Paul Thompson, Telegraph (London), March 29, 2012
The parents of two British students murdered in Florida have criticised President Barack Obama for his lack of compassion over their son’s deaths.
His failure to respond to three letters sent to the White House was because there was no “political value” and not worthy of a few minutes of his time.
They spoke out as teenager Shawn Tyson began a life sentence after being found guilty of the murder of James Cooper and James Kouzaris last April.
The 17 year old, who shot the men as they begged for their lives, will die in prison.
His conviction of first degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence without the chance of parole.
The powerfully built teen even looked bored as emotional DVD presentations about the dead men prepared by their grieving parents were shown in court.
Tyson, who has the word ‘Savage’ tattooed across his chest didn’t show a flicker of emotion, slumping in his seat as he was forced to watch a montage of photos showing the victims from early childhood to young men.
Two close friends of the dead men who had attended the eight day trial in Sarasota, Florida. had also delivered highly emotional impact statements to the court prior to the sentencing.
Paul Davies and Joe Hallett spoke of the “living hell” they and others who knew the men had suffered since the murders.
During the eight day trial they had been shown graphic crime scene and autopsy photos shown in court.
Later speaking after Tyson was jailed Davies and Hallett lashed out at Mr Obama saying the deaths of their friends was “not worthy of ten minutes of his time.”
Davies said:”We would like to publicly express our dissatisfaction at the lack of any public or private message of support or condolence from any American governing body or indeed, President Obama himself.
“Mr Kouzaris has written to President Obama on three separate occasions and is yet to even receive the courtesy of a reply.
“It would perhaps appear that Mr Obama sees no political value in facilitating such a request or that the lives of two British tourists are not worthy of ten minutes of his time.”
The rebuke follows Mr Obama’s personal intervention into the shooting in Florida of a young black teenager by a white-Hispanic neighbourhood watch captain.
The death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin has sparked nationwide protests with his supporters claiming he was victim of a racist attack.
Mr Obama entered the controversy last week by saying if he had a son he would have looked like Martin.
The alleged assailant in Martin’s death has not been charged with any crime having claimed he was attacked first and used Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law to shoot in self defence.
The criticism of the US President was made on behalf of the Cooper’s parents Stanley and Sandy, from Warwicks, and Peter and Hazel Kouzaris, from Northampton by Davies in a statement read outside the courtroom.
The parents of the two victims did not attend the trial but they had access to the proceedings from a live video feed.
The filmed interview of the Kouzaris’s was played to the court while a message from Sandy Cooper was read out by the prosecutor.
The victims close friends delivered an emotional impact statement with Hallett telling Tyson he hoped he would be haunted by his actions.
He told him: “Imagine them being killed. Now try to imagine that they died because someone creept up on them and shot them numerous times for no good reason. Welcome to our world. Every night you go to sleep, every morning you wake up, I want you to think of my friends who you murdered. Their images will be imprinted on your conscience up until your very last breath in life.”