The family of an accountant who died at the hands of a young thug today criticised the two-and-a-half year sentence imposed by a judge as wholly inadequate.As well they might. It was.
Paul Midgley, 23, was celebrating a friend's birthday when Lee Swales, 17, attacked him in a car park in Bridlington, east Yorkshire.And once again, the contrast – a quiet, unassuming young man with a good job, minding his own business, separated from his life by a feral, feckless, worthless yob with previous convictions.
Swales, a convicted burglar who had been drinking, struck his victim a single punch which knocked him to the ground, causing him to suffer a fractured skull.
He then kicked him and stamped on his head while he lay on the ground. A short time later he told a group of friends: "I've just beaten someone up in a car park."
Sorry, did I say ‘convictions’? He only had a conviction for the burglary - a previous assault was dealt with by way of a ‘police reprimand’.
Yeah, that really taught him a lesson, didn’t it…
Mr Midgley's cousin, Gemma Magson, said: "Paul was a gentle, peaceful man who had never had a fight in his life. Now it feels as though his life was worth nothing."It feels as though his life is worth nothing because, in the modern UK, it is.
She went on: "We only found out last week that the Crown was thinking of reducing the charge from murder to manslaughter. He has now got two-and-a-half years. I could get more than that for a motoring offence."
Judge Mettyear acknowledged that many would regard the sentence as inadequate, but he said the law allowed him to consider only the defendant's intent.You don’t think the kicking and punching of an unconscious man while he lays on the ground ‘demonstrates intent’, Judge…?
Swales, of Queensgate, Bridlington, already had a police reprimand for assault and a conviction for burglary. He denied murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter.And the reason he killed Mr Midgley? His current paramour, 17 year old Natalie Lee, decided (for reasons best known only to herself ) to falsely accuse this complete stranger as being someone who had touched her breasts earlier in the evening. It was a lie. And it cost an innocent man his life.
You know, try as I might, I can’t see anywhere that she shared the dock with him. As she undoubtedly should have done…