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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 December 2005, 17:27 GMT
Feral pack who thrived on violence
By Chris Summers
BBC News Website

Four people have been convicted of killing an innocent man during a night of violence in London, some of which was allegedly filmed on a mobile phone. Was it "violence for violence's sake" ?

Malcolm McDowell in a scene from Clockwork Orange
The violence was reminiscent of scenes in Clockwork Orange

The prime minister, who has set out to make "respect" a key theme of his third term, may want to take a close look at the attack which took place only a few hundred yards from the Houses of Parliament.

In the early hours of Saturday 30 October 2004 a gang attacked five separate groups of people in a small area on the South Bank of the river Thames in central London.

Some of their victims escaped with only minor injuries but one - David Morley - was taken to the nearby St Thomas' Hospital where he died 17 hours later after suffering a ruptured spleen and massive blood loss.

Homophobia not a motive

When news of the killing hit the newspapers there was speculation the motive had been homophobia.

THE ACCUSED
The defendants (inc Reece Sargeant, Barry Lee and Darren Case)
Reece Sargeant, 21 - Guilty of manslaughter
Darren Case, 18 - Guilty of manslaughter
Girl, 15 (cannot be named for legal reasons)- Guilty of manslaughter
Youth, 17 (cannot be named for legal reasons) - Guilty of manslaughter
Barry Lee, 20 - Not Guilty
Youth, 17 -Not Guilty

Mr Morley, who was gay, worked as a barman at the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho and had survived David Copeland's murderous nail bomb attack in 1999.

But the attacks were not homophobic and Mr Morley, like the other victims, had simply been chosen at random.

Although the attack on Mr Morley was the most ferocious of the night the gang - who came from nearby Lambeth - did not stop.

Instead they conducted three more attacks, one of which was allegedly filmed on a mobile phone camera.

Within a week of the attacks, police had identified their suspects and six people were eventually arrested and brought to trial at the Old Bailey.

A jury acquitted Barry Lee, 20, Reece Sargeant, 21, Darren Case, 18, two 17-year-old boys and a girl, aged 15, of murder.

Guilty

But on 14 December, Sargeant, Case, a 17-year-old youth and the 15-year-old girl were found guilty of manslaughter.

They were remanded in custody for pre-sentence reports and will be sentenced on 23 January.

David Morley, who survived the Admiral Duncan bomb
David Morley, who was killed, had been picked on at random

At the trial an education officer at Feltham Young Offender Institution in west London said one of the 17-year-olds spoke about the incident while he was being held on remand.

Munaza Khan said: "He just described that he was a bystander watching.

"He just mentioned there was a girl there. The girl was his co-defendant's ex girlfriend.

"It was because of her they did what they did. She wanted to film it on her video phone. She wanted to film people being beaten up.

"It was for some research project or she wanted to put it on the internet and distribute the films."

Richard Horwell, prosecuting, said: "The lives of these defendants held such little interest that they set out on a plan to use violence for its own sake.

It was random, indiscriminate violence for what can only have been pleasure
Richard Horwell
Prosecutor

"It was random, indiscriminate violence for what can only have been pleasure. Violence which on one occasion was recorded on a camera in a mobile phone."

One of the 17-year-olds told the court that when they approached Mr Morley and his friend Alastair Whiteside the girl said to them: "We're filming a documentary about happy slapping."

The gang then set about the pair, beating them savagely.

The jury was shown CCTV footage of the fifth and final attack - on a homeless man, Wayne Miller, who was sleeping in a doorway near Waterloo station.

In it the girl, who was aged 14 at the time of the attack, could be seen apparently filming the attack on a mobile phone.

She later told police she had simply been checking images which had already been taken on the camera, but Mr Horwell said her explanation was simply unbelievable.

No images or videos of the violence were found on any of the defendants' mobile phones.

A mobile phone camera
It was because of her they did what they did. She wanted to film it on her video phone. She wanted to film people being beaten up
Defendant, 17

The 17-year-old told the court the girl had filmed the attack on Mr Morley and he said they watched the video footage on the phone after returning to a block of flats in Lambeth.

Defence counsel Orlando Pownall QC asked him: "How did the six of you react to what was shown?"

The teenager, softly spoken and contrite, answered: "At the time we thought it was funny."

"Do you think it's funny now?"

"No," he replied.

The defendants, faced with insurmountable evidence, admitted they were the six people involved but they used a "cut-throat" defence, blaming each other for the violence and trying to play down their own involvement.

But Mr Horwell said there was no doubt the night of violence had been a "joint enterprise" and none of the defendants had shown any sign of walking away or trying to halt the attacks.

'Kicked like a football'

One of the most sickening aspects was a final kick to the head suffered by Mr Morley and delivered by the girl.

Mr Horwell said: "She kicked Mr Morley's head as if it was a football...Someone then said 'That's enough, let's go'."

What on Earth could have possessed a 14-year-old girl to carry out such an act? Many people would like to know.

NIGHT OF VIOLENCE
1. David Dobson assaulted in Lower Marsh at 2.30am. He runs away.
2. David Morley and his friend Alastair Whiteside attacked just before 3am as they sit on a bench on the South Bank. Mr Whiteside survives but Mr Morley dies later in hospital.
3. Frank Pitassio, Daniel Oliviera, and Vincenzo Biasizzo, escape serious injury after another attack on the other side of Hungerford Bridge just after 3am. Mr Pitassio's mobile phone is stolen.
4. At 3.15am Nigel Elliott is beaten over the head with a beer bottle in Jubilee Gardens (close to the London Eye). He is not badly hurt.
5. Wayne Miller, who had been sleeping in a doorway in Leake Street (near Waterloo station), is punched and kicked. The attack, at around 3.30am, is caught on CCTV.




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