Long jail terms for killers in judge’s `most horrific’ case – Murder of Jason Swift (16.5.89)

Long jail terms for killers in judge’s `most horrific’ case – Murder of Jason Swift
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Times, The (London, England)-May 16, 1989
Author: David Cross

The four men who killed Jason Swift, aged 14, during a homosexual orgy were yesterday jailed for between 131/2 and 19 years at the Central Criminal Court.

Mr Justice McCullough, who had spent the weekend considering the sentences, said that the case was the “most horrific” he had dealt with. He added that what the men had done had been “deliberate, cruel, painful and terrifying”.

He sentenced Sidney Cooke, aged 62, of Kingsmead Estate, Hackney, to 19 years, Leslie Bailey, aged 35, and Robert Oliver, aged 34, both of Frampton Park Estate, Hackney, to 15 years and Stephen Barrell, aged 28, of Arnold Road, Dagenham, Essex, to 131/2 years. Last Friday, they were found guilty of manslaughter. They will serve their sentences in isolation to protect them from attacks by other prisoners.

Jason, who had run away from home to escape bullying over his effeminacy, was strangled during an attack at a squalid council flat in Hackney in 1985.

His body was found by a farmer and his dog in a copse by a cornfield at Stapleford Tawney, near Ongar, Essex.

The judge said: “When Jason died things were done to him which hurt him so much that he screamed while he was held in position so a group of men could obtain from the experience the sexual pleasure which they as a group were determined to have, regardless of the pain which they inflicted on him.”

The judge said when Jason lost consciousness, none of the men called an ambulance or sought help during the vital moments when his life might have been saved.“To do so would have meant discovery and that meant more to you than his life,” the judge said.

“I find it difficult to imagine a worse case of manslaughter. It’s certainly the most horrific I have dealt with.”

Jason’s father, Mr Sidney Swift, said: “The judge was fair. I wish the sentences had been more.”

Mr Swift, who has since remarried, said he had not seen Jason for two years before he died but described him as “a good lad, a kind, loving boy”.

Detective Chief Inspector Derek Cass, of Essex police, said that Jason was an innocent boy who had been corrupted into prostitution.“He looked for love and care.”

He urged children in a similar position to contact Childline or other similar organizations.

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