Anger af­ter killer of Scots Guards­man is jailed for 2½ years

The Scotsman - - Features - rOd MINCHIN

THE fam­ily of a teenage sol­dier killed just days be­fore he was to have re­turned home for Christ­mas have hit out at the two-anda-half-year jail sen­tence handed to his at­tacker.

an­drew Gib­son, from Cum­ber­nauld, was punched in the back of the head by John Flan­ni­gan dur­ing a drunken at­tack in a night­club in Dar­ling­ton, County Durham, on 11 De­cem­ber. He hit his head on the dance floor, caus­ing fa­tal in­juries.

The 19-year-old Scots Guards­man was based at Cat­t­er­ick Gar­ri­son in York­shire and had been due to go back home for Christ­mas, but he died in hos­pi­tal on 17 De­cem­ber.

Flan­ni­gan, 17, from Dar­ling­ton, pleaded guilty to man­slaugh­ter at an ear­lier hear­ing.

Mr Gib­son’s par­ents, Freddy and Linda Gib­son, said yes­ter­day: “The sen­tence de­liv­ered to­day is def­i­nitely not enough.

“We are ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed at the length of sen­tence handed down and plan on ap­peal­ing this through the Crown ap­peal process.

“an­drew was a lov­ing son who would do any­thing for any­body. We are so proud of him and his achieve­ments. He had so much to give and was full of the joys of life. He has been robbed of his fu­ture, his hopes and his dreams.

“We just keep wish­ing he would walk through the door with his cheeky grin.

“an­drew was also a ded­i­cated sol­dier.”

Mr Gib­son was due to be posted to afghanistan in the new year with his reg­i­ment, and friends said he was “very happy and look­ing for­ward” to go­ing.

His par­ents said: “His dream of go­ing to afghanistan in the ser­vice of his Queen and coun­try was taken away from him.

“an­drew’s death has af­fected our lives and also those of his friends and fam­ily – we have been handed a life sen­tence of pain, grief and ‘what ifs’. The per­son who killed an­drew may be free to live his life by the time he is the same age an­drew was when he died.

“The per­son who killed an­drew will have to live with what he has done for the rest of his life.”

The Gib­sons called for tougher pun­ish­ments to be handed out to li­censed premises that al­low un­der-18s en­try.

“If any­thing pos­i­tive is to come from an­drew’s death, we hope night­clubs en­sure no one un­der the age of 18 is al­lowed en­try and li­cens­ing au­thor­i­ties deal harshly with those who al­low chil­dren on the premises,” they said.

“We also be­lieve night­clubs should be forced to in­stall CCTV which cov­ers all ar­eas so trou­ble can be stopped be­fore it be­comes se­ri­ous.”

They added: “We would like to thank the army, and in par­tic­u­lar the of­fi­cers and men of 1st Bat­tal­ion Scots Guards, Durham Po­lice and our friends for all the sup­port they have given us.

“an­drew didn’t de­serve to die. We have lost a truly won­der­ful son, and the army has lost a com­mit­ted sol­dier. We will never for­get him.”

Teesside Crown Court heard Flan­ni­gan’s at­tack had been “pay­back” for an in­ci­dent min­utes ear­lier. But Ni­cholas de la Poer, de­fend­ing, said: “He [Flan­ni­gan] recog­nises what he did was noth­ing short of ter­ri­ble, with ter­ri­ble con­se­quences.”

Judge Peter Fox told Flan­ni­gan: “I sen­tence you on the fac­tual ba­sis, which the pros­e­cu­tion have ac­cepted, that you had min­utes be­fore been struck once to the face by Mr Gib­son.

“When you recog­nised him as be­ing the per­son re­spon­si­ble for hav­ing struck you, you be­lieved there would be fur­ther trou­ble and you threw your punch.

“as you said in your in­ter­view to the po­lice, ‘it was pay­back’.” PO­LICE are hunt­ing four men af­ter a cou­ple in the 50s were robbed at their home in Glas­gow.

The 53-year-old male house­holder con­fronted the men as they forced their way into his home in Red­path Drive, Cam­bus­lang, early on Thurs­day. He was se­ri­ously as­saulted and needed hos­pi­tal treat­ment for a head in­jury. The sus­pects stole items of jew­ellery and made off. a COUN­CIL worker was held up by three rob­bers who stole a trailer car­ry­ing a mini dig­ger at­tached to the back of his van.

The rob­bers were in a white pick-up style van and po­lice are ap­peal­ing for wit­nesses af­ter the in­ci­dent in the Law area of Car­luke on Thurs­day.

They also urged busi­nesses to con­tact them if any­one tries to sell them the Kub­ota dig­ger. THE BBC has lam­basted the pub­lish­ing com­pany that plans to re­lease an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy un­mask­ing Top Gear’s mys­tery driver, The Stig.

Ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer andy Wil­man ac­cused HarperCollins of chas­ing prof­its to ex­pose a “harm­less” TV se­cret. and he in­sisted the BBC had a right to pro­tect The Stig’s anonymity from “a bunch of chancers”. FIRST Min­is­ter alex Sal­mond has an­nounced fund­ing to help train as­pir­ing Gaelic film­mak­ers.

a to­tal of £10,000 from the Scot­tish Govern­ment and £15,000 from Bòrd na Gàidhlig will sup­port skills train­ing for en­trants to the Gaelic-lan­guage short-film com­pe­ti­tion, FilmG.

Pic­ture: PA

An­drew Gib­son had been due to go to Afghanistan

Freddy and Linda Gib­son said they were ‘so proud’ of their son

John Flan­ni­gan punched his vic­tim in a drunken at­tack

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