Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Gemma Bradley

What the judge said to the teen and two men who beat man to death in Bootle

Two men and a schoolboy who beat a security guard to death were sentenced on Thursday after a lengthy trial.

Jay Byrne, 26, of Leyland Road in Southport and Joseph Byrne, 25, of no fixed abode, were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on Thursday (March 16). They pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Christopher Molloy, although both were cleared of murder after a trial.

A teenage boy, who can't be named for legal reasons, was also sentenced. He was convicted of murder by the jury after three hours and 41 minutes of deliberation.

A trial previously heard that the two men and 15-year-old boy beat security guard Mr Molloy to death in an early hours gang attack near to Bootle Strand, at around 12.45am on July 12, last year.

Here is what he said to them in sentencing.

Judge Neil Flewitt KC began: “Joseph Byrne, Jay Byrne and you (the youth offender who cannot be named for legal reasons), on July 12, each of you took part in an attack on Christopher Molloy, inflicting injuries from which he died 7 days later, on July 19.

“Christopher Molloy was born on November 26, 1966 and so was 55 years of age when he met his death at your hands. “He was single and did not have children.

“He is survived by his brother, Jason, and by his father, who has made a moving victim personal statement which has been read to me this morning. “Christopher Molloy and his father were very close and spoke everyday.

“Christopher Molloy was a good son and provided support for his father in his day to day activities. “His death has deprived his father of that support at the time when it is most needed and will undoubtedly cast a shadow over his remaining years.

“Christopher Molloy’s death and his family’s grief is your responsibility and for that you must now be punished. “During the evening of July 11, Christopher Molloy was drinking in the area of Stanley Road in Bootle and it is possible that his behaviour was affected, to some extent, by the alcohol that he had taken.

“In the early hours of July 12, Christopher Molloy became involved in conversation with a group of young people, including the then-14-year-old’s girlfriend. “When that 14-year-old later joined the group, he was told that Christopher Molloy had made an unwelcome approach to his girlfriend, including a suggestion that he had touched her inappropriately.

“Although there was, in fact, no evidence that any such thing had happened, the boy was upset by that allegation and drew it to the attention of Joseph Byrne and Jay Byrne who were, by chance, in the area, walking their dog. “There then followed an altercation between the group, including all three defendants, and Christopher Molloy, during which I am satisfied that Jay Byrne, either shoved or punched him, causing him to cross the road to McDonald’s to look for sanctuary.

“Unfortunately for Christopher Molloy, McDonald’s was closed and so he was forced to remain on Stanley Road, exposed to the attack that followed. “At that point, Joseph Byrne, accompanied by the teenager, ran across Stanley Road to confront Christopher Molloy.

“I am satisfied that Joseph Byrne’s purpose in doing so was to teach him a lesson. “There is evidence that, around that time, someone shouted, “knock him out” and I have no doubt that is what Joseph Byrne intended to do.

“When Joseph Byrne reached Christopher Molloy, he swung several punches in his direction. “Those punches were thrown without provocation or warning and at least two of them made contact with Christopher Molloy’s head or face, knocking him to the ground where he banged his head on the pavement.

“While Christopher Molloy was lying unconscious on the ground, the then-14-year-old stood astride him and repeatedly slapped him across the face, before walking away and bumping fists with Joseph Byrne. "A few minutes later, Jay Byrne and the then-14-year-old walked back across Stanley Road to where Christopher Molloy was lying on the ground, still unconscious.

“Jay Byrne delivered a forceful kick to the left side of Christopher Molloy’s head and the then 14-year-old delivered an extremely violent kick to the right side of his head. "After doing so, he turned and made a triumphant gesture to the group on the other side of the road.

“While Christopher Molloy was still lying helpless on the ground, no-one made any attempt to help him and several of those nearby, including Jay Byrne and the then-14-year-old, went through his pockets. “As a result of the assaults that I have just described, Christopher Molloy suffered a number of head injuries.

“Firstly, there was bruising to the front of his brain that was described by the pathologist as a contrecoup injury and which was a consequence of the impact between his head and the ground. “That injury was caused by the punches thrown by Joseph Byrne and, taken alone, it was sufficiently serious to have caused Christopher Molloy’s death.

“In addition, there was a right-sided subdural haemorrhage and a burst right temporal lobe which were undoubtedly caused by the forceful kick delivered by the then 14-year-old. “That kick is also likely to have caused the fracture to the right side of the skull.

“Again, those injuries were sufficient of themselves to have caused the death of Christopher Molloy. “To the left side of Christopher Molloy’s head were injuries which included a small fracture to the orbit and a fracture to the left side of the jaw.

“Although the pathologist could not be certain, it is likely, in my view, that those injuries were caused by the kick delivered by Jay Byrne. “Due to the presence of the other injuries which I have just described, it is impossible to say, with any certainty, whether those injuries contributed to Christopher Molloy’s death but they may have done so.

“In any event, Jay Byrne’s involvement in this incident certainly encouraged the then-14-year-old to deliver the more forceful kick, causing injuries which undoubtedly contributed to Christopher Molloy’s death.”

He then addressed each defendant individually. Judge Flewitt continued: “Joseph Byrne has eight convictions for 12 offences, including battery, criminal damage and a racially aggravated public order offence in 2017 and the Scottish equivalent of common assault in 2021. “Of more significance is the fact that, on February 12, 2022, he committed offences of criminal damage and possessing a bladed article for which, on September 12, 2022, he was sent to prison for 16 weeks.

“I have read a letter, written by Joseph Byrne, in which he expresses his remorse for the death of Christopher Molloy. “I have also read a pre-sentence report which concludes by assessing Joseph Byrne as posing a high risk of causing serious harm to the public until work is done to address his offending behaviour."

He then turned to Jay Byrne. Judge Flewitt said: “Jay Byrne is now 26 years of age. “He has 10 convictions for 12 offences, including threatening with a blade in 2019, theft from a dwelling in 2021 and being drunk in charge of a child in 2021.

“He has never previously received an immediate custodial sentence. “The pre-sentence report refers to Jay Byrne being attacked in May 2022 and, as a result, spending a lengthy period in hospital.

“He has told both the probation team and his legal team that, as a result of that attack, he is now suffering from epilepsy and memory loss." “The teenager is now 15 years of age, he was only 14 years of age when he committed the offence of murder.

“He has no convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings. “I shall, of course, take his good character into account in his favour but its impact is diluted by his affiliation to a local organised crime group, his drug use and his habitual carrying of weapons, all of which are described in the pre-sentence report. “

"As a result of what are summarised in the pre-sentence report as “his diverse needs, learnt behaviours and traumatic life events”, the 15-year-old was placed in the care of the local authority in 2022 and sent to live with two support workers. “However, he absconded and was living on the streets when he committed the offence of murder. “He did so after spending the day taking ketamine, drinking lager and vodka and smoking cannabis.

“He has been diagnosed with ADHD and conduct disorder. “It is the opinion of the doctor that the 15-year-old’s untreated ADHD would have had an impact on his behaviour at the time at which this offence took place and that his conduct disorder is likely to make him more predisposed to engage in delinquent behaviour.

“He is described in the pre-sentence report as “streetwise” and as appearing “mature for his years”. “He is also described as “a child who lacks maturity, understanding of situations and clearly did not comprehend the lifestyle he was leading”.

“Since he was placed on remand, he has made good progress, although his behaviour has been challenging at times. “He is now under the care of a psychiatrist, he has achieved gold level status for his engagement and good behaviour and he has made excellent progress in education.”

Judge Flewitt then began to pass sentence. He said: “There are a number of aggravating features, namely; the fact that the 15-year-old committed this offence when affected by alcohol and drugs, his involvement throughout the incident, in encouraging Joseph Byrne to assault Christopher Molloy, in slapping Christopher Molloy across the face and in returning with Jay Byrne to kick Christopher Molloy while he lay unconscious on the ground.

“Also his behaviour after the incident, in going through Christopher Molloy’s pockets and in doing nothing to help him. “In mitigation, I accept that the 15-year-old did not intend to kill Christopher Molloy and that his involvement was not premeditated in the sense that the assault was not planned in advance.

“I also accept, having heard the evidence at trial, that he was under some pressure, both from his peers and from the adults present, to show that he could stand up for and protect his girlfriend. “I note that he has expressed remorse to the author of the pre-sentence report and to others.

“I accept that is what he has said but I regret to say that I did not see any indication of it during his trial. “However, I accept that may be a consequence of his age and his lack of understanding of the implications of his actions."

The 15-year-old was sentenced to life with a minimum of eight years for murder. Judge Flewitt continued: “Although the roles played by Joseph Byrne and Jay Byrne were different, I do not consider that there is any real difference in their culpability.

“Although Joseph Byrne started the violence, he left the scene after knocking Christopher Molloy to the ground. “Although Jay Byrne was not involved in the initial violence, he kicked Christopher Molloy to the head while he was lying unconscious on the ground.

“It is an aggravating feature of both their cases that their conduct encouraged the then-14-year-old to become involved. “Joseph Byrne encouraged him to follow him across Stanley Road and to watch him teach Christopher Molloy a lesson and, by kicking Christopher Molloy while he was on the ground, Jay Byrne encouraged the teenager to do likewise.

"In addition, both Joseph Byrne and Jay Byrne had been drinking and taking drugs." Joseph Byrne was sentenced to 13 years and nine months imprisonment. Jay Byrne was handed 10 and a half years imprisonment.

For inflicting grievous bodily harm against John McLoughlin, Joseph Byrne was given an 18 month sentence, and for inflicting actual bodily harm against Kellsey Freeman, he received a consecutive sentence of 27 months imprisonment.


Mum with eight kids faces nightmare as landlord wants them out

Council wants to end free parking after 6pm

Mum shed five stone and dumped husband after realisation on girls' holiday

Killer brothers laugh and grin as judge jails them for manslaughter

I visited my great-great-nan's street and found the most Irish man I know

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.