Twin found hanged one year after his brother's murderers were jailed

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The Independent Online
The twin brother of a teenager kicked to death while defending his father from bullies has been found hanged. Louise Jury explains that Ian Erskine, who left a suicide note, never recovered from his brother's brutal killing.

The body of Ian Erskine was found hanged a mile from his home almost exactly a year after two youths were jailed for the murder of his brother, Anthony.

Warwickshire police said Mr Erskine, 21, was found in woods near Stratford- upon-Avon, Warwickshire, on Saturday morning by a couple walking their dog. A police search was already underway after his family reported him missing on Friday night.

Speaking at the family's home on the Clopton Estate in Stratford yesterday, an aunt said he had never got over the murder.

Anthony was punched and kicked to death in January last year when he attempted to protect his father against thugs who had been intimidating the family for years. The aunt, who did not want to be named, said: "They were twins and they were close ... what more is there to say?

"Ian never really got over his brother's death and his mother has now lost two sons. The family are very upset, as you might expect, and they just want to be left alone to grieve."

Mr Erskine's parents, Harry and Dorothy, called the police shortly before 11pm on Friday when they realised he was missing. Officers immediately launched a fruitless search of the cemetery where Anthony is buried and of nearly woods.

His disappearance came a year and six days after Mark Hemmens, then 20, and Damian Collins, 16, were convicted of Anthony's murder by a majority verdict.

A judge at Birmingham Crown Court sentenced Hemmens to life imprisonment and ordered Collins to be detained indefinitely.

The youths had continued to punch and kick Anthony in the front garden of his home even after the 19-year-old had lost consciousness. He drowned in his own blood.

Harry Erskine told the jury he could not believe what he was watching and found himself frozen to the spot during the attack.

Speaking at the end of the trial, Mrs Erskine, now 48, had spoken of her fears for the future. "This is not the end but another chapter in a terrible nightmare," she said.

"We cannot look forward to the future with any confidence. There have been threats since my son died. The harassment has not stopped."

She said Ian had been told: "You will be dead. Your face will look like your brother's."

Mr and Mrs Erskine, who have another son and a daughter, said Hemmens had conducted a decade-long campaign of abuse and intimidation which had made their lives a misery.

A Warwickshire Police spokesman said yesterday that the force was satisfied there were no suspicious circumstances to Ian Erskine's death. He added that a suicide note has been passed to the coroner.

"Police officers are in contact with the family and supporting them as much as they can, but obviously this is a tragic incident," the spokesman said.

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