Monday 25 September 2017

Teenage boys face jail over savage attack on homeless man

Benjamin Wright

Two boys convicted of carrying out a savage attack on a sleeping homeless man have been told they will lose their liberty.

Victim Vladimir Kazlausks was hit repeatedly over the head in an underground service road known as "junkies' tunnel".

The 54-year-old, originally from Latvia, was beaten into a dangerous state of consciousness - and suffered multiple facial fractures as well as a permanent injury to his eye socket.

Two teens - aged 15 and 17 - had protested their innocence during their trial at Cardiff Crown Court.

They were cleared of attempted murder, but convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

High Court Judge Mr Justice Jay adjourned sentencing ahead of a report into both boys' backgrounds being completed.

However, he told the court: "These were mindless assaults. There is only one sentencing option and that is one of detention.

"I can understand as to why the jury were not satisfied with the intent to kill.

"But the evidence in relation to count two was overwhelming and it did not take the jury long to reach that verdict."

After being attacked in an underground service road in Newport's Kingsway, on May 8 last year, Mr Kazlausks was taken to the nearby Royal Gwent Hospital in south Wales.

He was placed into an induced coma as well as put on a life support machine.

Doctors who cared for the stricken Mr Kazlausks described his injuries as usually found in car crash victims.

One of his eye-sockets was damaged so badly that it altered the position of his eyeball.

But while Mr Kazlausks was left fighting for his life, his attackers brazenly walked off into the night.

During their trial, prosecutor Michael Jones told the court an ecstatic looking 15-year-old was later spotted on CCTV reenacting the crime to pals.

He also told mates: "I feel high. I feel on top of the world. I want to do it again."

And that same night the eldest would brag to his friends about how the two had killed a man after hitting him "40 times".

During police interview, the two thugs tried to claim they knew nothing about the attack - but then began pointing the finger at one another as more details emerged.

Blood from Mr Kazlausks was found on a shoe of the eldest boy, while eyewitnesses said they saw the youngest with blood on his face and tracksuit top sleeve afterwards.

They tried to explain away those damning bits of evidence by saying they were only mere observers - which they claimed had left them too "shocked" and "frightened" to intervene.

During cross examination, prosecutor Mr Jones asked the eldest why he had not walked away from his co-defendant after seeing the attack.

He replied: "I don't know."

And the youngest claimed he had got blood on his sleeves because he "knelt down" to look Mr Kazlausks in the eye while being attacked - but did not check to see if the victim was breathing or conscious.

Despite blood pouring out of Mr Kazlausks' face, the youngster still thought the beating "was not that bad".

Neither of the youths can be named for legal reasons.

However, Judge Mr Justice Jay said he would listen to applications from the media for reporting restrictions to be lifted when delivering sentence.

Sentencing will take place at Cardiff Crown Court on December 2.

Press Association

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