Youths detained for killing traveller, 15

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The Independent Online

Action was demanded against one of Britain's most persistent forms of bigotry yesterday as two 16-year-olds were sent to young offenders' institutions for 54 months for the manslaughter of a young traveller.

Lewis McVeigh and Ricky Kearney kicked and stamped on 15-year-old Johnny Delaney, one of them saying he deserved it because "he was only a fucking Gypsy", Chester Crown Court was told. The boy died of brain injuries.

Mr Justice Richards said he could not increase the sentence for racial aggravation because he was unsure who had made the racist gibe. The attack, he said, was "a spontaneous flare of violence between two groups of youths".

But a statement from the Cheshire Chief Constable, Peter Fahy, said the incident was aggravated by "underlying tensions" between travellers and locals. The Commission for Racial Equality has demanded action.

Abuse of Britain's 300,000 Gypsies is "one of the last kinds of discrimination which is still acceptable", a spokesperson for Save the Children Fund said. The charity said the children are frequently called "mink" and "tink" or "dirty gypo". Ofsted reports in 1996, 1999 and 2003 all record traveller children being subjected to racist abuse.

The Irish Traveller Movement said: "This tragic death has the same symbolic importance for travellers as the Stephen Lawrence case has for the black community."