Two youths arrested after doorstep killing of teenager

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The Independent Online
WILL BENNETT.

A man and a teenage boy were arrested yesterday by police hunting a gang who kicked and beat a teenager to death outside his home as he tried to stop them taunting his father.

Anthony Erskine, 19, a quiet and slightly built shop assistant, was set upon in Stratford- upon-Avon, Warwickshire, on Wednesday evening and suffered appalling facial injuries.

The teenager, who had intervened peaceably to stop the gang hurling insults at his father, Harry, died almost immediately under a hail of blows. His family have been repeatedly persecuted by youths who set fire to their hedge and threw paint over their car.

Yesterday afternoon, police wielding sledgehammers smashed their way into a house only 30 yards from the Erskines' home and arrested two males, one aged 20 and the other 15.A third man, aged 17, who was arrested shortly after the attack, was released on police bail.

The death of Anthony, who was well liked and was regarded as a model employee at Debenhams department store in Stratford-upon-Avon, where he was a stockroom assistant, left his family stunned and disbelieving.

Ian Erskine, his twin brother, who has vowed never to celebrate their birthday again, said: "My family and I were devastated at the sudden and unnecessary death of my brother Anthony which has completely destroyed us.

"Anthony and I were very close. He was a quiet and gentle brother, loved by all his family and friends and all who knew him.

"The police's job is only really just beginning so I beg anyone who saw what happened or who knows anything or has been told anything that might assist the police to come forward as soon as possible."

Then in tears he added: "This is not a petty murder or a petty crime. My brother was murdered and no-one deserves any loyalty after that."

Shortly afterwards Ian screamed and lunged at the mother of one of the suspects when he met her by chance in Stratford-upon-Avon police station. He was restrained and police officers led the shocked and crying woman into another room.

Gary Erskine, 22, Anthony's other brother, said: "All he was doing was trying to help his dad. Within 60 seconds of them kicking him and punching him, he was lying on the floor.

"The argument was about nothing at all. They were just looking for a bit of fun, they go out and cause trouble. They were just pushing him around and swearing at him for a laugh.

"Anthony just went outside to calm them down. He never hurt anybody. He had been picked on before and he always took the peaceful option, always tried to calm it down."

Gaynor Taylor, a neighbour, ran to try to help when she heard about the attack. She said: "There was no pulse and his face was a mask of blood. It was very dark and his face had been so badly kicked in there was no way I could have given mouth to mouth."

Nick Bond, another neighbour, said: "The family would never argue back even though they were victimised.

"They would just try to get on with things as best they could. Their hedge was even set on fire and paint was thrown on their car."

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