THE gang who killed vulnerable Gemma Hayter has been described as ‘a pack of wild animals’ by her mother, who has spoken of the horror surrounding her daughter’s death.
As Chantelle Booth, Daniel Newstead and Joe Boyer were sentenced to life in prison on Monday afternoon at the Old Bailey in London for murder, and Duncan Edwards and Jessica Lynas given 15 and 13 years in jail respectively for manslaughter, Gemma Hayter’s mother Susan Prince struggled to understand how any of this could have ever happened to her daughter.
In a family impact statement provided to the court by Mrs Prince as part of the harrowing trial which lasted eight weeks, she said: “To have your child killed by one person is horrific, but five people? And they were all so young. I couldn’t understand how it could have happened.
“I still do not understand how young people such as these could do such a horrific thing and they have shown no remorse whatsoever.
“They acted like a pack of animals and act like a pack of animals still and need to be taken out of society as their behaviour is not acceptable by any standards.”
On August 8 last year in Booth and Newstead’s flat in Old Works Court, Little Pennington Street, Gemma - who had learning difficulties - was made to drink a can of urine, was hit with a mop, had her head banged against a door, was locked in a toilet and had her nose broken.
Later that night the gang, who Gemma looked to as her friends, led her to a disused railway line in Hillmorton where she was beaten, stabbed, suffocated and stripped. Her body was found the next morning.
Mrs Prince said: “I attended every day of the trial. I knew it was never going to be easy, but found that even though the details of my daughter’s death were horrific, it actually helped me to come to terms with how she died.”
Mrs Prince spoke of her disbelief at the disrespect shown to the court during the trial at Warwickshire Justice Centre in Leamington by Booth, Newstead, Boyer and Lynas who are couples.
She said: ”The whole time they passed notes to each other, laughed, touched each other, took no notice whatsoever of what was happening in front of them in the court. It was absolutely unbelievable. I honestly think that they just had no idea that what they had done to my daughter was wrong.
“At some time in their short lives they must have attended school and must have had the support of their families, or some responsible adult, so it is logical that they must know the difference between right and wrong.”
Mrs Prince said her heart went out to their families when they were first charged and was nervous about seeing them in court. However only Newstead, and occasionally Edwards, were supported by their families.
“The others had no support at all and that frightened me to death. What sort of society do we live in that they could be abandoned by their families at a time like that?”
Initially all on trial for murder, the two sets of couples tried to pin all the blame on Edwards claiming that he was the ring leader and they were frightened of him. However CCTV showed the gang the next day happy and content in each others company as they went shopping and drinking while police launched a murder investigation after Gemma’s body was found with more than 50 injuries.
At the end of the trial Booth, Newstead and Boyer were found guilty of murder, while Edwards and Lynas were convicted of manslaughter. All were found guilty of actual bodily harm.
Booth will have to serve a minimum of 21 years, Newstead a minimum of 20 years and Boyer cannot apply for parole for at least 16 years. Edwards got a 15 year sentence and Lynas 13 years.
Mrs Prince, who was ‘satisfied’ with the sentences, added: “I loved Gemma very much and miss her everyday. But I do have a lot of very good memories which will help to keep Gemma alive in our hearts. I do not hate the five, I am not sure what I feel towards them. Pity I think. Such sad, wasted young lives.”