Schoolboy jailed for murdering man with cricket bat

A schoolboy will spend at least a decade behind bars for murdering a man with a cricket bat as he looked for his stepchildren's stolen bicycles.

Sixteen-year-old Jimmy Owens – able to be named after a judge lifted a court order banning the media from identifying him – killed Derek Whyteside, 42, with a single blow to the head on 18 June.

He crept up behind his victim on what was the youngster's final day at secondary school.

After being struck by the cricket bat, Mr Whyteside – who was armed with a knuckleduster – was hit on the head by the teenager's father, William Owens, as he lay dying from a fractured skull.

Passing sentence at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court on Thursday, Judge Paul Glenn jailed the teenager for life with a minimum term of 10 years, while his father, 41, was given 20 months for affray.

The judge, who condemned those who took "despicable" mobile phone pictures of the victim before he received any help, said: "Derek Whyteside had decided to go and look for those who he plainly considered to be involved (in the theft).

"He was plainly ready for trouble."

He told the younger Owens, of Malinslee, Telford, that he accepted he had not intended to kill Mr Whyteside, but the jury was told during the trial that he would be guilty of murder if he had intended to cause really serious harm to Mr Whyteside.

"You emerged from the bushes and struck him from behind with the bat," the judge said.

"You aimed at his head. You used significant force. He had no chance to take evasive action – it was a vicious blow delivered in anger."

As for the father, of Boulton Grange, Telford, the judge said: "Your part was, frankly, outrageous.

"Your involvement and the effect on the community is so serious only custody is appropriate."

But he praised the efforts of the boy's mother to help Australian-born Mr Whyteside, who died in hospital 36 hours later.

The judge said that while he too had behaved badly on the day in question, he had paid a "terrible and totally unjustified price" for doing so.

In a victim impact statement read to the court on behalf of Mr Whyteside's partner, Michelle Beddall, she said: "I am having to go through living hell because they acted like animals and can't face up to what they have done.

"I hate what they have done to me and my kids."

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Prior to the sentencing, defence counsel Patrick Harrington QC told the court that the younger Owens had previously been chased by Mr Whyteside – and that the provocation had played a role in the incident.

The boy was not responsible for stealing the missing bikes and another youth was later cautioned for theft, but the judge told him he had not "done the decent thing" in helping to recover them.

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