The two men who murdered Jamie McMahon in a Northampton churchyard have been jailed for a minimum of 46 years.
At 12.10pm today, Judge Rupert Mayo pronounced the sentences for Mark Lewis, from Upton, and Michael Francis, of St James, at Northampton Crown Court.
Lewis, who had pleaded guilty, has been given life with a minimum of 20 years and 8 months and Francis, who had to be found guilty by trial, was given life with a minimum of 26 years.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) told the court that, although Lewis and Francis did not set out to kill Jamie on October 2 last year, in St Giles Church yard, there was an intent to cause GBH (grievous bodily harm). The Crown recommended a starting sentence of 30 years.
But after retiring to consider the sentences for 45 minutes Judge Mayo handed down sentences of 26 years and of 20 years and 8 months.
He said: “Mr McMahon was subject to a sustained attack.
“He was a popular man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“You carried no weapon but you knew where vulnerable people would be and you were prepared to use severe violence.
“No sentence will bring him back and he will be sorely missed by his family and friends. He did nothing to deserve what happened to him,
He said that the “spontaneous” attack was “vicious, rapid and mindless.”
Commenting on evidence given in defence of Francis earlier in the trial, which purported that Lewis had threatened him to keep quiet, Judge Mayo said it was “inconceivable” Francis was “in awe or fear of Lewis,” because of Francis’s actions in helping to conceal any evidence after the attack, including swapping clothing with Lewis.
Lewis had admitted the killing, but Francis denied the charges of robbery and murder.
During Francis’s trial, which finished on July 10, the court heard that Mr McMahon had been sitting on a bench in the churchyard shortly after 2am when he was attacked.
He tried to run away but had been forced to the ground and kicked at least seven times in the head.
Mr McMahon suffered a fractured eye socket and an imprint of the sole of a trainer was left on his head.
He was left dead by the side of the path and his iPhone, wallet and cash were stolen.
Francis’ barrister said: “The victim was selected because he was unlikely to offer violence. He was alone and he was eating.”
Judge Mayo gave Lewis a 10 per cent reduction in the minimum life sentence because of his guilty plea. Lewis was also given five concurrent years for Mr McMahon’s robbery.
Francis’s sentence included a concurrent eight years for the robbery.
This morning Francis’s barrister, Jonas Harkin, told the court that Lewis was the only one proven to have kicked and stamped on Mr McMahon.
But Judge Rupert Mayo said he believed Frances became directly involved in the violent attack.
In a summary, Amjad Malis, mitigating for Lewis, said his client had “exploded into violence” which was linked to suffering a childhood of abuse at the hands of his grandmother, who was his main carer after his father committed suicide.
He also said that Lewis had been involved in two previous violent robberies. A psychologist’s report said he is a person likely to respond disproportionately to confrontation.
The CPS also revealed that Francis had a history of robbery and battery charges.