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Wednesday, 11 July, 2001, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK
Men admit killing 'paedophile'
Court graphic
Three men who beat a friend to death after accusing him of molesting a little girl have admitted his manslaughter.

The body of Richard Hughes, 29, was discovered five days after he was attacked by the trio, who had branded him a paedophile.

The beating was so severe that a witness who saw Mr Hughes thought he was made up for a fancy-dress party.

A post-mortem examination revealed he had bled to death from a deep cut lip.

James Robinson, Paul Stanton and Justin Byles, all from Southampton, had denied charges of murder and manslaughter.

However, after lengthy legal arguments they changed their pleas to guilty to manslaughter, on the grounds each had played a part in the killing in November 2000.

Two-day deadline

Not guilty verdicts were entered on the murder charges and the jury at Winchester Crown Court was discharged.

The court heard how the men had given Mr Hughes 48 hours to leave Southampton after accusing him of indecently assaulting a little girl in a Millbrook flat.

Stanton thought he had seen Mr Hughes touching the toddler inappropriately as the group sat drinking beer and listening to music.

Within seconds shouting had turned to violence and the furious occupants dragged Mr Hughes out of the sitting room.

Outside, Robinson, 20, of Darwin Road, Shirley repeatedly punched him up to 12 times in the face while wearing a chunky sovereign ring on his middle finger.

Sovereign ring

Jurors were shown evidence of how the size, shape and pattern of the injuries matched the distinctive gold ring.

Afterwards Mr Hughes was frog-marched by the other two men to a wooded cut near the Maybush pub, where Stanton, 22, of Varna Road, Freemantle, struck him in the ribs.

Byles, 26, of Irving Road, Maybush, then hit him about 10 times on the head with a beer bottle, until the glass smashed and then continued to strike him with the bottle.

The court heard Mr Hughes' injuries were so severe that a witness who saw him staggering home thought he had been made up for a fancy dress party.

Later the pair bragged about giving Mr Hughes "a good kicking".

The men were detained by police following the discovery of Mr Hughes' body in his heavily bloodstained flat at Millbrook Road West.

Mr Justice Toulson remanded the men in custody while pre-sentence reports were prepared.

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