Lincolnshire

Cruel attackers 'betrayed' vulnerable Shaun Rossington

Shaun Rossington
Image caption Shaun Rossington agreed to a meeting with a 13-year-old girl

This year was meant to be one of celebration for Sharon and Kevin Rossington.

Their eldest son, Chris, was expecting a second baby with his fiancee. And their other son, Shaun, was thinking of moving in with his girlfriend - they had even talked of getting engaged.

For Shaun Rossington, the possibility of leaving the parents he adored was to be a big milestone.

He had Asperger's syndrome, and at the age of 21 was still afraid of the dark.

His condition meant he was prone to being naive, immature and suggestible.

In the early hours of 3 June, he made a decision which was to cost his life. He agreed to meet a 13-year-old girl, who was a friend of his, a meeting it was claimed was to get £100 from him she said she was owed.

Shaun walked from his home and when he arrived at grassland on Searby Road, he was soon surrounded by a group who it was suggested in court knew he was bringing money to the meeting.

One even pretended to be a police officer who was going to arrest him.

There then followed what had been described as a "brutal attack" on Shaun.

Despite being 6ft 4in tall and weighing 16 stone, he was brought to the ground by a beer bottle smashed over his head.

He was repeatedly punched, kicked and stamped on. The attack was vicious, and footwear tread marks were later found on his head.

On Friday, Nicholas Shelbourne, 27, Mark Jackson, 21, Daryll Jones, 17, and Jordan O'Rouke, 17, were convicted of his murder.

A 17-year-old girl was found guilty of manslaughter. A 16-year-old boy and a girl, 14, were cleared of murder.

Took cigarettes

Mr Rossington did not have the £100. So the attackers took his cigarettes and walked away while he lay dying on the ground.

Later some of the group returned to the scene and realised they had killed their victim.

A new plot was hatched - they dialled 999 and, playing the part of concerned members of the public, claimed they had stumbled across the body of a stranger.

Image caption Mr Rossington's parents said their son's attackers 'abused his friendship'

It was, police said, the start of a "web of deceit" designed to cover their tracks.

Mr Rossington's devastated father, Kevin, has spoken of his last moments with his son.

The previous night, they had both been at home, talking about football as they often did.

Before he went to bed, he told him to "be safe and keep out of trouble". Hours later his son was dead.

In court, Mr Rossington's attackers said they had attacked him because they thought he was a paedophile.

They argued it was not right for a 21-year-old man to meet a girl eight years his junior.

But police officers who investigated the case have rubbished the claims.

They said Mr Rossington's vulnerable nature meant he would not have considered it anything more than a meeting with someone he thought was a friend.

Went 'innocently'

Although there was no suggestion the attackers were aware of Mr Rossington's learning difficulties, his mother Sharon believes her son was betrayed by those he trusted.

"He's been cheated by people who have abused his friendship. I'm sure he went out innocently not knowing he was under any threat of losing his life," she said.

As the trial drew to an end, there was some good news for the Rossingtons. Chris Rossington's fiancee gave birth to a boy. They called him Jack, and gave him the middle name Shaun.

Mr Rossington senior said he believed his son Shaun would have been thrilled by the new arrival.

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