Trio jailed for Halloween murder
Three men who killed an IT expert in a "primeval" attack after snatching his girlfriend's Halloween hat have been jailed for life at the Old Bailey.
Ben Gardner, 30, was punched to the ground where he lay helpless as one of the men kicked his head "as if taking a penalty".
Daniel Ransom, 21, Ross Collender, 21, and Jordan Dixon, 18, all of Carshalton, Surrey, were found guilty of murder on Tuesday. Ransom and Collender were given minimum terms of 16 years and Dixon one of 14 years when they were sentenced on Friday.
Judge Richard Hone said: "The three of you jointly attacked and cowardly murdered a decent, gold standard young man of exceptional character, charm, gentleness and ability, who gave absolutely no provocation. His attributes shine and sparkle in contrast to your base metal."
Mr Gardner's girlfriend, hospital worker Allanna Devine, 28, must have suffered "traumatic effects" from seeing the attack on him, he added. She was also punched during the incident on October 31 last year.
The "look of pleasure" on the faces of Collender and Ransom after the killing was "really rather a disgusting picture", the judge said, adding: "The first of the blows, the kick to which you all subscribed, the unusual fracture deep in Ben Gardner's skull and the joint enterprise, were truly primeval moments."
The judge told the killers: "Remorse? I find not a trace of it in any of your cases. You seem unable to appreciate the enormity of what you did."
The court heard that Collender had 10 previous convictions including offences of dishonesty, violence and possession of ammunition, and he had regularly breached community orders. Dixon had 13 including violence and knife possession and had also breached community orders.
Mr Gardner's father, David, said in a statement: "Ben died as a result of the actions of a group of thugs, who decided to attack him for defending his girlfriend after they had physically assaulted her and stolen her Halloween hat.
"I cannot forgive these people for what they have done. They have destroyed me and my family for the rest of our lives. I think the people that have done this should pay the ultimate price - death."