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‘Happy slap’ killers of elderly man will be free in 18 months

Two members of a ‘happy slapping' gang who killed a Muslim pensioner outside a mosque for fun will be free in less than 18 months.

Leon Elcock (16) and Hamza Lyzai (15) attacked 67-year-old Ekram Haque — who was born in Calcutta but later moved to Belfast — in front of his three-year-old granddaughter Marian.

Mr Haque had moved to Northern Ireland in 1972 in search of work. He met his wife here and the couple moved to London in the early 1980s.

Elcock was on bail for a previous assault at the time of the killing.

Mr Haque, a retired care worker, collapsed after being hit twice over the head as he walked home in Church Lane, Tooting, south London in August 2009.

He suffered severe brain injury when his head hit the pavement and died a week later in hospital.

The two killers, then aged 14 and 15, can now be named for the first time after a court order was lifted. They had attacked two other men only 20 seconds earlier in the same road with another 14-year-old friend.

Elcock and the friend, who cannot be named, had also taken part in a ‘happy slapping’ attack on a married elderly couple five days previously, kicking and stamping on them in their own home.

Elcock and Lyzai both admitted manslaughter at the Old Bailey.

Elcock admitted four counts of causing actual bodily harm and was locked up for just four-and-a-half years.

He has served almost a year in custody already and will be released once he has served two years and three months, which is half of the term he received.

Lyzai, who also admitted to two counts of ABH and received a total of three-and-a-half years custody. He too has served almost a year in custody and will be freed within months.

Their friend, now 15, admitted four counts of actual bodily harm and was given a six-month detention and training order. He has spent 324 days in custody and will be released immediately. A series of ‘happy slapping' clips were found stored on his mobile phone when he was arrested.

The gang regularly filmed violent attacks on strangers under the name ‘Lane Gang Productions'.

Jailing the boys, Judge Martin Stephens QC said: “You three defendants committed a series of very serious, cowardly, deeply unpleasant offences against elderly and vulnerable men and women.

“The attacks were entirely gratuitous and done without thought for your victims.

“Some of the attacks carried out on earlier occasions, although not of the same seriousness, were filmed by you as part of what you saw as fun.”

The court heard the mobile phone ‘happy slapping' clips were dated August 12, 13 and 19, only two weeks before the fatal attack on Mr Haque outside the mosque.

A short clip shot by the unnamed, who turned the camera round to identify himself, showed Elcock hitting a bus driver, who was talking on his mobile phone during a rest period.

Belfast Telegraph