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Stephen Weeks and Drew Thorpe were found guilty by a jury at Warwick Crown Court after a five week trial.

These are the faces of two men sentenced to life following the murder of ‘lovable rogue’ Lee Brooks.

Stephen Weeks, 48, and Drew Thorpe, 19, were told on Thursday by a Crown Court judge that they would spend at least 16 years and 12 years in prison respectively.

The pair were found guilty by a jury at Warwick Crown Court after a five week trial.

The pair attacked Mr Brooks with a claw hammer and a spanner while he slept at Weeks’ home in Hugh Road during the morning of August 26, 2016.

Stephen Weeks (left) and Drew Thorpe (right)

Stephen Weeks (left) and Drew Thorpe (right)

Despite the best efforts of the emergency services and medical staff, he died five days later in hospital.

Weeks, of Hugh Road, Stoke, and Thorpe, of Hollis Road, Stoke, had denied murder.

Sentencing judge Richard Griffith-Jones said: “I am acutely aware of the terrible shock that it is when a loved one dies suddenly.

“When that happens in circumstances of this brutality it is all the more shocking. So also is it a terrible thing for a person to outlive their own child.

“I hope they will be able to pass onto Lee Brooks’ children memories of him and his character which will be so important…that they will be able to have affection and pride in the person that gave them life that is no longer there.”
Coventry Telegraph

THREE grandparents have been jailed for attacking a couple outside a pub – because they thought the male victim was Polish.

Paul Clarke, Sean Pickerill and Judith Pickerill – all in their forties – took part in the assault on Slovakian Milan Panacek and his English girlfriend Genevieve Barnett during a night out in Newcastle.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard tension had sparked between the male defendants and Mr Panacek because of the design of T-shirts they were wearing.

Sean Pickerill’s top bore the logo ‘Blood and Honour – England’, while Clarke’s had the brand ‘One True Saxon’.

Mr Panacek’s shirt had a quote in Spanish relating to the country’s civil war.

Following a disagreement on the dancefloor of The Rigger pub, Mr Panacek and Miss Barnett went outside where they were attacked by a group of around eight people, which included the defendants.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Power said: “They were shouting racial abuse about Mr Panacek being Polish.

“He tried to tell them he wasn’t Polish.

“Judith Pickerill punched Miss Barnett and scratched her to the face.

She pulled her backwards, pulling at her hair extensions.

“She fell to the floor and hit her head on the pavement.

“Her extensions were pulled out at the roots and blood was coming from her head.”

Judith Pickerill, aged 45, of St Bernard’s Road, Newcastle, went on to assault the pub’s manager Robert Birchill.

Father-of-three Sean Pickerill, aged 46, and Clarke were attacking Mr Panacek.

Police arrived to find the group which included the defendants making Nazi salutes and shouting: “Go back to your own country.”

Miss Power said witnesses described the group as ‘like a pack of animals’.

The court heard Miss Barnett suffered injuries including concussion and whiplash, and suffered blackouts after the incident.

Mr Panacek, who has lived in the UK for six years, had a fractured nose.

All three defendants pleaded guilty to racially aggravated assault occasioning actually bodily harm. Judith Pickerill also admitted common assault.

The court heard they all had previous convictions but had not been in trouble for a number of years.

Marc Davies, representing Judith Pickerill and 47-year-old Clarke, also of St Bernard’s Road, said: “They are ashamed and very sorry.

“These are two people that had been out of trouble for a long time, addressed any issues with drugs and settled down with families and full time employment.

“They are active and involved grandparents.”

Paul Cliff, representing Sean Pickerill, of St Giles Road, Knutton – who also has a grandchild – said: “He works in the construction industry alongside people from all over the world including Eastern Europeans and there have been no problems.”

Judge David Fletcher sentenced each defendant to 12 months in prison. He told them: “This was an ugly, appalling incident. Your racial comments, in the hearing of numerous people, were completely ignorant. You are three people in your mid-forties. That makes this offence even more shocking.”

Stoke Sentinel

sean-pickerill

HEAVY drinker Kelvin Chell hit his partner in the face up to four times – moments after revealing he wanted to end their relationship.

The 36-year-old left Zoe Platt with bruised eyes and swelling to her forehead after she confronted him about their possible split.

Now Chell has been jailed for 25 weeks after admitting assaulting Miss Platt.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard the couple had been together for three years.

But by August 24 last year their relationship was coming to an end.

Prosecutor Joanne Wallbanks said: “They were together at her flat. He told her he intended to leave. She took that badly. There was a physical confrontation. He struck her to her face three or four times and left.”

Chell, formerly of Carryer Place, Poolfields, Newcastle, answered no comment to questions in his police interview. But he later pleaded guilty to assault.

Jason Holt, mitigating, said both Chell and Miss Platt had a problem with alcohol at the time of the incident.

Mr Holt said: “The incident stemmed from his desire to leave the relationship.”

The court heard Chell now has a new partner and has significantly reduced the amount he drinks.

Mr Holt added: “He is in a settled relationship, and in a very settled job. He does not wish to have any further contact with the complainant.”

Mr Holt asked Judge Paul Glenn to avoid sending Chell to jail after arguing society would be better protected if he was given the chance to work with the probation service.

But the judge said the offence was so serious that the defendant had to be jailed.

Judge Glenn said: “You have a propensity for violence.

“Zoe Platt was your partner and you plainly both had difficulties with alcohol.

“You fell out on August 24 and you struck her a number of blows, you say no more than three or four. But they were obviously with some force because they caused significant bruising and swelling and she was left feeling shocked and scared.

“The problem with you seems to be when you are in drink, you can’t control your temper.

“You are a big man. To hit her three or four times and that seems to be unnecessary on any show.”

Stoke Sentinel

Matthew Walley

Matthew Walley

DRUNKEN Matthew Walley smashed a man over the head with a bottle – after he was asked to put his dog on a lead.

The 22-year-old was told by Mark Dias to put his dog on a leash as he was concerned it may harm his partner’s cat.

But Walley who had drunk 20 cans of lager, became aggressive.

Mr Dias told him he did not want any trouble but the defendant raised his hand and smashed a bottle or glass on his head causing a 2cm cut

Now Walley has been jailed for two years and three months after admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard Walley had spent May 25 drinking and at 11pm Mr Dias noticed the defendant’s dog was in his partner’s garden in Silverdale Road, Newcastle.

Prosecutor Joanne Wallbanks said: “Mr Dias asked the defendant if he would put the dog on its lead as he was concerned his partner’s cat would be harmed.

“The defendant was acting as if he had been drinking, and was irrational and aggressive.

“The defendant said, ‘Come on lad’. He was twice the size as Mr Dias who said he did not want any trouble.

“The defendant raised his hand and slammed a bottle or glass on Mr Dias’s head causing a 1cm-2cm laceration, which was glued.”

Police arrived and Walley said: “If you touch me I will set my dog on you.”

The court heard Walley, of Kimberley Road, Newcastle, has previous convictions for threatening behaviour, robbery, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Stuart Muldoon, mitigating, said Walley had a history of mental illness but his family have seen a dramatic change in him as a result of the medication he has been prescribed.

Mr Muldoon said: “He is adamant that his future is positive. He now realises the triggers behind his offending, both the use of alcohol, binge drinking, and the regular use of cannabis. He appreciates cannabis exacerbates whatever issues are going on in his mind.”

Judge Paul Glenn said a sentence of immediate custody was inevitable and jailed Walley for 27 months.

He said: “Mr Dias was simply trying to get his partner’s cat in the house. He was concerned about the cat’s safety and asked you to put your dog on a lead.

“You became aggressive and confrontational.

“He was scared and he told you he did not want any trouble. You smashed a glass or bottle against his head and the glass shattered.

“Fortunately the injuries were not as serious as they could have been but they required hospital treatment.”

Judge Glenn said the offence was aggravated because Walley used a weapon, he has relevant previous convictions, he was on bail for another matter and was drunk.

He added: “As matters stand you represent a high risk of re-offending and of causing serious harm to other people.”

Stoke Sentinel

Matt Walley facebook

Matt Walley facebook

Lee wells 1

A HOMELESS man attacked a worker going home from a Christmas party so severely his face had to be reconstructed.

Nineteen-year-old Lee Wells, who was on bail for brandishing a hammer 10 days earlier, set on 42-year-old Robert Johnson outside the YMCA hostel in Harding Road, Hanley.

The incident occurred in the early hours of December 6 last year as Mr Johnson made his way from The Quality Hotel in Trinity Street.

He was left with a fractured jaw and eye sockets and had to undergo four operations to have plates inserted into his face.

Wells, of no fixed address, who pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm, was sentenced at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court yesterday.

Paul Spratt, prosecuting, said: “Mr Johnson left the Quality Hotel in Hanley some time after midnight.

“He had no other recollection of the events that occurred except that he was the subject of assault leading to substantial injuries.

“On returning home he realised he had forgotten his keys and left them at the Quality Hotel.”

Mr Johnson then returned by taxi to the hotel, where he collected his keys and set off home again.

Mr Spratt added: “It was at the point that he was walking back from Hanley town centre past the YMCA that the attack occurred. He says he was attacked but has no recollection of the attack as it occurred.”

The court heard Mr Johnson had been left with headaches, numbness in his face and difficulty eating as a result of the incident.

At the time of the attack, Wells was on bail for an incident on November 25 when he was caught with a hammer in Harding Road. On that occasion, he was in the company of two other men who were found with an African-style club and a knife.

He tried to prevent arrest by hiding in a ground floor storeroom of the hostel but was discovered.

Sarah Badrawy, defending, said Wells had experienced a very difficult upbringing. She said: “He had a number of adverse events at a crucial stage in his life.

“He suffered from rejection from both his family and rejection from his foster family.

“It is at that stage he found himself of no fixed abode. He spent his life moving from different friends’ sofas and homeless hostels.”

Referring to two psychiatric reports, Judge Granville Styler said Wells was “very dangerous young man” but said he was limited in his sentencing options.

He imposed a 12-month jail sentence for possessing an offensive weapon and affray, and 30 months consecutively for the grievous bodily harm.

He said: “The public should know that the psychiatric report says he poses a high risk of serious harm to others.”

Stoke Sentinel

Simon Beech and Garreth Foster denied setting fire to the mosque

Simon Beech and Garreth Foster denied setting fire to the mosque

Two men have each been sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found guilty of deliberately setting fire to a Stoke-on-Trent mosque.

Ex-soldier Simon Beech, 23, and Garreth Foster, 29, both from Stoke, were found guilty of setting fire to Hanley’s Regent Road mosque on 3 December.

The pair had denied committing arson with intent to endanger life.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard it was in revenge for Muslim extremists burning poppies on Armistice Day.

Beech told the court during the four-day trial that he had been a member of the English Defence League and the British National Party. But he said he was not racist and did not believe his views to be extreme.

‘Nuke all mosques’

Paul Spratt, prosecuting, told the jury of five men and seven women that police had been able to establish that Beech “felt very strongly about Muslims” after accessing his Facebook account.

“He found persons through Facebook who had like-minded views. One observation he plainly agreed with was ‘Nuke All Mosques’.”

The mosque, which was partially built at the time of the fire, had not been fitted out

The jury heard that one of Beech’s online comments read: “The time has come. They burn our poppies, we burn their place. Burn the lot of them out.”

Beech told jurors his views were not aimed at the whole Muslim community but at extremist individuals.

When giving evidence in his defence Foster told the court: “I have always personally got on well with Muslims.

“Throughout all my schools I have always had Asian friends.”

The pair both denied running a pipe into the building from a nearby gas meter in a bid to spark an explosion at the mosque, which suffered about £50,000 damage as a result of the fire.

Community ‘dignified’

Speaking after the verdicts were delivered, Rana Tufail, a member of the mosque committee, said it was “difficult” to describe the arson attack.

He said: “It is a community project.

“They have put their soul into it. They have put their earnings into it and they [Beech and Foster] tried to destroy it.

“We are happy that it’s still standing.”

Ch Supt Bernie O’Rielly, from Staffordshire Police, added that he had no doubts that the pair’s intention was to “blow the mosque up”.

“Without doubt that would have caused hate in the community, division in the community and broken down all the cohesion and good work we do,” he said.

“The community around this area have been an absolute credit. They’ve acted with such restraint and so dignified in the face of such provocation.”

BBC News