August 15, 2008
Drunk Teen Struck Fatal Blow
By Louise Vennells
A teenager who struck a single drunken blow which killed a popular gardener has received a three-year sentence.
Daniel Cain was just 16 when he hit 36-year-old Timothy Chilcott in an unprovoked attack in Minehead, West Somerset.
Cain's friend, Sean Wylds, who was 19 at the time of the fatal assault, was yesterday also given a three-year sentence for his role in encouraging the youngster, and for landing the first blow in the tragic incident on January 19.
The pair were among a group of youths who drunkenly decided to throw Argos catalogues at a stranger after a night out. One of them hit Mr Chilcott in the face, and he remonstrated with the youths before Wylds lashed out. Cain, from Porlock, but now living with relatives in London, immediately struck the fatal blow which knocked his victim to the ground and split his head open.
Passing sentence at Exeter Crown Court yesterday, Judge Graham Cottle lifted reporting restrictions on Cain, who previously could not be identified because of his young age. Despite objections from his defence counsel, who warned of the hardship his identification would cause to his young siblings, he can now be named in the public interest, and as a deterrent to others.
The judge, who earlier this week told the WMN that he had adopted a near "zero tolerance" approach to alcohol-related violence, said: "This was yet another act of senseless and unprovoked violence carried out by young men affected by drink.
"A man walking home alone, minding his own businesses and posing no conceivable threat to anybody is punched to the ground and dies from the injuries that he receives in the fall.
"The consequence is that a truly decent, hard-working man - loved by his family and respected by the community in which he lived - died on the streets of Minehead.
"I don't doubt that the social problems highlighted by this case need to be addressed at different levels. For their part, all the courts can do is to demonstrate in the sentence passed that the public has had enough - enough of being frightened away from town and city centres by the prospect of witnessing an incident of this sort, or worse still, being innocently caught up in it."
Judge Cottle said an element of deterrent was included in the sentence, which will see Cain serve his three-year sentence probably in a young offenders' unit. Wylds, of Alcombe, Minehead, will go to prison. Both will have the 121 days they have already served while awaiting sentence deducted.
The court heard that Wylds had written a letter to the Chilcotts expressing his deep remorse.
He had a history of reacting violently to situations, but Cain's actions were "utterly out of character".
Cain's defence counsel, Richard Smith QC, told the court the question would always linger over "why a very young man with a model background finds himself delivering a fatal single blow to a man who had done nothing wrong whatsoever."
He said family and friends had described him as hard-working and "exemplary", and found it "inexplicable" that he could behave so violently. "This was an otherwise delightful young man who has robbed himself of that title by the way he conducted himself for about two minutes on the night in question."
The defence counsellors said both youths would have the burden of knowing how much "heartache and upset" they had caused both their own relatives and the victim's family for the rest of their lives.
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