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Last Updated: Friday, 22 June 2007, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Boys admit 'happy slap' killing
Peter Ramsey
Peter Ramsey, a Canadian, died three days after being attacked
Two teenagers have been detained for killing an artist in a so-called "happy slapping" attack.

Peter Ramsey, 40, died in hospital on 13 October last year, three days after being set upon near Tesco Express in the Millbrook area of Southampton.

One youth punched him and the other slapped him in an attack they had planned to film on a mobile phone.

The youths, aged 13 and 15 at the time and who cannot be named for legal reasons, had admitted manslaughter.

They were sentenced at Winchester Crown Court on Friday.

The court was told the boys hatched a plan to "happy slap" Mr Ramsay, of Green Park Road, Millbrook, as part of a campaign against the Canadian-born father-of-two.

They followed Mr Ramsey and his girlfriend, Vicky Lewis, home from the supermarket when the youngest boy slapped him and the elder boy punched him hard in the face.

The event was made worse by an intention to record the attack on the telephone as if to boast
Mr Justice Irwin

One of the group had been asked to film the attack on his camera phone but refused.

Justin Gau, prosecuting, told the court: "This is a very sad case where anti-social behaviour turned to tragedy, where happy slapping turned to manslaughter."

Mr Ramsey fell over like "a domino" and hit his head on the concrete floor, said Mr Gau.

The boys ran off after the attack but later turned themselves in.

Mr Ramsey returned home, but late that evening Miss Lewis found him collapsed and covered in blood in their bedroom.

Fresh start

Miss Lewis described her boyfriend as a "gentle giant" in her victim impact statement, which was read out in court.

He had left his native Canada, where he had two teenage children, for a fresh start in the UK.

Whenever he went to shop he would get anxious in case they were going to be there
Vicky Lewis, victim's girlfriend

He was a talented artist and former bodybuilder but had become an alcoholic, the court heard.

Miss Lewis said: "He really couldn't understand why he was being picked on.

"He was by nature a good-humoured gentle giant, but the abuse from the group changed him.

"Whenever he went to shop he would get anxious in case they were going to be there."

The last thing Mr Ramsey said to her was sorry.

Miss Lewis added: "He apologised to me for not being able to make it to the bathroom when he fell on the floor."

Life support machine

Mr Ramsey was operated on twice at Southampton General Hospital and suffered two strokes.

His life support machine was switched off on 13 October.

The court was told both boys had suffered domestic violence, and had previous records for robbery.

Mr Justice Irwin, sentencing the boys, said: "You two killed Peter Ramsey by hitting him.

"You did not intend to do that or to cause him really serious harm, that is the distinction between manslaughter and murder, but you killed him nonetheless.

"The event was made worse by an intention to record the attack on the telephone as if to boast of it rather than to be ashamed of it."

'Learn their lesson'

The eldest boy could be eligible for release on licence in about 10 months, after he was told he would serve 18 months of a three-year sentence minus 250 days already served.

The younger boy will be eligible for release on licence in about eight months, after he was detained for two-and-a-half years and told he would serve at least 15 months minus 233 days already served.

Miss Lewis said, in a statement, that she was "very happy" with the sentences.

"We feel he [the judge] did the best he could in the circumstances."


SEE ALSO
Attack victim dies from injuries
13 Oct 06 |  Hampshire

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