Brothers who left victim in pool of blood after dragging him from taxi have jail terms increased

Three thugs who dragged a passenger from a taxi before leaving him in a pool of blood after a retribution attack have had their jail terms increased.

Saturday, 24th July 2021, 4:45 am
Brothers, from left to right, Sean Riley, Jason Smith and Ethan Smith, have had their sentences increased following a violent attack in Wheatley Hill.

East Durham brothers Sean Riley, 28, Ethan Smith, 20, and Jason Smith, 22, were originally locked up for six years and 11 months each earlier this year after admitting causing grievous bodily harm in the New Year’s Day incident.

Yet the Attorney General’s office decided to contest the sentences at London’s Court of Appeal in a bid to have them increased.

Thursday’s appeal was successful and the three, who are all from Wheatley Hill, will now serve eight years and six months each.

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Sean Riley and his two brothers will now serve eight years and six months.

Durham Crown Court was told in May how the three stopped a moving taxi in the village’s Dodds Close before dragging a passenger into the street from the vehicle.

They then repeatedly struck the victim, who was known to them, with a weapon and left him with a broken jaw and eye socket.

Quick-thinking neighbours rang emergency services and the victim was taken to James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, where he was left in a critical condition and fighting for his life in the days after the ordeal.

Police said after the initial court case that the casualty’s fate “could so easily have been worse”.

Jason Smith, 22, has had his sentence increased to eight years and six months.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Thubron, who led the investigation said: “This was a short lived but vicious attack which took place in broad daylight and in full view of members of the public.

“The victim was kicked, punched and repeatedly hit with a weapon, then left on the kerbside with significant injuries.

“The quick response of paramedics and extensive hospital treatment meant the victim survived, but with the level of violence used this could so easily have been worse.

He said “the assault was planned as retribution” following as earlier violent incident inside a Wheatley Hill property and that an extensive manhunt followed after the Smiths fled County Durham.

Ethan Smith will also serve eight years and six months.

A prolonged police presence continued in the village during the inquiry.

A full explanation for the Court of Appeal’s decision is expected to be published soon.

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The brothers have had their sentences increased at London's Court of Appeal.

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Police in Dodds Close, Wheatley Hill, following the New Year's Day attack.