College killers jailed

21st July 2006 at 01:00
Attackers beat meditation lecturer to death in search for cash to fund heroin and cocaine habit

Two career criminals have been jailed for killing a lecturer who confronted them at a residential college.

Darren Botchett, 34, was jailed for six years and three months and Ian Richards, 29, for four years after admitting the manslaughter of father-of-two Lawrence Hart.

Mr Hart, 53, and caretaker John Jordan disturbed the two men as they made their getaway after a failed burglary attempt at Hawkwood College, near Stroud, Gloucestershire.

A court heard on Monday how Botchett "roared and exploded out of the car"

after Mr Hart confronted his accomplice.

He struck Mr Hart with two powerful blows, causing him to fall and suffer a fatal brain haemorrhage. Botchett then attacked Mr Jordan, punching him three times in the face, and stole pound;55 from him as he lay on the ground.

A toxicology report showed the attackers were both high on a cocktail of cocaine and heroin. Botchett had been released from custody only two days before the killing, after receiving a community punishment order for theft and dishonesty charges.

Sentencing him at Bristol Crown Court, Judge Tom Crowther said: "You lost it completely, delivering two heavy blows to Mr Lawrence Hart and then blows to Mr John Jordan.

"It was a severe beating but you have admitted your faults and your remorse. I am satisfied that you did not go out to commit violence or be a danger to anyone's life."

Bristol Crown Court heard how Botchett and Richards had tried to burgle a hotel earlier on August 18 last year to fund their drug habits.

After being disturbed, they drove to Hawkwood College, and entered the office where Mr Jordan, 52, also had his own flat.

Mr Jordan challenged the pair and, as he passed Mr Hart's flat, banged on his door for help.

As Mr Hart and Mr Jordan confronted the intruders, Mr Hart said: "I don't understand what you are doing here," and raised his fists at Richards.

Mr Jordan's witness statement said: "The shorter man (Botchett) hit me very hard three times. The blows connected with my face and cheekbones and I fell to the floor. I then saw a flare of punches, a flare of arms. He (Mr Hart) was stumbling back.

"I don't know which one hit Lawrence, but the next clear recollection I have is of Lawrence being on the floor."

Botchett then took pound;55 from Mr Jordan's wallet and drove off with Richards.

Mr Hart was certified dead at the scene at 10.05 pm. A post-mortem examination showed he had suffered 22 separate injuries.

Mr Jordan was taken to hospital with severe bruising and facial injuries and later left his job because of the continuing trauma.

Botchett and Richards, both of Gloucester, were arrested the next day, and a bloodstain on Botchett's top matched Mr Hart's DNA.

Both men have previous convictions, starting as teenagers, including burglary, theft and motoring offences.

They were further sentenced to 18 months for the hotel break-in and three years for the attempted burglary at the college, to be served concurrently with the manslaughter sentence.

Botchett was also sentenced to a concurrent three-year term for grievous bodily harm.

Hawkwood College is used for residential courses, including arts, music and personal development. Mr Hart was a duty manager there and taught meditation classes twice a week.

His ex-wife Celia Hart and former partner Julia Christie said he was a resourceful and talented man who touched many lives.

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