Two jailed for murder 15 years after brutal attack
- Credit: Cambs Police
Shane Wright was 17, on a drunken night out with Kieron Hennessey, 18, when they argued with a passer-by, kicking and punching him in the head until he fell unconscious.
Paul Machin, who was walking home with his partner, never regained consciousness, remained in a vegetative state for the next 13 years, before dying of a respiratory infection.
Wright, now 32, and 33-year-old Hennessy both admitted to Mr Machin's murder at earlier hearings and were each sentenced on December 22 to life in prison with a minimum term of nine years.
Wright, originally from Eastrea near Whittlesey, and Hennessey, appeared at Cambridge Court.
Edmund Vickers QC, for Wright, who appeared by video-link from prison, said Wright was "immature", suffered from ADHD and was remorseful.
Allison Summers QC, for Hennessy, of Wesleyan Road, Peterborough, said: "This was spontaneous violence erupting on the spur of the moment."
DC Gareth Purdy said after the sentencing: “Their attack on Mr Machin was brutal.
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“Following the attack, Wright also kicked and punched Mr Machin’s distraught girlfriend and even stole from the victim as he lay lifeless on the ground.
“It was a senseless, cowardly and completely unprovoked attack, which led directly to Mr Machin’s tragic death.”
John Price QC, prosecuting, said on the night of the attack – September 6, 2006 -a member of the defendants' group insulted Mr Machin and when he responded the pair attacked him.
The judge, the Honourable Mr Justice Murray, said: "It was entirely gratuitous violence."
The two defendants were first convicted in 2007 of causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Machin.
Both were sentenced to indeterminate sentences, each with minimum terms of 42 months in prison.
Wright was also convicted of theft and of assaulting Mr Machin's partner Jane Powell.
Mr Machin, who suffered irreversible brain damage and paralysis, died at a care home in Liverpool on August 6, 2019, He was 58.
Fresh charges of murder were brought after it was concluded the assault had caused his death and Wright and Hennessey entered guilty pleas.
Mr Price said that Mr Machin and Miss Powell were walking home when Wright and Hennessy came in the other direction along Cherry Orton Road with another woman and a man.
"The members of the two groups didn't know each other," Mr Price said.
"Mr Wright and Mr Hennessy were drunk.
"As the groups passed each other insulting words were exchanged between the defendants' group and Mr Machin.
"It was an exchange started by a member of the defendants' group."
He said things escalated and Wright and Hennessy attacked Mr Machin, kicking and stamping on his head as he lay "defenceless on the ground".
Wright went through Mr Machin's pockets, taking his mobile phone and tobacco, he said.
"He never regained consciousness," Mr Price said.
"For almost 13 years he remained in what's described as a permanent vegetative state until finally he succumbed to a respiratory infection."
Miss Powell, who died in May 2020, witnessed the attack and gave a statement to police at the time, read to the court by Mr Price.
She said that as the defendants' group was near to them, she heard a male voice say "look at you two speccy old gits".
"We just kept on walking away," she said.
"Within a further four paces I heard a further male voice that I recognise to be the voice of male two (Wright) say 'I've shagged your missus'.
"We carried on for a further two or three steps before Paul turned around and said, 'You will probably be my son then, because I shagged your mum'."
She said Wright and Hennessey attacked her partner, who was knocked to the floor and punched and kicked in the head.
"While Paul was on the floor, I saw male one (Hennessy) stamp on his head about 10 times in rapid succession," she said.
"During this Paul stopped struggling."
Mr Machin's daughter Natalie Townley said: "It's upsetting my children never met their grandad."
She added: "Talking about my dad with my daughter breaks me."