Defence lawyers made their final submissions today hoping to earn a reduced sentence for their clients – murderers Nigel Goolding and Joshua Spruce.
Defending 20-year-old Northwich cricketer Goolding, Stephen Meadowcroft claimed his youthfulness was a mitigating feature of the case.
At the time of the incident in July last year, which saw 59-year-old grandad Jock Straiton kicked unconscious by young men returning home after a alcohol-fuelled birthday party at Winnington Rec, Goolding was just 19.
Mr Meadowcroft said that despite Goolding being an adult in the eyes of the law, he said that he had lived a sheltered life. He said: "People don’t suddenly change when they reach 18.
"He left school at 15 and lived all of his life in one home. He lived with his family their, all of whom are charming individuals. He is not the average young man that you get in the dock."
Mr Meadowcroft added that Goolding had received a phone call from one of the group and only returned to the scene of the brutal assault outside Straiton’s home in Sandybank Flats "because he did not want to let a friend down".
Gordon Cole, defending Joshua Spruce, said that there was evidence of him trying to act as a peace keeper and trying to calm down the now-acquitted Paul Blower, also 20, from Wincham.
Mr Cole also raised the question of provocation in that Mr Straiton came out of his flat to confront the rowdy defendants armed with a hammer.
On reflection Judge Roderick Evans told the defendants: "I reject the issue of provocation. There was no provocation here other than your provocation of Mr Straiton."
Goolding and Spruce received 15 years as a minimum life sentence for the murder of Jock Straiton at Chester Crown Court this morning (Friday).