Cousins jailed for life for murder of Teesside hero

Two teenage cousins who led a mob attack on a young hero have been jailed for life for his murder.

Monday, 20th June 2016, 5:26 pm
Updated Monday, 20th June 2016, 6:28 pm
Teesside Crown Court

Shane Tunney, 24, died in hospital from his injuries four weeks after he was beaten by what police said was a "pack" of yobs in Norton, Teesside, last June.

His friend Anthony Kirk was also struck with a metal bar when they were set on by youths who had thrown food at them from the roof of a Tesco.

Mr Tunney had managed to flag down a taxi but went back to help his friend during the attack, which police said they had done nothing to provoke.

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Cousins Keiran Terry Davis and Kearan Harry Davis, both 18, were convicted of murder following a trial at Teesside Crown Court.

Five other teenagers were cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter at the trial in May.

Mr Justice Andrew Smith jailed the cousins for life, with Keiran Terry Davis receiving a minimum term of 15 years and Kearan Harry Davis a minimum term of 13 years.

Keiran Terry Davis was "a leader of a mob of defendants", the judge said. He had also attacked a neighbour with a weapon and left him brain damaged in a previous attack and had a criminal record since he was 10.

His cousin, who made a "peace sign" to the public gallery as he was led away, led the initial attack on Mr Tunney.

Five others encouraged the attack and joined in by "harrying" the two victims who were chased by the mob, the judge said. They had been convicted of manslaughter.

Brandon Pitt, 18, was sentenced to seven years; Jake Douglas, 18, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years; and Daniel Hunt, 18, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years.

A 17-year-old was sentenced to four years and a 16-year-old was sentenced to three years and nine months. The judge did not lift reporting restrictions which prevent the media from naming the under-18s.

The judge paid tribute to Mr Tunney, who was a car valeter, saying he was a "wholly decent man" who was kind to others.

Mr Tunney's partner of five years Vix Cooper went to the witness box to read out a powerful victim personal statement about the devastation she and his family felt at his loss.

She described in great detail the ordeal they went through as he fought for life in hospital, at one point having almost all his skull removed, such were his brain injuries.

She said: "The most heart-breaking thing is knowing all of this could have been avoided."

Mr Tunney's mother Jean Wilson had her statement read for her, and it included the tragic comment: "Words cannot describe the final hours trying to watch our 24-year-old healthy son taking his last breath."

After the gang members were convicted in May, Detective Chief Inspector Steve Young paid tribute to Mr Tunney, saying: "On that evening, Shane was a hero and he should be remembered as just that.

"Those responsible acted in a pack, carefully coordinating their attack on Shane and Anthony.

"They were viciously assaulted with a metal bar for no reason. The victims were simply going to pick up food and did not ask for a fight."