Monday, 27 August 2007

SUNDERLAND: Killed for £5

Killed for £5

Mum's anguish after thugs kick vulnerable son to death

Brent Martin

Brent Martin

The heartbroken mum of a vulnerable young man stripped and kicked to death for just £5 said last night: "He was so trusting, he'd have handed it over to them without a second thought - yet they still wanted more."

The thugs launched a brutal, sustained attack on Brent Martin, 23, who had learning difficulties - leaving him to die with blood pouring from head wounds and stripped of all dignity with his trousers and underwear dragged down around his ankles.

Distraught mum Brenda spoke of her sorrow before two youths, aged 16 and 17, and a man were last night charged with murdering the "gentle giant".

Brent, who moved back to his Sunderland home town to start a new life only in May, died in Brenda's arms in hospital on Saturday.

He had been on his way back to her house after visiting a sister when the beating took place last Thursday - and by chance he collapsed outside his uncle Norman Dodds' home.

But injuries that made him look like a car accident victim left Norman unable to recognise him. And Brenda said: "How could they do my lovable, vulnerable boy such harm?

"This gang were asking for £5 and he probably thought they were trying to make friends. He wouldn't have understood.

"He was so trusting that he would have handed his money over without a second thought. Yet they followed him and kicked and punched him to death."

Brenda, who revealed Brent wanted to become a landscape gardener after eight years of training for his special needs, added: "We lost him through his teenage years when he went into hospital because of his difficulties.

"We had just got him back again - and now I just hope and pray that the people who did this suffer as much as Brent must have done."

Mr Dodds was too distressed to talk. But a neighbour on his Town End Farm estate said: "Norman and Bobby Snowdon, another resident who is a first aider, tried to help.

"The injuries were so bad there was nothing Bobby could do but get a blanket to hide his pulled-down trousers and underpants.

"The police asked if we knew him and we all said no - even Norman. But it was understandable as there was blood all over."

Police believe he was dragged along the pavement by his belt during the assault.

Brent lived with his sister Beverley in Newcastle before returning to Sunderland.

And she and Brent's twin Danielle yesterday comforted Brenda, who raised them along with other daughters Tracey, 43, and Angela, 42, and son Alex, 40, after the death of miner husband Alexander, 48, in 1988.

Brenda told them: "When I held Brent for the last time I said, 'Justice will be done for you'. I felt an inner warmth and the strong presence of his dad - who he's with now."

Danielle, who revealed Brent had recently been on his first proper date, added: "In two weeks we were to celebrate his 24th birthday, the first time for so long we'd have been together as he'd always been in hospital."

William Hughes, 21, of Sunderland, and the two youths will appear before local magistrates today. A woman and another quizzed youth of 17 have been released on police bail.

A man of 21 died in hospital yesterday after he was stabbed outside a kebab shop in Wellingborough, Northants. Three men were in custody last night.

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