'Clockwork Orange' gang found guilty of killing bar manager

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The Independent Online

A gang of youths was yesterday found guilty of killing a bar manager during a "happy slapping" spree of random violence which they filmed on a mobile phone.

A teenage girl and three youths killed David Morley, 38, who had survived the Soho nail bomb blast of April 1999. He was savagely beaten to death by the Clockwork Orange-style thugs, the Old Bailey heard.

Darren Case, 18, Reece Sargeant, 21, a 15-year-old girl and a 17-year-old - all from Kennington, south London - were cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter. They were also convicted of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm. The defendants denied murdering Mr Morley, from Chiswick, west London. The four will be sentenced on January 23, next year.

Police said the gang had been caught on CCTV using mobile phones to video the attack, although these images have never been retrieved. Minutes before the assault, the girl, then aged 14, had pointed her mobile at Mr Morley and told him they were doing a documentary on "happy slapping" and told him to "pose for the camera".

The court heard how the girl, now 15, then kicked Mr Morley's head like a football as he lay on the ground.

A 17-year-old gang member said afterwards: "It was because of her they did what they did because she wanted to film it on the video phone - people being beaten up." The youth added: "She wanted to distribute the filming on the net".

Jurors had earlier heard how the gang had set upon eight people in five separate attacks that night, using the phrase "You know what time it is" to begin the attacks.

After Mr Morley's death on the South Bank in London, a popular tourist spot near the River Thames, the gang continued the hour-long frenzy on 30 October last year.

Mr Morley was punched and stamped to death. The pathologist's report said his injuries were similar to those of someone who had fallen from a great height.

His father, Jeff Morley, said after the verdict: "The rest of society will be safer while these dangerous misfits are kept off the street."

Nick Scola, senior investigating officer, said: "The attacks were carried out so they could be filmed on mobile phones and later played for the attackers' pleasure - without thought or regard for the injuries and consequences for their victims."

The court heard how the gang's tactics mirrored those of teenagers in Anthony Burgess's novelClockwork Orange who also used codewords to signal violence.

The gay human rights group, Outrage! expressed disappointment that a murder conviction was not secured. "Many people in the gay community will be dismayed by these verdicts," said Peter Tatchell from OutRage!