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Written by: Jean Louis Segoe
Ten teenagers who murdered an 18-year-old man in a gang attack have been sentenced.
Jack Woodley, 18, died from a single stab wound during an 80-second attack in which he was punched, kicked and stamped upon by 10 youths.
All 10, now aged between 15 and 18, were convicted of murder and sentenced to life with minimum terms of between eight and 17 years.
Nine of them have launched appeals against their convictions.
A murder trial heard Mr Woodley, from Sunderland, had attended the final night of the Houghton Feast funfair in Houghton-le-Spring on 16 October.
Whilst there, he came to the attention of a group of youths who prosecutors said were intent on attacking someone.
- Why was Jack Woodley killed?
- The case against each defendant
He refused when they challenged him to a fight but they followed him out of the fair accompanied by about 30 to 40 youths.
As Mr Woodley neared the Britannia Inn, a 16-year-old boy ran up and punched him from behind triggering a melee during which a 15-year-old boy fatally stabbed Mr Woodley in the back.
One of the 10 defendants admitted stabbing Jack Woodley with a 9in (25cm) knife.
The judge Rodney Jameson QC said each youth, none of whom can be identified, was responsible for Mr Woodley's death but their involvement varied.
He said any of the youths had the opportunity to withdraw from the attack but the "mob mentality took over and it cost Jack his life", although he said not all of them "intended to kill".
The judge said Mr Woodley was "standing on the threshold of his adult life" having got keys to his new home that day and was due to start a a new job the following Monday.
"He had much to look forward to and must have had high hopes for the future," he said, adding: "None of those hopes will now be fulfilled."
He said the feast was seen as an "opportunity" by some young people to fight over "trivial rivalries" between neighbouring communities and Mr Woodley was marked by the attackers as being a "townie".
Jack Woodley died in hospital a day after being attacked near the Britannia Inn in Houghton-le-Spring
He said Mr Woodley had "done nothing at all wrong at any time" before the attack while some of the youths at least had gone "intending to become involved in violence".
The minimum terms each youth must serve before they can be considered for parole were:
- The 15-year-old with the blade who had moved to the North East to escape a city's gang and knife culture to serve at least 17 years
- The 16-year-old boy who launched the attack must serve at least 13 years six months
- A 17-year-old who was part of the group who went with the boy to get his knife shortly before the attack to serve at least 15 years
- An 18-year-old, who was 17 at the time and also part of the group who got the knife but deemed by the judge not to be "particularly bright or an obvious leader", to serve at least 15 years
- The youngest defendant who was 14 at the time and now 15, to serve eight years as the judge said his youth and low IQ meant he was "not as much to blame as most of the others in the dock"
- A 15-year-old who was 14 at the time who exchanged friendly "fist bumps" with the victim before the attack and shouted "get the chopper out" to serve at least 13 years
- A 15-year-old who was 14 at the time to serve at least 10 years as the judge said he was a "fighter" with a history of violent behaviour but a low IQ meaning he was "easily led"
- A 16-year-old who was 15 at the time to serve at least 11 years after the judge said he was seen for a couple of seconds on mobile phone footage moving towards the brawl with his head concealed by a hood or balaclava, although the youth was not named by any witnesses and did not give any account to police or the court
- A 16-year-old who was 15 at the time who told the court he grappled Mr Woodley but he had not realised it was the victim and he was trying to stop the attack must serve at least 11 years
- An 18-year-old who was 17 at the time who the judge said it was a "crying shame" had got "caught up" in the trouble having overcome a low IQ and ADHD to get a job where he was well-regarded must serve at least 11 years
The judge said while it may seem "unfair" the youths could be released from prison at a relatively young age, the loss of Mr Woodley had to be balanced against each defendant's age, individual circumstances, actual involvement in the killing and chances of rehabilitation.
He said no sentence could compensate Mr Woodley's family for their "permanent and irreversible" loss and it was "not a measure of the worth" of his life which was "beyond calculation".
Even once they are deemed suitable for release by a parole board, each boy would remain on licence for the rest of their life, the judge added.
Though each defendant's actions varied, the judge said there were common features in each of their case, including:
- It was a group attack and Mr Woodley had no chance of defending himself
- There was premeditation although some of that was "brief" for some of the youths
- They attacked "solely for the excitement and pleasure" of inflicting at least really serious injury on a randomly selected and entirely innocent stranger"
- Each boy knew there was a knife and by joining in encouraged its use
- The violence aside from the stabbing was "appalling" with multiple punches, kicks and stamps.
- It was committed in public "to the horror" of onlookers
- All attempts to stop the youths were ignored or met with other violence.
- None of them attempted to help or get help for Mr Woodley despite knowing he was injured
- Mr Woodley obviously knew what was going to happen to him when they raised their hoods and he suffered "terror" with one witness saying she had never seen anyone look so terrified
Ahead of the sentencing, the court heard the defendants had expressed "genuine remorse" but the judge said none of the six who gave evidence during the trial had "told the truth" about their involvement and claimed they did not see or could not remember what happened.
"You decided to put the interest of yourself and co-defendants before those of Jack and his family," the judge told them, adding: "You did everything you could to deny them justice."
He said he understood the youths may "regret what happened for many reasons" but "that is not remorse", which meant being "truly sorry not for what happened but for what you did to make it happen".
The sentencing was delayed slightly due to disturbances outside the court between those attending to watch from the public gallery.
Northumbria Police said three men were arrested on suspicion of breach of the peace and affray.
The judge said the attack and murder was a "joint enterprise" and the youths "all played a part", while prosecutors had said the presence and actions of each youth emboldened others to join in the attack and created the situation for the fatal stabbing.
Speaking after the sentencing, campaign group Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association, which opposes joint enterprise convictions, said it was "appalled" by the case.
The group is supporting the families of nine of the defendants who said their sons had been "given life sentences for a murder they did not commit".
The families said they were "mindful of the life that was lost" and "deeply saddened" by Mr Woodley's death but the convictions were "not justice", adding: "We will spend the rest of our lives fighting for our children and our children will spend the rest of their lives maintaining their innocence."
Mr Woodley's mother Zoe McGill said all the defendants were "part of it", adding: "If you involve yourself with someone carrying a knife and you are aware they have a knife then you are as much a murderers.
As part of activities marking Africa's women's day celebrated every 31st July, Dr Tumasang Swiri Foundation organised a conference on the theme "Realising the African woman's human capital growth through social and economic development"
During the conference discussions were geared towards understanding the meaning of human capital growth, the African woman: her potentials, her challenges, factors hindering her economic and social growth and finally some strategies in helping the African woman realise her economic and social development.
The aim was to contribute to the eternal problem of making women autonomous and economically viable in a society characterised by male chauvinism.
The panel was composed of:
1. Moderator and guest speaker : *Dr Mrs Solange Swiri-Tumasang* ( founder and CEO of Dr Tumasang Swiri Foundation)
what do we understand by women's human capital growth, social development and economic development?
The way forward...
- *Mrs Nkangot Valérie* ( teacher and business woman ):
Subtheme: Who is an African woman
- *Mrs Griselda Nfor* ( Member of WEDA)
Subtheme : the challenges of the African woman
- *Mrs Ekembe Mirabelle Mbacham* (Co-founder GWAH Cameroon)
factors hindering her towards attaining economic and social growth and some solutions
It was a wonderful conference. Very interactive and enriching. Much was said about women social and economic growth and some challenges to attain it. Recommendations were made towards realising socioeconomic growth. The women proposed some strategies that could help empower women such as organising training workshops, making access to education open to all, promote gêner equality, stop gender violence, provide basic social amenities, having an entrepreneurial mind and many others. A holistic approach to sustainable development is necessary for women Empowerment especially in a post pandemic world.
Almost 60 participants brought in constructive and innovative strategies and all the contributions were valuable to furthering the cause towards complete autonomisation of the woman.
Some members suggested we do not end on platforms but take the measures down to our communities.
"Gender discriminatory practices have placed the woman at the disadvantaged point for so long. I greatly appreciate Dr Tumasang's initiative in paving a good path for the African woman through this platform. However, advocacy shouldn't stay only in plate forms but each enlightened women should take the bull by the horn and go down on the field to actually help to rewrite a woman's story for her and empower her through awareness talks. Through this means, those in this plate form will become social correspondences and the voice of the voiceless. It will only be by meeting women and talking to them that their social and economic strength in the pursuit of sustainable development will be made visible. These women need to be psychologically and mentally strong in order to give back to their communities in a big way" said Dr Vivian(a participant)
" I think such a day should have been dedicated to those African female warriors who without education, fought wars etc and brought glory to Africa. Why not get back to our own local communities or villages and profile our great grandmothers, grandmothers and even mothers who did great things as African women as well even without having been to school" said another participant
The questions we need to ask ourselves as women are: how do you use your skills(human capital growth) for productivity? How does the skill you benefitted through formal or informal training help you in realising economic and social growth?
In conclusion, we can say that
Women are the guarantors of their destinies. Unleashing their full potential is essential to their self development.
use your skills to make our society productive do not acquire knowledge to be selfish with it. Share your skills with fellow women so they too can come out of the vicious cycle of poverty..
As women, we can join NGOs and share our knowledge, *no woman is empty* you must always have something to share with others.
If you are good at cake making, teach a suffering woman, if your skill is business management, organise a webinar and share your knowledge.
How do you use your skills for productivity?
*Be that woman who makes other women smile and not cry*
*be a woman who uplifts other women and not the one who tramples on others*
Dr Solange Swiri Tumasang
Founder and CEO Dr Tumasang Swiri FOUNDATION and Kids for Kids Cameroon
For partnership or to fund our activities
Gabriel Tomás Felsinger, más conocido como DJ Manuso, está inmerso en el mundo de la música desde pequeño, haciendo su primer lanzamiento el 3 de Abril de 2019, siendo todo un éxito para su corta edad, además nos adelanta que su disco para el 2022 viene lleno de sorpresas, que nos harán deslumbrar con todo su talento, nos cuenta en exclusiva que este mismo tendrá 12 temas inéditos de su autoría con colaboraciones importantes de artistas del país y anticipó su nueva producción: “TBT – Remix”.
Gabriel ha colaborado ya con muchas celebridades de la música con grandes djs'remixers como dj snows, matias rmx, también con un artista de nacionalidad Chilena llamado JHEASSEY, temas que han sido muy bien recibidos por el público.
Nos relata además que “los sueños siempre se cumplen” siendo esta súper frase su emblema día a día.
Do you toss and turn in bed every night? Do you watch the clock as your wake-up time mercilessly approaches and only manage to fall asleep at some point in the morning? Have you been counting sheep for hours and still can't sleep?
Everybody sometimes can't fall asleep. The problem is when this condition lasts a long time or recurs frequently.
Professionally, the condition where you cannot fall asleep is called insomnia. It is dangerous and it is not pleasant to play with it. Sleep is vital for a person. A person suffering from insomnia cannot fall asleep or wakes up frequently.
Common symptoms are:
- difficulty falling asleep at night.
- waking up early in the morning without the ability to go back to sleep.
- frequent nighttime awakenings
- night watch, confusion of day and night
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