THE five young people who brutally killed vulnerable Rugby woman Gemma Hayter are to be sentenced at the foremost criminal court in the land – the Old Bailey.
Chantelle Booth, her partner Daniel Newstead and their friend Joe Boyer were all found guilty of Gemma’s murder at the end of an eight-week trial at Warwick Crown Court last month.
Boyer’s partner Jessica Lynas and a fifth defendant, Duncan Edwards, were both cleared of murdering Gemma in August last year but convicted of an alternate offence of manslaughter.
In addition Booth, 22, Newstead, 20, Boyer, 18, Lynas, 19, all of Old Works Court, Little Pennington Street, Rugby, and Edwards, 19, of Ashwood Court, Rounds Garden, were found guilty of assaulting Gemma a few hours earlier.
After the jury had returned its verdicts, Lady Justice Anne Rafferty DBE said: “It would be totally inappropriate to sentence immediately. They are young, and I want to make absolutely sure I am equipped with all the material available.”
Remanding the five in custody, Lady Justice Rafferty told them: “All of you can expect a significant loss of liberty. Those of you convicted of murder will be losing your liberty for life.”
The judge had begun the trial in early June as Mrs Justice Rafferty, but at the beginning of July she was appointed a Justice of the Court of Appeal - and became Lady Justice Rafferty.
For that reason the sentencing hearing will take place at the Old Bailey, where it is due to be heard on September 12.
Booth, supposedly Gemma’s best friend, and the other four had been charged after Gemma’s battered and naked body was found on a disused railway line off Hillmorton Road on August 9.
A pathologist who examined her described a total of 55 external injuries, including 17 to her face and neck which included widespread and extensive bruising, grazing and cuts.
She also had a badly broken nose and stab wounds to her upper back near her shoulder blade, and her death was caused by ‘occlusion of the internal airway by aspirated blood following severe facial trauma.’
Edwards was blamed for the murder, and the attack in the flat, by the other four defendants.
They claimed he had put a bin bag over Gemma’s head and, after she had pulled it off, had knocked her to the ground, pulled her clothes off, repeatedly punched and kicked her, stabbed her, and finally stamped on her face.
But Edwards said Newstead and Booth had carried out the attack in the flat, and that Newstead had been responsible for the fatal attack on the old railway track.
He accepted that after the attack he did set fire to Gemma’s clothes, singeing his hair as he did so, but said Newstead had ordered him to do so.
The jury also heard from witness Laura Rowley that she had gone up to the flat where Booth had admitted headbutting Gemma and that Lynas had later told her Booth had ‘stamped all over her face’ on the railway line.