Three teenagers convicted of murdering a homeless man following dare

Tuesday 26 February 2013 20.42
The trial judge ordered psychiatric and psychological assessments of the boys
The trial judge ordered psychiatric and psychological assessments of the boys

Three boys who beat a homeless man to death in England following a dare have been convicted of murder.

The teenagers, two 14-year-olds and a 17-year-old, who cannot be named because of their ages, attacked Kevin Bennett, 53, as he slept rough outside a supermarket in Liverpool.

During their trial at Liverpool Crown Court, the jury was told the 17-year-old had goaded one of the 14-year-olds by saying: "I bet you haven't got it in you to do him in."

The court heard the younger boy later told his friend: "I started kicking him, I booted him and now he's dead."

The second 14-year-old stood look-out as the attack took place, the prosecution said.

Mr Bennett died in hospital six days after the beating in the early hours of 17 August last year.

The three boys had denied murder.

They were convicted by a unanimous jury of seven women and five men following a four-week trial and 13 hours of deliberations.

In the public gallery, members of Mr Bennett's family sobbed.

The boys shared the dock with Linda Doran, 42, of Teulon Close, Liverpool, who was convicted of perverting the course of public justice by providing false alibis for two defendants.

All four were remanded in custody for sentencing in the week commencing 15 April.

The trial judge, Recorder Clement Goldstone QC, ordered psychiatric and psychological assessments of the boys to be carried out by an expert adolescent psychiatrist.

During the attack, Mr Bennett, described as "vulnerable" by the prosecution, suffered a fractured eye socket, a collapsed lung and a broken ribcage, which detached from his chest.

He died in hospital from blood poisoning after an infection set in, causing his organs to fail, a post mortem examination found.

The three boys were responsible for a "group attack" prosecutor Alan Conrad QC told the jury.

Mr Conrad said: "Mr Bennett had done nothing to deserve such violence.

"Those who attacked him were much younger and more agile than he was - very young indeed."

The court was told how Mr Bennett, described as a "heavy drinker", had been in the pub from 11am on 16 August, and had consumed between ten and 12 cans of lager.

He left just after midnight with a white carrier bag laden with more cans of beer and settled down for the night behind an Iceland shop on nearby County Road, Walton.

It was there he was discovered beaten by Iceland staff arriving for work at 7am the next day.

Mr Conrad told the jury that Mr Bennett suffered injuries "consistent with blows from a shod foot or forceful punches".

His blood was found smeared on air conditioning units at the back of the supermarket, alongside his empty wallet and a Bob Dylan cassette.