Teenage gang found guilty of murder

08/05/2014

A gang of five teenagers, some as young as 14, have been found guilty of murdering a 19 year old man in a Liverpool launderette.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that the gang of five youths said they were after Sean McHugh because he'd attacked one of their mates previously.

They had cornered Mr McHugh, of Beckett Street in Liverpool, in a launderette in Priory Road, Anfield, around 7pm on 30 September 2013. He took refuge in a locked back room having been chased by the group.

The gang, with their 19 year old leader, Reese O'Shaughnessy, were armed with knives, a sword and a broom handle and forced the back door to the room where he was hiding.

Mr McHugh was beaten and stabbed and the gang ran out, watched by the terrified launderette attendant and a passer-by.

Mr McHugh managed to escape and was found in an alleyway behind the launderette. He'd been stabbed in the groin and had lost a lot of blood. He died a few days later in hospital.

The court heard that O'Shaughnessy, Corey Hewitt, 14, Joseph McGill, 14, Keyfer Dykstra, 14, and Andrew Hewitt, 15, were part of a gang known as "the Laneheads" who hung around a cinder path near to Townsend Lane.

They had a stash of weapons, including samurai swords, machetes and knives, hidden around the cinder path.

Prosecuting, Nick Johnson, said: "Why would the gang need weapons? To deter, repel and deal with rivals."

O'Shaughnessy was described as a drug dealer in court. At the time of the offence, two of the other gang members involved in the murder were just 13, two were 14 and one was 15.

A 15 year old boy who was also charged in connection with the offence was found not guilty.

Mr McHugh's friend Josh Williams had also been targeted by the gang on the day but he'd managed to get away.

Nick Johnson said: "Make no mistake, this ended up as a gang attack on a single helpless and defenceless victim."

Rachael Barber, Senior Crown Prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service Mersey-Cheshire, said: "This was a vicious and brutal attack by a gang on a man on his own who had simply gone to do some washing at a Laundrette on Priory Road.

"No-one accepted responsibility for stabbing Mr McHugh. The five convicted defendants have denied throughout that they acted as a pack and claimed they'd wanted a fist-fight 'straightener' as revenge for the attack on their mate - one-on-one. 

"But it was clear from the evidence that this was a lie, they had set out together to injure Mr McHugh and were armed with knives, a sword and a broom handle.

"Most of the gang were just children at the time yet they were willing to use deadly weapons and act together to attack Mr McHugh - an attack that ultimately resulted in his death.

"That act has altered their lives forever and left the family of Mr McHugh to try and come to terms with the loss of their loved one."

The five teenagers will be sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on 2 July 2014.