Schoolboy killer avoids a custodial sentence

The teenager appeared in private at the High Court in Edinburgh
The teenager appeared in private at the High Court in Edinburgh

A schoolboy who killed a man with a single punch in Holytown has been spared a custodial sentence.

The 15-year-old landed a blow on Jack Wilson (20) from Newarthill who fell to the ground and failed to get up after the attack.

The teenager had received a phone call from his distressed girlfriend claiming that Mr Wilson had kissed and touched her and she ran away but thought he was following her.

A judge told him in a court closed to the public that she had decided that justice was served by imposing a community sentence on him.

Lady Scott told the teenager, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, that she would pass a community payback order on him with a two and a half year offender supervision requirement.

She told him at the High Court in Edinburgh: “I am satisfied you had no intention to cause such serious injury.”

The judge said that in sentencing she had to take into account first and foremost that he was a child still only aged 15.

She said she also took account of his immaturity at the time of the fatal attack and added: “The violence involved was minimal.”

“Your victim was 20-years-old and he had his whole life ahead of him,” said Lady Scott, adding that his close knit family have been left devastated.

Lady Scott said it was clear from all the background information she had received that he was generally of good character but had also suffered tragic family circumstances.

She said the boy had also expressed “profound remorse” for the crime and accepted full responsibility for his conduct.

He earlier admitted killing Mr Wilson on October 14 last year at an area near Keir Hardie Avenue, in Holytown. The victim died in hospital two days later.

He struck the victim with one punch and aimed a kicked at him but the kick did not result in injury. Mr Wilson fell to the ground after the punch.

Advocate depute Sheena Fraser said: “Witnesses speak to hearing the deceased’s head connect with the ground.”

The boy returned to the attack scene with another teenager to check that the victim was alright but on seeing that he was still on the ground he asked the friend to call for an ambulance.

The victim was taken to Wishaw General Hospital, but a CT scan revealed extensive bleeding to both sides of his brain and he was transferred to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow where he underwent emergency neurosurgery. He died at the hospital on October 16. The cause of death was head injury

The boy told his parents that he had hit an older boy with a single punch and the “guy never got up”.

His father later went to the scene at his request and told a police officer his son was the person responsible for the assault.

The court heard that the killer had no record of offending. Defence counsel Derek Ogg QC said: “There is no history of any kind of violence. There was no previous history between my client and this person.”

He said that after the boy’s girlfriend indicated Mr Wilson was following her he had confronted him and struck the single blow.

Mr Ogg told the court that it was “a distressing and unusual case” and that the boy had been assessed as posing a very low risk of re-offending.

Mr Ogg submitted that the crime of culpable homicide attracted a wide range of sentences and asked the court to treat the boy’s case as an exceptional one.