others.

“On Friday 3rd August 2012, he went out to celebrate his girlfriends birthday and we were so proud of how handsome and smart he looked.

“We never got to see Josh celebrate his 21st birthday and we feel like we have been robbed by the evil and cowardly attack on him.

“He was a brave young man that night despite the horrific injuries he had received.

“A beautiful kind human being has been taken from his loving Mother, Father and Brother and is greatly missed.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank West Yorkshire Police for their hard work and dedication into achieving justice for our Josh.”

Speaking after the verdict Senior Investigating Officer, DCI Chris Walker, said : “We welcome the guilty verdicts for Smith, Church and today for an utterly cowardly attack in which they lay in wait for Josh wearing masks, and then subjected him to a truly brutal assault.

“This was an attack which was clearly pre-meditated and demonstrated a shocking level of violence, sadly resulting in this young man’s death.

“Their actions have also clearly had a dreadful impact on Josh’s family who witnessed the immediate impact of the attack as they went to the aid of their son.

“The crime scene we saw as police officers was horrific and I wish to pay tribute to their bravery and dignity in having to try and cope with the impact of this appalling crime.

“I hope that seeing Smith and Church convicted and face justice may, in time, bring them some closure and our thoughts reman with them.”

Church and Smith are due to be sentenced on Thursday.

See next week’s editions for more.