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14 Feb 2008

‘Happy Slap’ Death Girl Convicted

The message is this: If you stand by and watch your friends committing brutal crimes and video their acts... prosecution may follow.

A 15-year-old girl has admitted filming the death of a man on her mobile phone in a so-called "happy slapping" attack.

She pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting manslaughter at Leeds Crown Court after filming the attack on Gavin Waterhouse last September.
Mr Waterhouse, 29, from Keighley, later died from a ruptured spleen.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the decision to prosecute the girl was a legal landmark.

Mark Masters, 19, and a male, 17, have admitted manslaughter.
All three defendants will be sentenced at a later date.

Leeds Crown Court heard how Mr Waterhouse managed to get back to his flat after being assaulted by Masters and the 17-year-old youth, but died from internal injuries.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the girl was handed a mobile phone by one of the attackers and was told to "video this".

She then approached Mr Waterhouse and asked him for some money before recording the attack upon him.

Prosecution witnesses said they saw and heard the attackers boasting about what they had just done, saying it was not the first time that they had attacked the victim.

They also shared the video footage with friends, the court heard.

Judith Naylor, from the CPS, said: "As far as I am aware, this is the first time a suspect in England and Wales has been successfully prosecuted for aiding and abetting murder or manslaughter, for the filming of an inaptly called 'happy slapping' incident.

"We have seen and heard of many instances in recent months and years, where youths have been encouraged by their peers to attack innocent people, without words ever having been used.

"The message is this: If you stand by and watch your friends committing brutal crimes and video their acts for yours or for others' amusement your actions will not be ignored by the law enforcement agencies and prosecution may follow."

Det Supt Paul Kennedy, from West Yorkshire Police, said: "We are pleased with the outcome of this police investigation following what was an unprovoked and cowardly attack. Our thoughts are with Gavin's family."

With thanks to BBC News: for this news item.