A man who viciously killed a ‘defenceless’ addict in Corby has been sent to jail for seven years and two months.
The family of tragic father-of-two Thomas Gravestock was in court this morning to hear the horrific details of how their son was battered to death by a group including Sean Doherty, 25, of Lincoln Way, Corby.
Doherty, who had originally been due to stand trial for murder this month, had pleaded guilty to manslaughter at an earlier hearing and was in court today to hear a judge hand down his sentence, of which he will serve half in jail and half on licence.
The hearing this morning (Thursday, February 28) at Northampton Crown Court was the first time details of the brutal killing had been laid bare in open court.
The court heard how Doherty had ‘taken against’ Mr Gravestock - known locally as Tom Tom or Cockney Tom- because of a drug debt of just £20 that he owed to Doherty’s friend Graham. He was subject to 35 blunt force trauma injuries broken ribs, a fractured skull and lacerated liver and two collapsed lungs.
While Mr Gravestock lay dying, Doherty took pictures of him on his mobile phone and sent them to a friend.
Mr Doherty’s mother was also in court to hear how he walked with Mr Gravestock the town’s though Lincoln estate carrying a metal bar from a dumbell and with his t-shirt off on Tuesday, August 21 last year.
His intention, the court heard, was to humiliate Mr Gravestock.
Doherty had punched Mr Gravestock several times in the face after meeting up with him at the home of their friend Gemma Beck at 30 Butterwick Walk, Corby in the early evening of August 21. The court heard how this was a ‘precursor’ to a later attack.
Between 9pm and 11pm, the pair then went to another home in Butterwick Walk where Doherty accused the victim of ‘taking the p***’ over the £20 drug debt and doubled it to £40. He said he would stay with Mr Gravestock until he was paid two days later, so he could accompany him to the cash machine.
He made Mr Gravestock repeat “I am a bad person, I am a bad person.”
Witnesses described Mr Gravestock as looking ‘broken and subdued’.
Her Honour Judge Adrienne Lucking said “You we keeping him with you was a humiliating act.”
They returned to 30 Butterwick Walk where Mr Gravestock went upstairs to get some sleep. In the early hours of Wednesday, August 22, Doherty went upstairs with others and started an attack that would end in Mr Gravestock’s death.
In court, he admitted kicking Mr Gravestock with the side of his foot and slapping him, but blamed another man - Andrew Rae - for jumping on Mr Gravestock’s chest ‘with his full weight’.
Neighbours reported thudding and banging noises and someone shouting ‘stop’.
At about 2.15am, Doherty rang his friend David Howe, who didn’t answer. He then texted Mr Howe, sending him ‘degrading’ pictures of injured Thomas Gravestock and saying “Cockney Tom’s getting it for your cheek over not answering.”
Paramedics found Mr Gravestock in the address the following morning. He was dead. The court was told that it had taken a period of ‘hours’ for him to die,
Doherty was arrested in a house in Lincoln Way and denied knowing Mr Gravestock.
In mitigation, the court heard how Doherty had suffered from a traumatic childhood and that drink and drugs addictions had taken hold ‘at a young age’.
He had a long list of previous violent convictions and had served several prison sentences.
Sentencing him to seven years and two months in jail, the judge said that she had given him credit for pleading guilty to manslaughter.
He will serve half of his sentence before being released on licence.
Doherty had said he is willing to help the police in any further enquires they make.
Andrew Rae, who Doherty accused of taking part in the beating, has not been charged with any offence.