Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In Britain, three jailed for life for torture, beating death of disabled woman

From The Telegraph in the UK:

Chantelle Booth, 22, her boyfriend Daniel Newstead, 20, and Joe Boyer, 18, were handed sentences at the Old Bailey of a minimum of 21, 20 and 18 years, respectively, for brutally beating to death Gemma Hayter, 27, (pictured) who had lifelong learning difficulties and a physical disability.

The court heard how Miss Hayter was forced to drink urine, hit with a mop and beaten in a flat for hours before being escorted to an old railway line where she was stripped naked and had a plastic bag put over her head.

Her body was found by a jogger alongside an embankment in Rugby, Warks, on August 9 last year.

Co-defendants Jessica Lynas, 19 and Duncan Edwards, 19, were yesterday sentenced to a minimum of 13 and 20 years after they were found guilty of manslaughter during a seven-week trial.

Lady Justice Rafferty, sentencing the five, all from Rugby, described the case as a "chronicle of heartlessness".

She said the disabled woman had suffered a beating so violent that a pathologist remarked on the severity of the breaking of her nose.

"She was hit with a mop or a broom. She was locked into a lavatory. She called out again and again for her mobile telephone, which was put down another lavatory to protect you by ensuring she could not get help," she said.

"I struggle to see how much lower you could have sunk," she said.

She added that once the beating had ended the group thought about how to protect themselves.

"She had to be taken out of the flat, cleaned up so that attention would not be drawn to her en route. She tagged along, battered, in pain, and unsuspecting, like a faithful loving dog, as you walked her to her death."

Once in seclusion, the beating started again, and Miss Hayter was cut with a knife, kicked and had a plastic bag put over her head.

"When she screamed, struggled and shed it, you replaced it. She choked to death on her own blood because of what, there and in the flat, you had done to her," she said.

"One final indignity was to come - you stripped her naked and left her body where you had dragged it. Gemma Hayter died alone."

She singled out defendant Chantelle Booth. who had described Miss Hayter as her best friend, as a "nasty piece of work".

"Over the years you treated Gemma Hayter like a toy to be picked up and put down, dependent, I suspect, on whether there were a gap in your miserable life which she could fill," she said.

At the time of the verdict, Miss Hayter's family released a statement, saying: ““Gemma was a very loving person. She craved friendship and acceptance from her peers.

“A specialist once called her an enigma – well she certainly was that – but she was very loved and will be very sadly missed by a lot of people, as well as her family.

“Gemma was very loyal to her friends, and never saw the bad side of anyone or anything. She was very trusting.

“I am not saying that my daughter was anywhere near perfect, but she did not deserve to lose her life the way she did – no one does.”