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Disabled man battered to death in street during drunken rage

Attacker recently released on probation after 11 years behind bars

28 February, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Wayne Packer: he spent 11 years in prison after receiving a three-year sentence at the age of 19

A DISABLED man was beaten to death in the street by a former prisoner who had recently been released from jail after 11 years.

Wayne Packer, 31, attacked Peter O’Loughlin, 50, in a drunken rage as he lay on the ground at the junction of Camden Road and Holloway Road. Eyewitnesses described seeing Packer kick Mr O’Loughlin in the head “like it was a football”.

Mr O’Loughlin, of Highbury Grove, later died in hospital.

Packer was sentenced on Wednesday to life with a minimum term of six years and five months after admitting manslaughter.

A victim impact statement from Mr O’Loughlin’s sister, Hazel, was read out in court. She said: “Peter was a happy and smiley person who was outgoing and a lover of travel and art.”

She added that there had been a “very significant impact felt” by all members of the family and that it was a “tragedy” that he was killed for no apparent reason.

Wood Green Crown Court heard this week how Packer had only been released from prison months before the attack.

He had been given a three-year sentence when he was 19 in 2008 after a spate of violent robberies.

This was, however, an “indeterminate sentence”, which meant he could not be released unless the Parole Board gave permission.

This law was introduced in 2003 by then home secretary David Blunkett but it was repealed in 2014.

The effects of “never-ending” sentences were highlighted this week as an inquest into the death of Charlotte Nokes continues.

She died while serving eight years in prison, having originally being sentenced to 15 months.

Packer’s defence barrister, Andrew Campbell-Tiech QC, told the court: “He spent 11 years in custody, aged 19 to 30, the most formative years in a young adult male’s life. In his own words, Mr Packer said ‘My behaviour actually got worse in prison dealing with set-backs.’ To get a three-year tariff and then spend 11 years is torture.”

Mr Campbell-Tiech argued that the indeterminate sentence had changed Packer’s mental well-being and judgment.

Another sentence like this was set to do more damage, he added.

And he urged the state to “take some responsib­ility for the way it treats its incarcerates”.

Passing the life sentence, Judge John Dodd said Packer posed a threat to the public.

When members of the public tried to intervene in the incident last year, Packer threatened to beat them and said he had a knife.

CCTV footage shown in court showed Mr O’Loughlin, who used a walking stick and had a pronounced limp after suffering a stroke in 2004, trying to get to his feet on several occasions before he is knocked back down repeatedly by Packer.

Packer eventually fled before the police arrived. The police advised Mr O’Loughlin to take himself to hospital as it “might take up to three hours” for an ambulance to arrive, prosecuting barrister QC Duncan Atkinson said.

Mr O’Loughlin died after spending three weeks in a coma.

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