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Youths handed five years in detention after killing man for three bottles of beer

Mr Donovan suffered a dislocated shoulder, a fractured pelvis and significant bruising to the upper body.

Three youths have been detained for five years each after killing a mugging victim for three bottles of beer.

Retired council worker John Donovan was attacked by two 14-year-olds and a 15-year-old on September 2 last year with a “heavy blow” to the shoulder, but died 13 days later.

One of the boys raised his stolen bottle in a “mock toast” to his victim as they left the scene in King Street, Leicester, in what the judge described as “evident pride”.

The teenagers – now aged 14, 15 and 16 – originally pleaded not guilty to Mr Donovan’s murder, but accepted the lesser charge of manslaughter at the first day of their trial on March 7.

The 64-year-old suffered a dislocated shoulder, a fractured pelvis and significant bruising to the upper body before a cardiac arrest on September 14.

At Nottingham Crown Court on Wednesday, Mr Justice Soole told the teenagers: “I start by making it clear that I treat the three of you as equally culpable for what happened in King Street and for its fatal consequence.

“Together, you looked back to the scene of the attack with evident pride.

“The CCTV shows you (the 14-year-old) raising your bottle in a mock toast towards your victim. You then left the scene.

“A good, gentle and innocent man was brought to his death by your joint attack and robbery of him for three bottles of beer.”

Mr Justice Soole added the three boys were “dangerous as you have so evidently proved in this shocking incident”.

Opening the case against the three youths, David Herbert QC said: “The motive for this group attack was robbery. As it turned out, John Donovan died so the defendants could steal just three bottles of beer from him.

“He was an easy target for the three defendants. After the attack, when in hospital, he told his brother that he would have given the beer to his attackers if they had just asked him for it.

“It is the prosecution case that they were looking for trouble.”

Speaking of the attack itself, Mr Herbert said: “Mr Donovan was knocked violently to the ground and surrounded.

“Mr Donovan was then kicked while he lay helpless on the ground – he later told others he was kicked twice.”

Mr Herbert added: “There was no remorse for what they had done, rather, they were proud of themselves.”

In a victim impact statement read by Mr Herbert on behalf of Mr Donovan’s mother, Katherine, she said: “Even though John was 64 years old, he was still my little boy and it is the worst possible thing to happen to any mother or father.

“On the night John died I went to the hospital… held his hand and waited until all the beeps on the machine had gone quiet.

“John will be greatly missed by me and the rest of the family. It is a cruel world that we live in and this incident has destroyed our lives.”

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