Teenagers locked up for killing traveller, 15

Two teenagers were each sentenced to four-and-a-half years in a young offender institution yesterday for killing a young traveller.

Lewis McVeigh and Ricky Kearney, both 16, from Ellesmere Port, in Cheshire, were sentenced for the manslaughter of Johnny Delaney, 15, at Chester Crown Court.

Johnny, who lived on a travellers' site in Vauxhall, Liverpool, was kicked in the head during a row between his friends and a group of youths in Ellesmere Port.

The attack, which took place on a playing field on May 28, was claimed by the prosecution to be racially motivated.

But Mr Justice Richards said he did not believe that McVeigh, from Limes Street, in Ellesmere Port, and Kearney, from Redhills Mews, also in Ellesmere Port, were racially motivated.

He said: "What you did was not done because Johnny was a gipsy but was a spontaneous flare of violence between two groups of youths."

Speaking outside court, Johnny's father Patrick Delaney said: "This is no justice whatsoever. We all know that this was a racial attack for no reason.."

It was claimed that the fight had started after one gang of youths shouted "Gipsy bastard" at Johnny's gang.

But Mr Justice Richards said he could not be satisfied about who actually made this remark.

Johnny was attacked after he and his friends began running away from the youths.

The slightly-built teenager, who worked with his father laying tarmac, tripped over and was kicked several times as he lay on the ground.

He was rushed to the Countess of Chester Hospital, but died shortly afterwards.

For the first six years of his life, Johnny was raised in a house in Derby, but his parents missed the travelling lifestyle so moved to a site in Wrexham, in north Wales.

In 2001, the Delaneys, who originate from Ireland, moved to their current site in Liverpool.

Following the hearing the Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary Peter Fahy released a joint statement with Cheshire County Council.

He said: "The judge has made clear his view that the defendants themselves were not racially motivated when carrying out this crime.

"Nevertheless, it seems clear that the incident as a whole was aggravated by underlying tensions that existed between members of the travelling community and local youngsters.

"I think we should be very, very concerned by the degree of violence exhibited within this case."

He said he wanted to see adults and parents lead by example, and work together to highlight the dangers of racial stereotyping.

Mr Fahy paid tribute to Johnny, describing him as a "loving, caring and sharing child".