Teens’ jail terms slashed for ‘thuggery’

Ben Haynes
Ben Haynes

Two teenagers who left a father brain damaged and wheelchair-bound after stamping on him during a savage attack in Heckmondwike have had their sentences slashed on appeal by top judges.

Ryan Jones, 17, and Ben Haynes, 18, attacked 34-year-old Kevin Wood in Heckmondwike, in October last year, inflicting blows which caused a fractured skull and brain damage.

They ran off, leaving him for dead.

Mr Wood suffered brain injuries so severe that he cannot walk, and is likely to be dependent on his family for the rest of his life.

Jones, of Holme Street, Littletown, was sentenced to eight years, and Haynes, of Well Street, Liversedge, to nine years, after each pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent at Leeds Crown Court on March 14 this year.

Last Thursday Lady Justice Rafferty, Mr Justice Mitting and Mr Justice Lloyd-Jones, sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, cut Jones’s sentence to six and a half years and Haynes’s to seven, after ruling that their young ages ought to have counted more towards mitigation.

The court heard they kicked and stamped on Mr Wood, despite pleas from their friends to walk away.

The incident was sparked when the group laughed at Mr Wood and he confronted them.

Mr Wood who was walking his dog, and who already had a cast on his arm from a previous injury, was left unconscious on the ground, with his dog waiting at his side, for more than seven hours until a passer-by alerted the emergency services.

But by that time he had lapsed into a coma and his fractured skull, combined with a lung injury, left him with serious and permanent disabilities.

Lady Justice Rafferty told the court: “The victim was alone, in drink and had his arm in plaster.

“Mr Wood may have been intimidating but he was never violent. Jones threw the first punch. The reaction of these two was totally unjustified. Any possible provocation was irrelevant.

“Their mindless violence has ruined a man’s life and seriously affected his family.

“The sentences must reflect the harm they had done. This was a chronicle of violence difficult to bring to life on the page,” she added.

“These two appellants have ruined many lives- that of the young man who lay on the ground, never to recover, never to walk or speak, and those of the family, remembering but never seeing again the young man they had known.”

But she concluded that the sentences for this “mob-handed thuggery” had been too high, given the young ages and guilty pleas of the two teenagers.

She allowed the appeals and cut the two sentences, after finding they were ‘manifestly excessive’.