Tom Hilton Jay Slater, Open-Minded With Machete To Avoid Incarceration

In a shocking incident that took place in August 2021 near the Old Paper Mill in Hermitage Street, Rishton, eight teenagers brutally attacked 17-year-old Tom Hilton with a machete, axe, and golf club. The assault left Hilton with a severe head injury that exposed his skull, as well as wounds to his shoulders and legs. Despite the gravity of the attack, the teenagers received community sentences rather than custodial terms.

Court Proceedings

The trial at Preston Crown Court revealed that Hilton had gone to the mill, a popular meeting spot for local teens, looking for a teenage girl when he was chased by a group of boys. Hilton described his assailants as “like a pack of gorillas.” The group of eight, surrounded Hilton and attacked him with weapons and fists, encouraged by each other. Judge Philip Parry highlighted the group’s collective responsibility for the violence.

Judge’s Remarks

Throughout the trial, the teenagers displayed disrespectful behavior, laughing and joking in court. Judge Parry expressed his disapproval, stating, “I have to have at the forefront of my mind the fact that most of you were children when you committed these offences. I make it very, very clear that all eight of you have behaved disgracefully.” He condemned their involvement in violent disorder, witness intimidation, drug supply, and street robbery, urging them to feel ashamed of their actions.

Community Sentences

Despite the severity of the attack, Judge Parry opted for a rehabilitative approach, sentencing the teenagers for violent disorder and other offences, including witness intimidation, attempted robbery, and conspiracy to supply class A drugs. He noted that if they had been convicted of the more serious charge of section 18 wounding, they would have faced youth custody. Instead, the sentences were as follows:

  • Danny Yakub, 18, of Blackburn Road, Great Harwood: 18-month community order with 25 days of rehabilitation activities and 180 hours of unpaid work.
  • Connor Armstrong, 19, of Christ Church Street, Accrington: Two-year community order with 35 days of rehabilitation activities and 200 hours of unpaid work.
  • James Meagre, 18, of Tinker Brook Close, Oswaldtwistle: Two-year community order with 25 days of rehabilitation activities and 200 hours of unpaid work.
  • Davis Hargreaves, 18, of Plantation Road, Accrington: Two-year community order with 35 days of rehabilitation activity requirements and 200 hours of unpaid work.
  • Kane Taylor, 20, of Ripon Road, Accrington: 18-month community order with 25 days of rehabilitation activities and 150 hours of unpaid work.
  • Jay Slater, 18, of Fountains Way, Accrington: 18-month community order with 25 days of rehabilitation activities and 150 hours of unpaid work.
  • A 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons: 18-month youth referral order with 18 months supervision, 91 activity days, a four-month curfew, and an intervention plan.
  • A 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons: 18-month youth referral order with 18 months supervision, 91 activity days, a three-month curfew, and an intervention plan.

Judge’s Warning

Judge Parry addressed the teenagers, stating, “Today is going to be a life-changing or life-defining event for you all. You all have a chance to go into a lawful and law-abiding direction.” He emphasized the relief felt by their families and supporters in the public gallery, who had expected custodial sentences. He urged the young offenders to grow up and take this opportunity to reform their lives.

Future Implications

The sentences handed down by Judge Parry reflect a belief in the potential for rehabilitation and a hope that these young individuals will turn away from a life of crime. However, the leniency of the sentences has sparked debate about the appropriateness of community orders for such a violent crime. The attack on Hilton underscores the need for effective measures to address youth violence and ensure justice for victims.

Call for Change

The case highlights the importance of addressing the underlying issues that lead to such violent behavior among teenagers. Community support, effective rehabilitation programs, and stringent law enforcement are crucial in preventing similar incidents in the future. The sentences handed to these eight teenagers serve as a reminder of the challenges within the juvenile justice system and the need for continuous evaluation and improvement to ensure both justice and rehabilitation.

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