TWO young West Somerset men who killed Minehead gardener Tim Chilcott in an unprovoked street attack were today each sentenced to three years in custody.
But Daniel Cain (pictured, right), who was 16 at the time of the killing and is now aged 17 of Porlock, and Sean Wylds (pictured, below), aged 20, of Alcombe, Minehead, are likely to be free again within 18 months.
The pair were drunk when they set upon 36-year-old Mr Chilcott as he walked home through Minehead town centre in the early hours of January 20 this year.
Mr Chilcott was punched to the ground in Blenheim Road and hit his head on the road, suffering a 10-inch fracture of his skull and internal bleeding.
He died 36 hours later in Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, without regaining consciousness.
Cain and Sean Wylds denied Mr Chilcott’s manslaughter but were found guilty by a jury after a trial in Exeter Crown Court in July.
Judge Graham Cottle - who previously pledged ‘zero tolerance’ for drunken yobs - said in sentencing the pair today: “This was yet another act of senseless unprovoked violence carried out by young men affected by drink.
“A man walking home alone, minding his own business, posing no conceivable threat to anybody is punched to the ground and dies of his injuries.”
Because of his young age, Cain was sentenced to be detained in a young offenders’ institution, while Wylds was sent to prison.
However, Wylds will have dedeucted from his sentence the 121 days already served on remand in jail, while Cain, who had been free on bail for much of the time, will have 31 days served in custody deducted from his sentence.
Both will be liable for early release, and could therefore spend less than 18 months in custody.
Cain’s identity had been protected throughout the trial due to Section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act, which prevents the press identifying criminals, aged under 18 years.
However, following an application by local newspaper the Somerset County Gazette, Judge Cottle lifted the anonymity.
Cain had no previous convictions, while Wylds had a reprimand and penalty notice for battery in March, 2005, and for public disorder just two months before the deadly attack on Mr Chilcott.
During the trial, the court heard how Cain had drunk 12 pints of strong Stella Artois lager during a drinking binge with Wylds and six friends on the night in question.
He picked up some Argos catalogues from a shop doorway and thought ‘it would be fun’ to throw them at the first person who walked past, which happened to be Mr Chilcott.
Then, Wylds confronted Mr Chilcott and goaded Cain into attacking him.
Cain punched Mr Chilcott resulting in his death.
Judge Cottle said the jury had ‘no difficulty in rejecting the fanciful proposition advanced by each of you that you were acting in self-defence’ in a fight with Mr Chilcott.
He said he had no doubt that social problems highlighted by the case needed to be addressed at different levels.
Judge Cottle said: “All the courts can do is to demonstrate in the sentence passed that the public have had enough of being frightened away from town and city centres by the prospect of witnessing an incident of this sort.”
Mr Chilcott’s mother, Sylvia, said in a victim impact statement: “This was an act of senseless, violent stupidity.
“We hope all those involved will always remember that they destroyed the life of a wonderful young man and have shattered the lives of all who knew him.
“We hope the people involved in taking Tim’s life realise the devastating effect that their actions have had on so many other people’s lives.”
She hoped the case would ‘deter people from taking the same path of those involved in Tim’s death on the night they took him away from us’.
Det Supt Russ Nurcombe, who was involved with the investigation, said: “This tragic and unnecessary act was fuelled by drink and violent behaviour.
“We are satisfied with the verdict today and are pleased with the judge’s comments.”