Five men are facing life in prison for the brutal revenge attack murder of a former soldier.
Ian Smith, 22, suffered massive head injuries after being repeatedly struck with a pickaxe handle and kicked by the gang.
John Dean Richardson 44, of Wakefield Road, Fitzwilliam, Bradley Parkin, 22, of Mallard Mews, South Elmsall, Neil Brown, 29, also of Mallard Mews, and Liam Ackroyd, 22, of Bell Lane, Ackworth, were all found guilty of murder yesterday after a three-week trial at Leeds Crown Court.
John Simon Richardson, 23 – son of John Dean – of Kinsley House Crescent, Fitzwilliam, had already pleaded guilty to murder.
The jury of six men and six women took more than 18 hours to reach unanimous verdicts. Mr Smith’s relatives and some jury members wept as the four men were led from the dock.
The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC, said all five must be given life sentences by law. He adjourned the case until Friday when each will be told how long they must serve before being eligible to apply for parole.
The trial heard Mr Smith was attacked and left for dead on the pavement in the early hours of February 19 after being chased through South Elmsall town centre.
Earlier in the evening he had been out with his family celebrating his aunt’s 60th birthday. He then went to meet his girlfriend at the Mega Love takeaway when he was involved in a dispute with John Dean Richardson.
John Dean Richardson had been in an altercation with a group of other youths, not connected with Mr Smith, moments earlier as he also walked to the takeaway. This caused him to phone Brown and the other three men who were all drinking at his flat on Mallard Mews.
As Mr Smith was stood with food at the takeaway he was then involved in an argument with John Dean Richardson. Mr Smith punched him twice and pushed him to the ground. Moments later the four men arrived in a van and a car and John Dean Richardson told Mr Smith: “Now it’s your turn.”
John Simon Richardson took a pick axe handle from the van and the group gave chase before carrying out the attack.
Det Supt Sukbir Singh, the senior investigating officer in the case, said: “The evening of February 18 this year began as a celebration for Ian Smith and his family but ended in tragedy after he was subjected to a brutal attack by a gang of men intent on causing him serious harm. He was subjected to a despicable level of violence.
“These mindless acts robbed a family of their son – my thoughts today are with Ian’s family and friends who I hope can take some comfort from the convictions of those responsible.”