Luke Salkeld and Tom Kelly, Daily Mail (London), February 25, 2014
With a single, vicious and unprovoked punch, a life is tragically ended.
Andrew Young, 40, paid an appalling price for his good citizen act of challenging a cyclist who was riding on the pavement.
The cyclist’s friend, a convicted robber, delivered the killer blow–yet could spend just two years behind bars. Mr Young’s mother yesterday described the sentence as an ‘absolute joke’.
The shocking incident took place on a busy street in Bournemouth when Mr Young warned Victor Ibitoye that riding on the pavement was dangerous.
When the conversation ended Lewis Gill, who was with Mr Ibitoye, punched Mr Young, taking him by surprise.
Distressing CCTV footage shows the Asperger’s sufferer toppling back on to the road, violently striking his head.
Gill, who has a conviction for handling stolen goods as well as robbery, then walks away, with a glance back at his motionless victim.
Passers-by came to Mr Young’s aid but he died the following day in hospital. His mother Pamela was at his bedside.
Yesterday Gill, 20, pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter for which he was jailed for just four years.
He was sentenced by Judge Keith Cutler, who was criticised for his handling of the inquest into the gangster Mark Duggan, whose shooting by police sparked the riots of 2011.
Mrs Young said: ‘You can see Andrew didn’t cause Lewis Gill any harm.
‘I wish that awful man who took my son away had pleaded not guilty so he would have got a longer sentence. The sentence is an absolute joke.
‘I’m a committed Christian but I think that if someone takes a life they should be prepared to forfeit their own.’
She said that too few killers served full sentences.
Tory MP David Davies said of Gill’s punishment: ‘That’s an outrageously lean sentence. In two years he will be out walking the streets after taking somebody’s life.
‘He has attacked someone unprovoked and should be properly punished. People need to realise if you punch someone like that, and they fall backward, they can die.’
Explaining why Gill would receive just four years, Judge Cutler told him: ‘What I have had to look at is what was in your mind at the time you threw that punch.
‘You wanted to cause some injury to Mr Young. If you wanted to cause grievous bodily harm it would have been a murder charge. You are very, very lucky that was not in fact the outcome.’
The judge told the hearing at Salisbury Crown Court on Friday that the case lay somewhere between murder and manslaughter.
‘I bear in mind your early guilty plea. I accept there is no pre-meditated element and provocation does exist,’ he told Gill.
The maximum sentence for manslaughter is life, but the term can be shorter, at the discretion of the judge. With half his sentence served on licence, and allowing for time already served, Gill could be out of jail in under two years.
The judge told Gill, from Sutton, Surrey, that Mr Young was no threat: ‘You are a powerfully built young man. You must have known that [the punch] was going to cause a significant injury and, very sadly, it did.’
Gill was also sentenced to two three-month terms to run consecutively with the manslaughter sentence.
This was for committing the crime while on a suspended sentence for the robbery and handling offences. In mitigation, Steven Perian said: ‘He wishes he could turn back the clock and not react in the way he did.’
Mr Young, a former grammar school pupil, regular church-goer and speaker of several languages, was said to have the social skills of a 14-year-old due to his Asperger’s.
Taxi driver Simon Scott said of him: ‘Andrew was always friendly and polite and often struck up conversations with strangers. He was gentle and wouldn’t hurt a fly.’
His mother added: ‘He was very particular because of his Asperger’s and he wouldn’t have liked seeing someone riding a bicycle on the pavement.’
The incident took place outside a Tesco Express in the Charminster area of Bournemouth at 4.25pm on November 6.