Nine of the ten teens found guilty of murdering Jack Woodley are set to appeal their convictions. Jack Woodley, 18, was stabbed in the back with a “Rambo-style” knife after a gang of young thugs surrounded and attacked him in Houghton-le-Spring last October. The unfortunate incident took place when Woodley was walking home from a funfair. The teenagers reportedly murdered the 18-year-old “solely for excitement and pleasure,” according to the Daily Mail.
The ten teenagers, aged 14 to 18, were convicted in June after a long trial at Newcastle Crown Court in which witnesses described how Jack was “isolated” by a mob who were “like zombies attacking an animal.” One 15-year-old admitted delivering the fatal knife blow, but the jury found all 10 guilty of murder. Woodley was due to start a job the Monday after he was attacked and was on the way to pick up keys for his new apartment, but was punched, kicked, stamped on, and stabbed on October 16.
Prosecutors said the group had gone out “looking for serious trouble that day” and tried to “create conflict” with Woodley at the festival as they “looked for any excuse to attack someone.” BBC reported that Woodley refused when they challenged him to a fight but they followed him out of the fair accompanied by about 30 to 40 youths. As Woodley neared the Britannia Inn, a 16-year-old boy ran up and punched him from behind triggering a fight during which a 15-year-old boy fatally stabbed Woodley in the back. Judge Rodney Jameson QC said that each teen, none of whom can be identified, was responsible for Woodley’s death but their involvement varied.
He said, any of the teens had the opportunity to withdraw from the attack but the “mob mentality took over and it cost Jack his life,” although he said not all of them “intended to kill.” “He had much to look forward to and must have had high hopes for the future,” he said, adding, “None of those hopes will now be fulfilled.” He said the feast was seen as an “opportunity” by some young people to fight over “trivial rivalries” between neighboring communities and Woodley was marked by the attackers as being a “townie.”
While sentencing the group, the judge said “No sentence can restore Jack to his family and loved ones, or reduce the pain they will endure now and in the future. It may seem unfair that you will be able to live at liberty while still young men, while Jack cannot because of what you did.” The case is thought to have been one of the first times as many as 10 defendants have been found guilty of one murder, according to ChronicleLive. “You decided to put the interests of yourself and your co-defendants before those of Jack and his family. You did everything you could to deny them justice. I’m sure you do regret what happened for many reasons, but regret is not remorse” added the judge.
The 15-year-old with the blade, who had moved to the North East to escape a city’s gang and knife culture is set to serve at least 17 years. The 16-year-old boy who launched the attack must serve at least 13 years six months. A 17-year-old who was part of the group who went with the boy to get his knife shortly before the attack will serve at least 15 years. The youngest defendant who was 14 at the time and now 15, is set to serve eight years as the judge said his youth and low IQ meant he was “not as much to blame as most of the others in the dock.” A 15-year-old who was 14 at the time who exchanged friendly “fist bumps” with the victim before the attack and shouted “get the chopper out” will serve at least 13 years. An 18-year-old who was 17 at the time and who the judge said it was a “crying shame” had got “caught up” in the trouble having overcome a low IQ and ADHD to get a job where he was well-regarded, must serve at least 11 years. A 16-year-old who was 15 at the time will serve at least 11 years after the judge said he was seen for a couple of seconds on mobile phone footage moving towards the brawl with his head concealed by a hood or balaclava, although the youth was not named by any witnesses and did not give any account to police or the court. A 15-year-old who was 14 at the time will serve at least 10 years as the judge said he was a “fighter” with a history of violent behaviour but a low IQ meaning he was “easily led.” An 18-year-old, who was 17 at the time and also part of the group who got the knife but deemed by the judge not to be “particularly bright or an obvious leader,” will serve at least 15 years. A 16-year-old who was 15 at the time who told the court he grappled Woodley but he had not realised it was the victim and he was trying to stop the attack must serve at least 11 years.
The total minimum terms for all the defendants adds up to 124 years and six months.
Jack Woodley is survived by his father, John Woodley, mother Zoey McGill, stepfather Chris McGill, and siblings Jayden, Jenson, and Tyler. Zoey said the whole family would be “forever haunted about how horrific Jack’s injuries were.”