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Homophobic murderer has sentence slashed

David Meehan, pictured, has jail term cut from 16 to 14 years on appeal for murder of council worker Jim Kerr in Perth.

Homophobic murderer has sentence slashed

A murderer who kicked a gay council worker to death in a homophobic gang attack has had the punishment part of his sentence reduced on appeal.

David Meehan, pictured above, was originally ordered to serve 16 years behind bars for the sickening murder of homosexual council worker Jim Kerr, 51, in a public park.

On Thursday, the Appeal Court decided to reduce the period to 14 years after deciding the 21-year-old had been "led-on" by 15-year-old friend Alexander Kindred, who is now 16.

Lady Paton and Lord Clarke decided the sentence should be cut by two years despite the fact Meehan went to the park to inflict violence and later boasted about it at a party.

In a judgment issued yesterday at the High Court, Lady Paton said: "This was a particularly unjustified, vicious and callous attack upon someone unknown to the appellant, who had done him no harm.

"As the appellant explained to the police, he went looking for Mr Kerr with the avowed intent to do him harm. From the judge's report, it is clear that the appellant inflicted a significant number of forceful punches and kicks to the victim's head.

"Mr Kerr was then left lying on the ground with obvious head injuries, bleeding heavily and making a snoring noise. The three went off to a party, where they boasted of their exploit. Later, the three again walked past the victim lying in the same position.

"They made no effort to call for help for him. The sentencing judge was well entitled to take a grave view of the offence when assessing the appropriate punishment part for the purposes of retribution and deterrence.

"However in making that assessment, which he did with great care, it appears to us that insufficient weight was given to the appellant's youth, his lack of previous convictions (having only one, at summary level), the fact that no weapon was used, the positive features outlined in the social enquiry report, the remorse expressed by the appellant, and the fact that the appellant appears to have been "led on" to a considerable extent by his younger co-accused Kindred.

"In all the circumstances we have reached the view that the factors outlined above should have been given greater weight. Accordingly we are persuaded that the starting point of 18 years is excessive in this particular case.

"In our view, the proper starting point was 16 years. Allowing the same number of years in respect of the discount for the plea (i.e. 2 years) we shall quash the sentence imposed only insofar as relating to the punishment part, and substitute therefor a punishment part of 14 years."

The case caused outrage earlier this year when it emerged that third accused, Martin Soutar, 23, was being allowed out of jail for home visits just 15 months after being locked up.

Soutar was jailed for six years in November 2007 after he and two other youths carried out the savage attack on Mr Kerr in the South Inch park in Perth in April that year.

Kindred landed the first blow on Mr Kerr and then called on Meehan and Souter, who came to the park to subject their victim to a brutal and sustained assault.

The trio, who admitted there was a gay-bashing element to their attack, were heard bragging about it at a party just minutes later.

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