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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 November 2007, 17:25 GMT
Jail term cut for 'feral' killers
Craig Dodd (left) and Ryan Palin
The pair also terrorised other vulnerable adults in the town
Two Cheshire teenagers who terrorised a vulnerable man before beating him to death and throwing his body in a river, have had their life sentences cut.

Craig Dodd, aged 17, will now serve a minimum of three-and-a-half years in prison and Ryan Palin, 15, three years.

The pair were dubbed as "feral" when they were jailed for life for the manslaughter of Raymond Atherton, 40, in Warrington.

They beat and urinated on Mr Atherton before dumping him in the River Mersey.

These are two very dangerous young men whose future progress will have to be very carefully considered
Judge Justice Rix sitting at the Court of Appeal

Despite the severity of their crime, Lord Justice Rix overturned the life terms and replaced them with sentences of detention for public protection, giving each a minimum tariff to serve before parole can be considered.

Lord Justice Rix decided the sentencing judge at Warrington Crown Court had not been right to impose life sentences for the killing.

He said: "We think it was an error of principle to say that a discretionary sentence of detention for life should be imposed."

"These are two very dangerous young men whose future progress will have to be very carefully considered."

David Atherton with injuries
David Atherton was regularly attacked by the pair

The court heard Palin, of Grasmere Avenue, Orford, and Dodd, of Lisguard Close, Runcorn spent months systematically abusing the victim, who had severe learning difficulties, in a process they nicknamed 'terroring'.

They regularly broke into his council flat on St Katherine's Way, Howley, where they wrote graffiti on the walls, burnt his hair and daubed his face with paint.

On the night of his death in May 2006, the boys were seen by neighbours beating him with planks of wood until he bled.

Days later his body was discovered floating in the River Mersey in Westy, Warrington.

The judge in the original trial described the killers as "feral, wild and untamed".

After Mr Atherton's killing it was revealed that he had been rehoused in a different part of the town by Warrington Borough Council when Palin and Dodd started their "terror campaign" against him.

They were arrested by police after boasting of what they had done to friends.

Judge Rix added: "Mr Atherton's life had been made a misery by the loutish behaviour of those who attacked him.

"They had not sought to kill, but this was a savage, cruel, brutal and vicious attack."

'Feral' boys jailed for killing
03 Apr 07 |  Merseyside

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