JUDGE Roderick Evans slammed bystanders who did nothing as Jock Straiton was battered senseless – except for one who won his praise.
His drunken assailants had been to a 40th birthday party at Winnington Rec – and were loud and rowdy on their way home.
Mr Straiton had asked them to pipe down but became the victim of verbal abuse and threats before being punched and kicked unconscious.
Judge Evans implied the bystanders could have intervened.
He said: “There were members of the older generation on the road and they were aware of what was happening.”
He also criticised Winnington Rec for serving alcohol to those at the party who were under-age – and those present at the celebration who stood by and let the defendants drink to such excess.
The judge singled out witness Kevin Douglas and said he was satisfied he was present at the time the verbal abuse started and could have done something to stop the attack.
Judge Evans told the defendants if Mr Douglas had stepped in then ‘Mr Straiton would not be dead and you would not be facing life sentences’.
The judge also questioned the integrity of some of the witnesses.
“They heard and saw nothing when they clearly must have,” he said. “The consequence of this matter will live in this small community for a long time. These people will have a long time to consider the evidence they have given.”
A neighbour who confronted Jock Straiton’s attackers said his principle concern was not for his own safety but for his friend.
Peter Wallace was praised by the trial judge for his bravery. He was the only member of the public who went to the grandad’s aid.
Mr Wallace said: “I went out to try and stop the brutal attack on my neighbour Jock and did what I hope someone would do for me if I ever found myself in that situation.
“I didn’t have time to think about what I was going to do – it was just adrenaline that took me out. After going out I felt scared for my own safety, but my main concern was to help Jock.”