CHESHIRE Chief Constable Peter Fahy has called for more action to tackle the problem of underage drinking.
Mr Fahy was speaking after three teenagers were convicted at Chester Crown Court of punching and kicking to death Warrington father-of-three Garry Newlove in front of his family.
Mr Newlove, 47, a sales manager, was attacked in the street after standing up to the youths over a spate of vandalism outside his suburban home.
The Chief Constable, who was on patrol with officers tackling under-age drinking the night the victim was killed, said more needed to be done to prevent drunk teenagers doing “stupid things”.
He called for age limits on buying alcohol to be raised and a ban on alcohol price promotions.
Speaking on GMTV, the chief constable said he worried he could have done more to prevent the “tragedy”.
He said: “I think after any death police officers agonise ‘was there more that could have been done?’.”
“All sorts of lives have been ruined by this tragedy.”
But Mr Fahy said the teenage boys who killed Mr Newlove were victims of a “strange” British culture that encouraged drinking to excess.
He said that “decent people” can do “stupid things” when they are “so drunk that they’re not thinking rationally”.
“Perfectly reasonable people, as soon as they start drinking, can become aggressive and use violence, and in their groups they’re much more likely to use violence,” he stressed.
“We’ve got to get better at an earlier stage of identifying these young people who’ve got a drinking problem.”
Garry Newlove and his family had tried in vain to get more effective policing in his community.
He died in hospital 36 hours after the attack with the bloody imprint of a trainer on his forehead.
Adam Swellings, 19, Stephen Sorton, 17, and Jordan Cunliffe, 16, were each found guilty of murder. Two other boys, aged 15 and 17, were acquitted.
After the trial ended it emerged that Swellings had been released from custody on bail just hours beforehand, and was also the subject of a restraining order to keep him out of the town.