‘It’s No Big Deal’: A Sneer from Mother of Thug Who Punched Asperger’s Sufferer, as Attorney General Is Deluged with Calls to Increase Sentence
Rebecca Evans and Jack Doyle, Daily Mail (London), February 27, 2014
The mother of a thug who killed an autistic man dismissed his crime as ‘no big deal’ last night.
In a display of callous indifference, Sherron O’Hagan said she did not know ‘what all the fuss was about’.
Her son Lewis Gill killed Andrew Young with a single punch in an unprovoked attack captured on CCTV [Editor’s Note: Video and more on the attack here].
He was given just four years but a public outcry may lead to a longer sentence.
The Attorney General says he will examine whether the jail term was too short.
Dominic Grieve’s office was deluged with more than 110 complaints within hours of the case becoming public.
Mr Young’s mother Pamela has dismissed the sentence as an ‘absolute joke’–Gill could even be free within two years.
But Mrs O’Hagan, speaking from her home in Sutton, South London, yesterday insisted her son was a ‘good kid’.
The 41-year-old mother of three told the Mail: ‘It was just an accident. It’s not a big deal. This will all be forgotten tomorrow. He’s my son, what do you want me to say? He didn’t mean to kill him and that’s that.’
Mrs O’Hagan, who was not married to Gill’s father Richard McKenzie, added: ‘This story will be the lining of chips tomorrow. I just don’t understand what all the fuss is about.’
Gill, a convicted robber, punched 40-year-old Mr Young to the ground on a busy Bournemouth street on November 6 last year.
Shocking CCTV footage shows him calmly walking forward to deliver the deadly punch after Mr Young reprimanded his friend for cycling on the pavement.
Mr Young, who had Asperger’s and the mental age of a 14-year-old, fell back and cracked his head on the pavement.
He died the next day with his 71-year-old mother at his bedside.
Gill, 20, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to four-and-a-half years by Judge Keith Cutler at Salisbury Crown Court.
With half his sentence served on licence, and allowing for time already served, he could be out in just two years.
The sentence was condemned by Victims’ Commissioner Baroness Newlove, whose husband Garry was killed by a gang vandalising his car.
‘I’m appalled by this disgraceful act of violence–my thoughts go out to the victim’s family and friends at this time,’ she said.
‘It’s entirely right that the sentence will be reviewed for this shocking crime.
‘I know how traumatic it is to go through the courts as a victim–when you are already so hurt and vulnerable. That’s why I urge everyone involved in this case to put victims first in the pursuit of justice.’
The Young family’s MP, Tobias Ellwood, welcomed Mr Grieve’s review as well. ‘It would be wrong for me to make a judgment about how long the sentence ought to be, it is not the role of an MP to do that,’ he said.
‘But the message needs to go out that this kind of behaviour should not be tolerated. I would be the first to advocate people standing up and speaking out when they see wrongdoing in their community and that is one of the reasons that a sentence like this is totally out of line.’
Mr Grieve has until March 21 to decide whether he thinks the sentence was too soft.
If–as seems likely–he does, the case will go to the Court of Appeal where three senior judges could lengthen it.
The Daily Mail website was also deluged with criticism of the sentencing judge, Keith Cutler, who decided Gill did not intend to cause ‘grievous harm’.
One wrote that it was a ‘sad day for justice’ and another demanded that ‘criminal friendly judges’ should be held accountable to the public and another
One reader commented: ‘The man is clearly dangerous and violent. Even if he didn’t intend to cause death he punched someone who was clearly no threat to him and who made no threatening gestures of violence back.
‘Isn’t it about time the people were heard? These lenient sentences are harmful to the decent members of society.’
A statement issued on behalf of the Young family said: ‘When we first heard that Gill was given a four year sentence we thought it was too short and expected him to get more than that. It’s ridiculous. He (Gill) didn’t mean to kill him so a life sentence would have been extreme but he deserves more than what he was given.
‘Looking at his criminal record he is obviously a trouble maker and we were hoping he would get about seven or eight years.
‘A sentence so short might mean that he could do something else dangerous in the future.’
But Judge stays silent over short sentence
The judge who sent Lewis Gill to prison for just four years did not respond to criticism of what has been called an ‘extremely lenient’ sentence.
Keith Cutler, 63, refused to discuss the case yesterday at Winchester Crown Court where he spent the day hearing a trial into an alleged conspiracy to commit blackmail.
The Mail was told by a court usher: ‘He has refused to talk about the case.’
The judge has however previously spoken about his approach to sentencing.
He has said in an interview: ‘Every offence has its different features, every mitigation has its own strengths and all those elements are brought into sentencing.’
He added: ‘Some cases get to you. When I come out of court, I say “That’s it. I’ve made my decision. If I am wrong the Court of Appeal will deal with it”.’
The father of two, who is a lay canon at Salisbury Cathedral, has also defended his sometimes controversial approach to the legal process.
This was most notable in his handling of the inquest into the shooting of Mark Duggan, where he held a 20-second silence to commemorate the gangster’s death.
The judge admits that he enjoys having the power to show leniency but he reacted angrily to ministerial criticism of ‘soft’ sentencing back in 2006 when he was secretary of the Council of Circuit Judges.
In October 2004, he handed teenager Louis Moroncini an 18-month supervision order for striking Beverley Brennan round the head with a 4ft wooden pole during a robbery.
Judge Cutler told the defendant: ‘You know, and I know, that you richly deserve custody and you would have got three years. But you must know that if you fail me and go wrong on this order, you will be back before the courts.’
After the hearing, nursery nurse Mrs Brennan said: ‘When the judge was passing the sentence, I had to leave the courtroom because I started having a panic attack.
‘I know he’s got a curfew, but I’ll still have that worry that he could go out.’
In September 2004, Abdel Atif Gholam, 29, an Afghan refugee who had no licence or insurance when he veered on to the wrong side of the road and killed a motorcyclist, was jailed by Judge Cutler for just two years.
The judge lives in a sprawling six-bedroom detached house in the heart of the English countryside.
Situated off a quiet lane, the £1million property offers picturesque views and has a well-tended garden packed with tall trees and ancient woodland.