SENTENCING the gang of five young Rugby people who brutally killed Gemma Hayter, Lady Justice Anne Rafferty DBE said at the Old Bailey:
“It is difficult to find the words to express how vile your behaviour was in August 2010.
ACTUAL BODILY HARM
“This offence began the chronicle of heartlessness which ended in Gemma Hayter’s death.
The motive may have been her mischief-making of the previous night, telling bar staff that Booth was under age and ruining a night out drinking for all of you, or her inability to pay back more of the debt she owed Booth, or both or neither.
Whatever prompted it, trapped in Old Works Court she suffered a thorough beating, so violent that the pathologist remarked on the severity of the breaking of her nose.
She was hit with a mop or broom. She was locked into a lavatory. She called out again and again for her mobile telephone, which was put down another lavatory to protect you by ensuring she could not get help.
One further indignity will live in the memory of those who listened to your trial. Edwards and Boyer, you urinated into a can of lager and made her drink it.
I struggle to see how much lower you could have sunk.”
GEMMA HYATER’S DEATH
“Once the beating had ended, you began to think about protecting yourselves. She had to be taken out of the flat and cleaned up so that attention would not be drawn to her en route. She tagged along, battered, in pain, and unsuspecting, like a faithful loving dog, as you walked her to her death.
Viewing the CCTV footage of that last journey became insupportable, and after a while I for one could not watch it.
Once in seclusion you set about beating her again, now adding kicks, a cut with a knife and a plastic bag over her head,
When she screamed, struggled and shed it, you replaced it. She choked to death on her own blood because of what, there and in the flat, you had done to her.
One final indignity was to come: you stripped her naked and left her body where you had dragged it. Gemma Hayter died alone.
The same day, during daylight hours, once again, you all worked to protect yourselves.
When too many police for comfort were out and about you all took yourselves out of the area.
Gemma Hayter, you knew, was dead - and you had all been there when her fateful injuries were inflicted.
Some of you, as you lied your way through your accounts, claimed that in the flat and on the railway line you were powerless to help her, a lie pathetic even by your standards.
Not one of you sent an ambulance her way, when it would have been the simplest thing. Mobile telephones were your third lung. Who had whose at what juncture is neither not there. You hunted in a pack.
At your trial four of you lied to the jury. Booth, Newstead and Boyer - you all continued your efforts to see Edwards take all the blame. The jury saw through that too. He had none of you in thrall nor did you walk in fear of him - let us not forget that telling CCTV footage of you after Gemma’s death, when you went drinking and shopping in Coventry, relaxed and content in each others’ company.
The assault and the killing were team efforts. Who inflicted which blows, who provided a knife, who carried plastic bags, who stripped her naked etc, are pieces in the jigsaw whose picture you all painted.
You were all in the same confined space when she was first beaten, you all went on a half-hour walk and then down a secluded path to a disused railway line as she neared her death. All of you were there when the fatal injuries were inflicted, all part of a team.
Mrs Prince, Gemma’s mother, tells the court that she fought for nearly half her life to get Gemma looked after when she reached adulthood. Mrs Prince feels half her life has been almost wasted by what you have done.”
“What a nasty piece of work you are. Twenty-two, with previous convictions for violence, a feckless mother of two unfortunate children, who mercifully, will not be burdened with you for their upbringing.
Over the years you treated Gemma Hayter like a toy to be picked up and put down, dependent, I suspect, on whether there was a gap in your miserable life which she could fill. You have no conscience.
You cared not a jot for anyone but yourself. You told the author of the pre-sentence report (PSR) that Gemma was your best friend.
Odd, if that were so, that you did not lift a finger to help her, but, when she lay dead or dying, naked and alone - and you knew that - you lied and lied to Matthew Cross, who was trying to find her, and indulged in repellent flirtation with Edwards.
The author of the PSR writes: “Booth’s motivation was revenge and a dislike of being made to look like a fool. Her past violence has been linked to others making comments which she resented. Previous actions always being in the company of others demonstrated her dominance within the group dynamic. Booth associated with those whom she can control and bully, which would appear to be the case with Miss Hayter. Her inability to acknowledge the harm being caused to Miss Hayter and the need for police intervention is unacceptable and incomprehensible.”
Lady Justice Rafferty continued: “That in large part sums you up. You are a scheming, manipulative ruthless woman who loses her temper when things do not go her way.”
“You have previous convictions for violence and with Booth have produced a child whom the state will now have to support. Even on your own lying account, you did nothing to help Gemma, though you were more than strong enough to intervene. You invited Laura Rowley up to your flat to see what Gemma had endured, and not in a spirit of remorse.
You at least wanted to tell an adult what had happened, and you showed the police the route. Thereafter you settled into a series of lies, which, albeit with variations, you continued for the jury.”
“In the flat you not only joined in the beating but in the degrading urination episode.
The jury found that you did not have the intention to really seriously harm Gemma on the railway line. You were never in the lead during the walk.
You were not local. However even on your own account a girl lay naked dead or dying alone on a secluded path but you flirted with Booth as though nothing had happened. The author of your pre-sentence report writes that you have a history of thrill-seeking behaviour to gain status and wonders if you joined in the taunting of Gemma to impress Booth. I suspect she is right. There was one brief glimmer of hope during your evidence, when your family, unable to cope, left the public gallery and you broke down. For a short time you behaved adequately in the witness box before reverting to type as aggressive and stupid in fairly even proportion.
There may, deeply hidden, be feeling left inside you.
You have no previous convictions for violence.”
“Your attempts to hide behind being affected by cannabis and, in the flat, being so devoted to your activities with Lynas that you were unaware of what was going on were seen for the lies they were. You urinated into a lager can and obliged Gemma Hayter to drink from it. You were a willing walker to the railway line, and in the lead. Like Newstead you did nothing to help Gemma, though you were more than strong enough to intervene.
You have to be dealt with for another ABH, shortly before these events. The most straightforward way of dealing with it is to allow it to feature in an elevation of the minimum term.”
“Like Booth, you have a child who will be protected from you, as the state picks up the pieces of your fecklessness. You behaved arrogantly through most of your trial and the only reason you will not be tried for contempt, given your foul-mouthed abuse of a member of the jury, is that you will shortly lose your liberty for so long that it is not necessary. It does not form part of your sentence. You claimed that you were in fear of Edwards such that you dared not intervene to help Gemma. The lie is given to that by your willing association with him after the events, leaving aside how simple it would have been for you to use a mobile anonymously to get her help. Instead, you chattered away via text, feeling sorry for yourself and helping Booth to understand how much Edwards fancied her.
You were heartless, like the other four. That said, you were probably the least involved and there is some evidence that you protested on Gemma’s behalf.”
“I saw with great sadness that in the eight weeks you stood your trial that with the exception of Newstead none of you were supported by your parents save you, Edwards, briefly. I accept that what upbringing you have had has let you down.
The court is indebted to Mr Millington QC and to Mr Fisher QC, who each found the words to describe you five - base and desensitised.
None of you worked, none of you put anything into society, all of you felt entitled to drain the community of what you could.
I saw during your trial and I see it echoed in your pre-sentence reports that none of you is ever to blame, it is always the fault of someone else and life has not been fair. For all five of you, it is always all about you. It soon will be, but not in the way you had planned it.
For murder Booth was sentenced to life in prison and must serve a minimum of 21 years.
For murder Newstead was sentenced to life in prison and must serve a minimum of 20 years.
For murder Boyer was sentenced to life in prison and must serve a minimum of 16 years.
For manslaughter Edwards was sentenced to 15 years.
For manslaughter Lynas was sentenced to 13 years.
For the full coverage from the sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey see the Rugby Advertiser.