‘They watched him die’: Teenagers jailed for 50 years for ‘horrific’ canal killing of stranger

Three teenagers who killed a complete stranger by attacking and pushing him into a canal have been sentenced to almost 50 years in custody.

Liam Bailey, Liam O’Brien and Harry Maher – now aged between 16 and 19 – lured father-of-one Scott Anderton to the secluded spot after chancing across him in Leigh town centre at around 4am on 25 March.

There, the trio set about the 33-year-old with such savagery his body was left with 35 separate injuries from head to shins.

CCTV footage showed he was still alive when thrown into the Leeds and Liverpool canal, while post-mortem evidence suggested his attackers would have continued to rain blows on him even as he attempted to escape.

In a shocking display of callousness, two of the attackers – Mr Bailey and Mr O’Brien – returned to the scene later that morning to film the police cordon. “Hot in Leigh Town,” Mr O’Brien can be heard saying.

Mr Bailey, 19, pleaded guilty to murder, while Mr Maher, 16, was found guilty of the same charge. Mr O'Brien, 17, was convicted of manslaughter.

The latter two were named for the first time on Friday, despite being under 18, after reporting restrictions were lifted because of the sheer horror of the killing.

Judge Alan Conrad QC told them that the “scale and savagery of the violence used almost defy belief”.

The trio had initially seen Mr Anderton – described by the court as “vulnerable” – as he walked through the Greater Manchester town wearing just one shoe.

After luring him to the canal, they subject him to the horrific brutality that would end his life.

CCTV released by Greater Manchester Police showed the four walking there. In it, one of the teenagers can be seen carrying a bag of weapons.

Later video footage showed ripples in the canal water – believed to have been the moment the victim hit the water.

Speaking at the time of his death, his family described him as “the most caring, loving, kindest person you could meet”.

They said: “He made time for anyone he met and would always be there if anyone needed help. Even on the darkest of days Scott was always positive and had the cheekiest smile which was infectious. Scott was our kid.”

And they added: “You are truly loved, Scott. We promise you will never be forgotten.”

After the sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Liz Hopkinson called the killing an “extremely violent, callous and unprovoked attack”.

She said: “They showed absolutely no remorse for their heinous actions, ignoring his cries for help, before watching him die in the canal.”

Mr Bailey, of Diamond Street, Leigh, received a life term and must serve a minimum of 23 years and four months in custody.

He was also found guilty of attempting to rob another man in the hours before Mr Anderton's murder. And he pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to inflicting grievous bodily harm on a 40-year-old man who suffered life-changing injuries in yet another attack on 1 September last year.

Mr Maher, of Green Lane, Standish, was also given a life term with a minimum of 16 years before he can be considered for parole. Meanwhile, Mr O'Brien, of Schofield Street, Leigh, was sentenced to 10 years in youth custody.

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