Three youths were jailed for life at the Old Bailey today for the “primeval” murder of an IT expert over his girlfriend’s Halloween hat.
Ben Gardner, 31, was described as “a gold-standard young man of exceptional character, charm, gentleness and ability who gave absolutely no provocation”.
“His attributes shine and sparkle in contrast to your base metal,” Judge Richard Hone told the killers.
Mr Gardner had been punched to the ground where he lay helpless as one of the men kicked his head “as if taking a penalty”. His girlfriend Allanna Devine, 28, was also punched in the attack in Sutton on Halloween night last year.
Daniel Ransom, 21, Ross Collender, 21, and Jordan Dixon, 18, all of Carshalton, were convicted of murder earlier this week.
Today the judge imposed minimum sentences of 16 years each on Collender and Ransom and 14 years on the “enthusiastic henchman” Dixon.
The judge called it “an intensely depressing trial”, adding: “The effect of the blows and kick to which you all subscribed, the unusual fracture deep in Ben Gardner’s skull and the joint enterprise were deeply primeval moments.”
Collender has 10 previous convictions for dishonesty, violence and possessing ammunition and Dixon has 13 other offences including drugs and violence and also possessing a knife on the day he was arrested.
The judge also rejected any suggestion that the three had shown remorse, saying: “I find not a trace of it in any of your cases — rather the reverse.”
Mr Gardner who worked for insurance firm Legal and General, had been to a club with Miss Devine to celebrate her birthday on the night he died. She was waiting for him outside a kebab shop when a group of men snatched her fancy dress hat and wig.
The court heard how Mr Gardner approached the group and the killers launched a vicious attack.