Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 14:10 UK

Punch death sentence 'too short'

Jonathan Harper
Mr Harper died of multiple injuries in the incident

The sister of a man who died after being punched by a 15-year-old boy in South Yorkshire has attacked the two-year sentence given to the teenager.

Jonathan Harper, 47, had just left a pub in North Anston, near Rotherham, on 15 May when he was attacked and fell into the road where a car hit him.

The boy, who admitted manslaughter, was ordered to be detained for two years.

Mr Harper's sister Susan Cantillon said: "I don't think it gives a strong enough message to the youths of today."

Speaking outside Sheffield Crown Court, she said she did not blame the judge, saying sentencing policy was the government's responsibility.

'Gentle giant'

She described her brother, an amateur artist who lived with his elderly mother, as a "gentle giant".

Asked how she felt about the defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, she said: "I don't feel any anger, I don't feel anything for him."

The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Alan Goldsack QC, was told how Mr Harper, who lived in nearby Dinnington, was a regular at the Little Mester pub in North Anston.

After he left the pub on the evening of 15 May he gave a cigarette to one youth in the defendant's group but appeared to refuse to give another one to a second teenager.

Mr Harper was doing nothing more than walking home when you killed him
Judge Alan Goldsack QC, Recorder of Sheffield

This second youth and the defendant followed Mr Harper before the 15-year-old punched him, causing Mr Harper to fall backwards into the road, the court heard.

The judge was told the driver of the Rover car which hit him was blameless and did everything he could to avoid the collision.

Judge Goldsack told the defendant: "On the one hand a man has lost his life by the use of quite gratuitous violence.

"In this case it occurred in a public street and you were one of a group of youngsters drinking aimlessly and, on this occasion, causing trouble.

"That is a matter of general public concern.

"Mr Harper was doing nothing more than walking home when you killed him.

"On the other hand, the degree of violence you used was very limited.

"You did not intend to cause serious injury or death."

The judge heard the boy had previous convictions for criminal damage and obstructing the highway with his bike.

But the judge also heard how the youngster had shown genuine remorse over the death of Mr Harper, had been deeply traumatised by what had happened to the extent of "wishing himself dead" and was described as a model child by his new foster parents.



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