Punched to death as girl of 15 filmed the attack on her iPhone
Punched to death as girl of 15 filmed the attack on her iPhone: Judge condemns mother for allowing teens to get drunk
A girl of 15 used her iPhone to film her friend beating a man to death in a drunken attack.
Ryan Sheppard, 17, punched Mark Roberts to the ground in a horrific display of unprovoked violence while high on drink and cocaine.
As Mr Roberts – who was due to be married this year – lay helpless, Sheppard hit and kicked him and repeatedly lifted his victim’s head and smashed it down.
The girl who was filming was also drunk, as was another girl, also 15, who was with them.
Yesterday, as Sheppard was jailed after admitting murder, a judge made a scathing attack on parents who allow teenagers to drink underage.
Judge Neil Ford, QC, said Sheppard and the girls had earlier drunk ‘a large quantity of quite strong alcohol’ at one of the girls’ houses.
Despite the girl’s mother being present, the group had been allowed to get drunk on Malibu, Peach Schnapps and Cactus Jack.
Sentencing Sheppard to a minimum of 12 years and three months, Judge Ford said: ‘This is yet another case where those with parental responsibility fail to appreciate or care about the dis-inhibiting effects of alcohol, effects which in this case have been truly devastating.
‘I appreciate that it is not easy for parents to control the behaviour of teenagers. But this case yet again demonstrates the tragic consequences which can result from heavy consumption of alcohol by young people.’
He told Sheppard, now 18: ‘I have no doubt that your use of alcohol and or drugs contributed deeply to your behaviour on that night.’
Bristol Crown Court heard that Mr Roberts, a 35-year-old engineer, was attacked last October as he walked home alone through a park after a night out in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.
Sheppard approached Mr Roberts and asked him for a cigarette and to take him to a pub. He refused, telling the group to ‘go home’.
The teenager then savagely attacked Mr Roberts, repeatedly punching him – while one of the girls used her iPhone to record 90 seconds of footage.
Mr Roberts suffered a cardiac arrest and was left unconscious in a pool of blood, but the gang simply walked away.
It was left to local residents to call for an ambulance, and Mr Roberts was taken to Weston General Hospital.
At the same time that doctors were trying to save him, the court heard that Sheppard was showing the video of his fatal attack to friends.
Adam Vaitilingam, QC, prosecuting, said: ‘There was an element of triumph of what he had done.
This was a souvenir that could be shown to others about what Ryan Sheppard had done to Mr Roberts.’
Mr Roberts was declared dead 36 hours after the attack.
Yesterday members of his family wept in the public gallery as Sheppard was jailed for what the judge called the ‘cowardly, unprovoked, sustained and brutal’ assault.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Roberts’ parents Lesley and Andrew said: ‘We have been left broken-hearted knowing the last Mark saw on this Earth was his attacker, the face and voice of evil. One of us should have been that person.’
The statement, which was read to the court by Mr Roberts’ aunt Theresa Sheldon, continued: ‘Until the day we die, Mark will be 35. We will never see him age or get married. Mark died when he was at his happiest. His life and future have been taken away from him.’
At the end of the statement, Mrs Sheldon turned to Sheppard in the dock and told him: ‘You showed Mark no mercy, you should be shown none.’
In her own victim impact statement Mr Roberts’ fiancee, mother-of-two Zara Powell, said his murder had left her suicidal.
She added: ‘He will always be my one and only. As well as my children, Mark was my whole life. In the short time we had together we achieved a lot. He made me so happy.’
Sheppard was on licence at the time of the offence, having robbed three boys of their mobile phones in March 2013. He has previous convictions for possessing an offensive weapon and handling stolen goods.
The girl who was filming was acquitted of murder and manslaughter following a trial at Bristol Crown Court in June.
By TANIA STEERE and STEPHEN JOHNS
PUBLISHED: 20:52 GMT, 4 August 2014 | UPDATED: 00:57 GMT, 5 August 2014