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Three teenagers who killed dog walker in ‘vicious’ attack after row in park are detained

A 16-year-old girl and two boys, aged 15 and 16, admitted the manslaughter of ‘much-loved’ John Hackett, 36, in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, last year (Warwickshire Police)
A 16-year-old girl and two boys, aged 15 and 16, admitted the manslaughter of ‘much-loved’ John Hackett, 36, in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, last year (Warwickshire Police)

Three teenagers who killed a dog walker in a “vicious” attack after a row in a park have been detained.

The 16-year-old girl and two boys, aged 15 and 16, had admitted the manslaughter of “much-loved” John Hackett, 36, in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, last year.

The 36-year-old was pronounced dead at his home the following day after his body was found by his “devastated” mother, whom he cared for and shared the house with.

The teenagers, who cannot be identified because of their age, were all handed detention and training orders, which are custodial sentences, by Mr Justice Choudhury KC at Warwick Crown Court in Leamington Spa on Thursday. The 16-year-old girl, from the Nuneaton area, was handed an 18-month sentence, while the 15-year-old boy, from Willencote, Staffordshire, was sentenced to two years, and the 16-year-old boy, from Nuneaton, was handed a two-year sentence.

The 36-year-old was pronounced dead at his home the following day after his body was found by his ‘devastated’ mother, whom he cared for and shared the house with (Warwickshire Police)
The 36-year-old was pronounced dead at his home the following day after his body was found by his ‘devastated’ mother, whom he cared for and shared the house with (Warwickshire Police)

The defendants had previously denied murder at a hearing at the same court in January, with the pleas accepted by the Crown.

In a victim impact statement read to the court on Thursday, Mr Hackett’s mother Christine Smith said of the death of her son: “I wish to state that it has ruined my life and put me through hell.”

Paying tribute to Mr Hackett following the sentencing, his family said in a statement: “We are devasted by John’s passing. We have lost a much-loved son, brother, nephew and cousin, taken from us because of a mindless act of violence. John was bullied and tormented for weeks leading to his tragic death. There isn’t a day goes by without us thinking of John and what he went through.

“We will never be able to forgive those involved.”

A Home Office postmortem found Mr Hackett (pictured as a child) had died from severe abdominal injuries described as the equivalent of him having been in a car crash (Warwickshire Police)
A Home Office postmortem found Mr Hackett (pictured as a child) had died from severe abdominal injuries described as the equivalent of him having been in a car crash (Warwickshire Police)

In the weeks leading up to the assault, police said the defendants had verbally abused Mr Hackett as he walked his dog through Snowhill Recreation Ground. They attacked him when he finally confronted them about their behaviour at around 6.15pm on 25 April.

DCI O’Keefe told The Independent the defendants were among a group of 12 teenagers, some of whom filmed the incident on their mobile phones. The girl was initially among those filming before she joined in with the violence.

After being alerted by Mr Hackett and a member of the public, police attended and spoke to the three attackers who all claimed they were acting in self-defence.

The officers then went to Mr Hackett’s house where they found him in considerable distress, having suffered injuries to his head and chest, and rushed him to hospital.

In the weeks leading up to the assault, police said the defendants had verbally abused Mr Hackett as he walked his dog through Snowhill Recreation Ground (Google Maps)
In the weeks leading up to the assault, police said the defendants had verbally abused Mr Hackett as he walked his dog through Snowhill Recreation Ground (Google Maps)

However, he discharged himself two hours later and went back home, where he collapsed the following morning.

Mr Hackett was pronounced dead at around 8am the following day after emergency services were called to an address on Camp Hill Road, Nuneaton.

By that time, footage of the attack – described as “haunting” by DCI O’Keefe – had been widely shared on social media, with officers urging people not to share it with others.

The three offenders were arrested later that day.

A Home Office postmortem found Mr Hackett had died from severe abdominal injuries described as the equivalent of him having been in a car crash.

Following the sentencing, DCI O’Keefe issued a warning about the unintended consequences of violent crime.

She said: “The level of violence shown by these offenders was truly shocking and Mr Hackett must have been terrified throughout.

“Our thoughts are with his family who have understandably been left devastated by his death.

“This incident should serve as a warning to people – violence has consequences, and sometimes those consequences can be tragic. These three young people may not have intended to kill Mr Hackett, but that is ultimately what happened, and like Mr Hackett’s family, they will live with the consequences of their actions for the rest of their lives.”

She added: “No outcome can ever change what has happened, but I hope Mr Hackett’s family can now start to rebuild their lives after such a terrible ordeal.”