March 18, 2008 / 3:21 PM / 12 years ago

Teen girl detained over "happy slapping" death

LONDON (Reuters) - A teenage girl who filmed the fatal beating of a man on her mobile phone was detained for two years at Leeds Crown Court on Tuesday in the first prosecution of its kind.

Girls use mobile phones in a file photo. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The 15-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is believed to be the first person prosecuted in England for a so-called “happy slapping” incident.

She had pleaded guilty last month to aiding and abetting the manslaughter of Gavin Waterhouse, 27 from Keighley, West Yorkshire .

Mark Masters, 19, from Keighley, and Sean Thompson, 17, from Bradford were sentenced to seven and six years respectively last week after admitting to Waterhouse’s manslaughter.

The victim died from a ruptured spleen after being beaten by the two youths last September.

Just before the attack, the girl was handed a mobile phone by one of the attackers and told to “video this”, prosecutors said.

She then approached Waterhouse, asked for money, and recorded the subsequent attack.

She was sentenced to serve a two-year detention training order.

Police said they were satisfied with the court’s decision.

“These sentences not only send out a strong message against those people involved in the violence, but to those who stand by and watch or in some way support a violent act — in this case by filming it on a mobile phone,” said Detective Superintendent Paul Kennedy.

A Crown Prosecution Service spokeswoman last month hailed the girl’s conviction as a legal landmark.

“As far as I am aware, this is the first time a suspect in England and Wales has been successfully prosecuted for aiding and abetting murder or manslaughter, for the filming of an inaptly called, ‘happy slapping’ incident,” she said.

Reporting by Tim Castle; Editing by Steve Addison

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