BLAINE HAMMOND MURDER: Killers Anthony Keating and Louis Whelan jailed for life
Two murderers who subjected their victim to a "savage" attack before he was dragged down the street and dumped in an old utility box to die after a row over £20 have been jailed for life.
Blaine Hammond was found with multiple, severe head injuries in a green container, which was formerly used for telecommunications equipment, down a quiet cut near some allotments at Saltburn Road, Sunderland.
Newcastle Crown Court heard doctors and paramedics attended the scene but nothing could be done to save his life.
The 22-year-old had suffered around 13 blows to his head and had devastating injuries, including abrasions and fractures, which were inflicted by AnthonyKeating and Louis Whelan, on December 2.
Mr Hammond had initially been attacked inside Whelan's home and ended up outside in the garden then he was dragged feet first along the street to thebox, while he was still alive and left to die in the cold.
In Facebook messages sent after the violence, Whelan boasted: "He took my £20, I've smashed him all over, he's on death's door like."
Both killers have today been jailed for life and must each serve a minimum of 14 years before they can apply for parole.
Mr Justice Stephen Morris said Mr Hammond was subjected to a "prolonged and persistent beating" and added: "The trigger for the beating was the beliefBlaine Hammond had stolen a £20 note belonging to Louis Whelan from the mantelpiece in the lounge."
The judge said it was "callous" to leave Mr Hammond in the utility box in such an injured and vulnerable state and told the pair: "This was a persistent anddrug induced attack by the two of you, leading to the senseless death of a young man with his whole life ahead of him and which has caused enduring misery to others."
In a heartbreaking impact statement, Mr Hammond's mum Leigh Gray, who had gone looking for him when he failed to return home as expected, said he was a much loved son, brother, uncle, nephew, grandson, cousin and friend.
Ms Gray added that her son was "kind and caring" and added: "I will never get over the loss of my beautiful son or the horrendous circumstances of his murder.
"Those responsible for Blaine's death have not only taken his life but have destroyed the lives of all who loved him.
"We all feel live we are living our own life sentence.
"I was never given the chance to say goodbye.
"He had his whole life ahead of him, he wanted to drive, have a family and children.
"It has taken two people to destroy not only his life but that of his family and friends.
"He will always be loved and missed, forever in our hearts."
Prosecutor Peter Glenser KC told the court police were alerted by a telephone call that a man had been put in the telecommunications box.
He added: "The PC saw a man, a white male, lying on the floor.
"He checked the male for signs of life by shouting and shaking him. The man was cold to touch and unresponsive. There was no pulse and it was obvious the person had multiple severe head injuries.
"The police did what they could to try and resuscitate him, as did paramedics and doctors who attended but nothing could be done and his life was pronounced extinct about an hour or so later."
Mr Glenser added: "The prosecution say the two men in the dock, Louis Whelan and Anthony Keating, between them took part in a savage assault on Blaine Hammond, punching him, kicking him, stamping on him, intending to cause him really serious injury in the living room of Louis Whelan's home address at Saltburn Road, Sunderland."
Mr Glenser said after the pair had beaten Mr Hammond inside the house he was "ejected" out of the front door and Keating left on his moped about 15 minutes later.
The court heard after Keating left the house, Whelan went back inside, leaving Mr Hammond "injured and defenceless" outside.
Mr Glenser said Whelan then sent a series of Facebook messages to try and get someone else to call an ambulance.
In one such message Whelan said: "He took my £20, I've smashed him all over, he's on death's door like, he's still breathing, will you phone an ambulance."
In another he wrote: "He just tried to get £20 off me so I just brayed him all over and he's ******* dying like, need an ambulance."
The court heard there were also discussions over Facebook between Whelan and Keating.
Mr Glenser said Whelan then "dragged" Mr Hammond across Saltburn Road and into the green cabin.
The court heard neither of the killers have long criminal records for violence and are still relatively young.
After the hearing, Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Sharon Chatterton, said: “This has been a horrendous ordeal for Blaine’s family, who have conducted themselves with dignity and shown so much courage throughout these difficult proceedings. No sentence can ever bring Blaine back.”
“Whelan and Keating have never shown any remorse for their acts and the loss of Blaine’s life – and their reluctance to admit their roles in this despicable attack which took Blaine’s life and deprived him of a future, meant his family were put through the ordeal of a trial”.
“These men are dangerous, violent offenders and our communities are a better place without them”.
“As a Force we are committed to tackling serious violence, and we’d ask that the public continues to work with us to help put offenders behind bars and to report any relevant information or concerns that you have .”