'Orgy of violence' schoolboys jailed

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The Independent Online
Three sixth formers were jailed yesterday after attacking two men during a drunken orgy of violence.

Cardiff Crown Court was told that Andrew Groom, David Vodden and David Willey, all 19, had brought shame on their families.

Instead of starting university they were locked up in a young offenders' institution after Judge John Curran told how they "exulted" in a rampage when they savagely attacked a church caretaker and a man who came to his rescue.

Sentencing them, he said: "There cannot be a separate law for those with intelligence."

Groom, Vodden and Willey were all pupils at Cardiff High School - rated as the best in Wales - when they broke from their A-level studies and went on a binge drinking beer and cider near their homes in Cyncoed, a middle class suburb of Cardiff.

As they walked home, disabled caretaker Eric Cobourne and Ian Birtle, a book keeper, took the full brunt of their brutality, the court was told.

Mr Cobourne, 50, was kicked in the face outside his church while Mr Birtle, 33, was knocked almost conscious as he tried to halt the violence. Mr Cobourne died two weeks later but his death was found to be from natural causes.

David Aubrey, for the prosecution, said: "They rampaged around the streets of this normally quiet suburb, behaving like three drunken hooligans."

In a trail of damage they wrecked a garden wall and gate. A Mercedes car was also vandalised. "Cobourne was verbally abused and then Groom threw a bottle at his head, leaving him with a wound that needed several stitches."

Mr Cobourne was then kicked in the head by Vodden. Mr Aubrey said: "It's claimed Vodden then turned to friends and boasted 'Did you see that - his nose just exploded'."

Asked why they had picked on Mr Cobourne, Vodden said: "He was obviously not a Cyncoed person, he was different."

Mr Birtle was attacked and chased down the road before being kicked and punched. Mr Aubrey said: "Groom told him 'Say you are sorry'."

The trio admitted violent disorder and causing actual bodily harm. They were convicted of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm. Groom and Vodden were also found guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

All three youths were said to be ashamed of their actions.Groom and Vodden were sent to a young offenders' centre for two years; Willey was ordered to be detained for 18 months.

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