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Last Updated: Monday, 10 April 2006, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Two guilty of sixth-former murder
Ben Bellamy

Two Swansea teenagers have been found guilty of murdering sixth-form student Ben Bellamy last year.

The jury at Swansea Crown Court found Joel Taylor, 18, and Joshua Thomas, 16, guilty of the murder in September 2005.

Andrew Rafferty, 18, also from Swansea, was acquitted of Ben's murder but found guilty of manslaughter.

Ben, from Sketty Park, Swansea, was attacked and robbed while walking home after a night out in Mumbles. He was beaten and left to drown in the sea.

Sentencing was adjourned until a later date.

The judge lifted an order banning the naming of Thomas, who was also found guilty of robbery. His co-defendants had admitted robbing Ben.

Ben's uncle Tony Rees, surrounded by family
We are angry that those responsible have not shown any remorse for their actions or offered any explanation
Tony Rees, Ben's uncle

After the verdicts, Ben's uncle Tony Rees read out a brief family statement, thanking the people of Swansea and police for the "tremendous support" they had shown since the "horrific murder" on 18 September.

He said: "We are angry that those responsible have not shown any remorse for their actions or offered any explanation either on their arrest or at court for the evil they participated in on that night."

"There are other people who could have offered a lot more information about what happened to Ben but chose not to.

"No matter what the final verdict is, the nightmare will continue for us, and we have to live with the pain and anger without Ben."

A court packed with relatives and friends of the murdered schoolboy stood in silence as the verdicts were delivered one by one by the jury.

Taylor and Thomas stood motionless as both were unanimously found guilty of murder.

Rafferty appeared equally unmoved as the jury cleared him of murder but found him guilty of manslaughter.

Clockwise from top left: Andrew Rafferty, Joel Taylor and Joshua Thomas
The three befriended Ben as he walked home from a Mumbles club

Moments after the verdicts were delivered, Judge Roderick Evans withdrew the anonymity which had protected the 16-year-old's identity throughout the trial.

Judge Evans said the three would remain in custody until sentencing, which he said would probably be in more than three weeks' time.

The five-week trial heard that Ben had been returning from a party at a nightclub when he fell into company with the teenagers who would kill him.

After befriending Ben, they lured him to the beach where they planned to steal his mobile phone and cash card.

Once on the beach he was stamped on, punched and kicked and forced to hand over the pin number of his card.

Rafferty then headed to the nearest cash machine with Ben's card, but the attack against the schoolboy continued on the beach.

Taylor and Thomas are also said to have then stripped an already gravely injured Ben of his clothes and dragged and carried him into the sea to drown.

'Intolerable loss'

His body was discovered washed up on the beach less than five hours later by a morning jogger.

Barristers for the two young men and the 16-year-old argued that there had been no motive for murder and the case against them had not been proven.

But prosecution evidence included medical reports indicating Ben had suffered some brain injury in the attack.

Chris Jones, Senior Crown Prosecutor in charge of the case, said Ben's "promising future" had been "cruelly" taken away by the actions of the defendants.

He added: "Whilst we are pleased with the outcome of the case, our thoughts and prayers are with his family who have behaved with enormous dignity and courage throughout the trial in the face of, at times, very distressing evidence.

"They continue to bear an intolerable loss."


BBC NEWS:VIDEO AND AUDIO
Ben had been at a party hours before he was killed



SEE ALSO:
Party night that ended in murder
10 Apr 06 |  South West Wales
Untimely death of a 'model pupil'
10 Apr 06 |  South West Wales
Ben Bellamy murder jury sent home
07 Apr 06 |  South West Wales
Boy, 16, 'did not put Ben in sea'
06 Apr 06 |  South West Wales


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