January 16, 2008 / 4:44 PM / 11 years ago

Teenagers guilty of father's murder

LONDON (Reuters) - Three teenagers were found guilty on Wednesday of murdering a father-of-three who died in an attack outside his home in Cheshire.

Garry Newlove in an undated photo released by the Cheshire Police. REUTERS/Handout

Garry Newlove, 47, was set upon after he confronted the group of youths who had vandalised a mechanical digger and another vehicle in Warrington last August.

He died in hospital two days later from head injuries after being kicked like a football, police said.

On Wednesday, after more than 55 hours of deliberations, a jury found Adam Swellings, 19, Stephen Sorton, 17, and Jordan Cunliffe, 16, guilty of his murder.

Two other teenagers, aged 17 and 15, were acquitted after a trial lasting several weeks at Chester Crown Court.

Media reports said the teenagers broke down as the verdicts were returned.

Swellings had earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Newlove’s death sparked a wave of emotion and public anger.

It also led to the area’s police chief calling for the legal drinking age in Britain to be raised to 21 to stem anti-social and violent behaviour.

Tributes were lead by his youngest daughter, Amy, 12, who wrote a letter written at his hospital bedside.

In it, she described her father as “the best dad anyone can ask for”.

“I can’t get across to you how much I will miss you and I don’t know what I would do without you,” she wrote. “You have always been there for me when I am down and you always put a smile on my face (even if it is a rubbish joke).”

Newlove, a sales manager, had met police three months before his murder to discuss setting up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme after a spate of youth crime in the area.

Outside court, his wife, Helen said in a statement her other two daughters, Zoe and Danielle remained devastated.

“The light has gone out of our lives,” she said. “It’s like a piece of our jigsaw has been lost forever.

“The tiniest of things that we use to do as a family feels like it takes us forever to achieve them.

“We all sit at home and wait for Garry to walk through the door as if he’s been to his head office in Coventry for meetings, which we know will never happen.”

“To think that Garry recovered from stomach cancer 15 years ago and to be taken in such terrible circumstances - what is the point of everything?”

Detective Inspector Geoff Elvey, of Cheshire police, said: “The murder of Garry Newlove was a vicious, senseless, and violent attack by a group of cowardly young men who took issue with Garry exercising what should be one of our fundamental human rights namely the protection of our family and property.

Mr Justice Andrew Smith will sentence the trio on a date to be set.

Editing by Stephen Addison and Jeremy Lovell

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