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Last Updated: Friday, 28 November, 2003, 14:39 GMT
Boys guilty of killing 'Gypsy'
Johnny Delaney
Johnny Delaney lived on a travellers' site in Liverpool
Two youths have been found guilty of killing a teenage traveller.

Johnny Delaney, 15, was kicked about the head after an altercation between his friends and a group of teenagers in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, in May.

The boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, but are both aged 16, were found guilty of manslaughter on Friday, but were cleared of murder.

Chester Crown Court heard the fight had started after one of the gang of youths shouted a racist comment at Johnny's group, but the judge ruled the attack was not racially-motivated.

Johnny's father Patrick Delaney and the detective who led the investigation into the death said outside court they did believe it was a "racist attack".

Patrick Delaney
As far as we're concerned it was a racist attack
Patrick Delaney, Johnny's father
The court heard the attack took place on a playing field on 28 May.

One of the defendants had stamped on Johnny's head with both feet and said he deserved it because "he was only a... Gypsy".

But the judge said he did not believe the attack was racially motivated.

The attack on Johnny came after he and his group of friends ran away from the youths.

Johnny, who worked with his father laying tarmac, fell and was kicked as he lay on the ground.

Blamed each other

One girl who witnessed the attack said that, if she had to rate the kicks out of 10 for force, she would have given them a nine.

The defendants had both tried to blame each other for the fatal blows.

One said he heard Johnny groan as he lay on the floor before his accomplice walked back and stamped on him with both feet.

Johnny was taken to the Countess of Chester Hospital, but died shortly afterwards.

According to his family, he had faced prejudice before, and hated being picked on for being a "Gypsy".

Flowers left where Johnny Delaney was killed
Johnny Delaney was killed on playing fields in Ellesmere Port

After the verdict, Mr Delaney said: "There is no justice here. They were kicking my son like football.

"Are they going to let this happen to another Gypsy?

"Every travelling person is going to be upset by that verdict.

"As far as we're concerned it was a racist attack.

"I have lost my son for life. This has left a big hole in our family.

"He was a very polite lad who never did anything wrong. He didn't deserve this."

Detective Chief Inspector Jed Manley, of Cheshire Police, said: "It was recorded as a racially-motivated incident on the first day of the inquiry under the definition given by the Lawrence Inquiry because of certain comments made at the scene of the incident.

"I believe that the incident still falls within the definition we would use for a racially-motivated incident, and we believe that is appropriate."

Johnny Delaney's family were originally from Ireland and had lived in Derby and Wrexham before moving to a travellers' site in Liverpool in 2001.

The judge adjourned sentencing for three weeks.

The BBC's Judith Moritz
"Johnny's death has rocked the travelling community"

Boy murdered 'for being a Gypsy'
17 Nov 03  |  Merseyside
Teenagers in court over murder
30 May 03  |  Merseyside
Teenage boys on murder charge
30 May 03  |  Merseyside

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