Five teenagers found guilty of perverting the course of justice over the death of 16-year-old Morgan Huelin have been given sentences of between 140 hours of community service and a 12-month binding over order.
The five – who all denied the charges relating to the death of the teenager last July – were found guilty after a two-week trial in March of having tried to mislead the police to avoid getting one of the group into trouble over drugs found in the house where they had spent the night.
The sentences passed down by the Youth Court yesterday afternoon range from 140 hours of community service for the first defendant, who was also found guilty of possessing drugs and indecent images of children, to 100 hours of community service for one of the other teenagers, 50 hours for two defendants, and a 12-month binding over order for the final defendant.
The first defendant is also being placed on the Sex Offender’s Register for the indecent images – the court ordered that he would not be able to apply to be removed from the list for at least two years.
The parents of each of the boys have also been ordered to pay £4,000 towards the cost of the prosecution.
After evidence from paramedics, police officers, passers-by and two of the boys, the court in March found that the boys moved Morgan from the garage where he was found unconscious the morning after a party, to throw the police off their scent, and to keep them away from the house because of fears an investigation would reveal that one of them had used drugs.
The defence had argued that they moved Morgan not out of fear of the police, but because they didn’t want their parents to find out about the drug use.
Morgan died of respiratory failure brought on by drug use – a post mortem examination found he had morphine, codeine and a former “legal high” called Etizolam in his system. He had been found unconscious in the garage of one of the boys after a party the night before – when they found him, they carried him 160 yards down the street before two passers-by stopped them and called an ambulance.
Evidence from passers-by, paramedics and police officers heard by the court shows that the boys gave conflicting and evasive answers when questioned about what had gone on when asked on the morning of his death.
Announcing the court’s sentence yesterday at around 5 pm, the head of the Youth Panel, Bridget Shaw, said that the case had a profound effect on Morgan’s family, as well as the five defendants and their own families.
“None of these young men are charged in connection with the death of Morgan Huelin, and our sentences are not going to reflect anything with the death, with which they are not charged,” said Mrs Shaw.
“The events which led to these charges were very sad and tragic events for all concerned and we acknowledge that it’s not just the boys who have been involved, but the effects spread wider to the parents and family, and particularly Morgan’s family.
“We are very aware of the effects of social media in a case such as this. We are very aware that the boys would have been identified within their own social groups, if not more widely, immediately.
“The protection that the law attempts to give has not been able to be afforded to these boys to the same extent as the law would probably have liked, but that is the way of social media – it is not something that is easily policed, and unjustified comments made without the full knowledge of the facts of the case get into social media and we understand that they can be very distressing to everyone concerned, and particularly perniciously with social media, these comments do not necessarily go away.”
The defendants were originally arrested on suspicion of murder – all but one of them gave “no comment” answers when interviewed by the police in the hours and weeks after the incident.
Morgan had consumed drugs at a party at another house before coming back to a second home with the boys, and evidence was heard that he consumed more when he got back to the house.
One boy left early the following morning and checked on Morgan, who had slept in the garage while the other boys slept in a bedroom upstairs. When he was checked at around 6 am, Morgan appeared to be sleeping normally.
When the other boys woke up at around 9.15 am he had drifted into unconsciousness – there were conflicting reports as to whether there was foam coming out of his mouth and nose.
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.