A “bully” convicted of manslaughter after unlawfully imprisoning his victim in a loft has been jailed for three years.
Harry Scott sat with his head down as he was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court by Judge Stuart Rafferty QC for the killing of Lincs man Richard Woods.
If you carry out an unlawful act and someone dies as a result you are responsible for their death in law. That is manslaughter. That is what happened in this case.
Passing sentence Judge Rafferty said Richard’s death had been set against a background of “bullying and harassment” by Scott.
Judge Rafferty told Scott: “You are still a young man, you are 25.”
“Richard Woods was a young man too, he was 32.”
“He was entitled to look forward to a long and hopefully in the end a happy life.”
“You by your actions, not intentionally, took that life away.”
Judge Rafferty added: “You for many months had made a target of him.”
Scott, 25, of Ramsgate, Louth, had denied the manslaughter of Mr Woods, 32, on 12th January 2014 but he was convicted by a jury after a month long trial at Lincoln Crown Court.
Sentence had been adjourned to the Nottingham hearing for the preparation of reports.
During the trial Adrienne Lucking QC, prosecuting, told the jury that Scott unlawfully imprisoned Richard Woods in the loft of Mr Woods’ home in Spring Terrace, Louth, by raising the connecting ladder and securing it so that it could not be lowered.
Richard Woods, described as a shy and vulnerable man, attempted to climb between two of the ladder steps and became trapped. Scott then repeatedly struck him with a length of wood rather than attempt to free him and he subsequently died as a result of asphyxiation.
Mrs Lucking said: “Richard Woods was in his loft. He had a computer up there.”
“The loft is accessed by means of a wooden ladder. The defendant trapped him in that loft. Using the loft ladder he pulled it up by the pulley system and secured it to the stair post. There was no way for Richard Woods to release himself from the attic.”
“This was no schoolboy prank. It was bullying by the defendant at the end of a course of bullying. Richard Woods tried to escape by climbing down between the steps of the ladder and he was left hanging in a position which ultimately proved to be fatal.”
“The defendant didn’t help him whilst he was hanging there in the process of asphyxiation. What he did was pick up a piece of wood and strike Richard Woods to the side of his body repeatedly.”
“If you carry out an unlawful act and someone dies as a result you are responsible for their death in law. That is manslaughter. That is what happened in this case.”
The two men had spent much of the evening drinking together in pubs and a night club in Louth town centre before Richard Woods returned alone to his terraced home. Scott turned up in the early hours looking for a bed for the night and the incident that led to Richard’s death followed soon afterwards.
Scott did not give evidence from the witness box but the jury heard a series of interviews in which he claimed to have simply found the body. He denied trapping Richard Woods in the loft and tying up the ladder to prevent his escape and said he cut down a rope securing the ladder when he found Richard Woods’ body and raised the alarm.
David Nathan QC, mitigating for Scott, said hitting Richard with the wood was not the direct cause of his death.
Mr Nathan told the court: “Whatever else, Harry’s immediate reaction was to save him.”
Mr Nathan said Scott had cleaned up his act in the last 12 months, living with his grandparents in an isolated part of Lincolnshire.
Speaking after the trial, Senior Investigating Officer, DCI Martin Holvey, from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (Major Crime), said: “Richard Woods had been the victim of bullying by Harry Scott for some time and it was this behaviour that led to Richard ending up imprisoned in his own loft.”
“When Richard’s efforts to escape went so horribly wrong, Scott had the opportunity to help him but he failed to do so until it was too late. Indeed, not only did he leave Richard in extreme danger but the prosecution case was that he inflicted one final act of abuse by beating him repeatedly in those last few moments.”
“Richard’s family have had to face the anguish of losing him in such dreadful circumstances as well as a lengthy court trial.”