Teenagers who killed father with flare have sentences almost halved

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Two teenagers who killed a father-of-three by throwing a flare into his car as he slept in it have had their sentences almost halved.

Keani Hobbs, 18, and a 16-year-old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons were found guilty in August of the manslaughter of 31-year-old Vilson Meshi.

They were also found guilty of theft of marine distress flares from a moored boat.

Hobbs, of Stagden Cross, Pitsea, Essex, was locked up for nine years and the 16-year-old, of Camberwell, south London, for six years.

Their sentences, handed down by Chelmsford Crown Court, were reduced to five and three-and-a-half years respectively by Court of Appeal judges on Thursday.

The court heard Mr Meshi had driven to Basildon, Essex, from his home in Derbyshire on February 27 2016 and slept in his car outside his ex-partner's home so he could look after his children from early the following morning.

He died from inhaling toxic fumes after the flare was thrown into his car by Hobbs.

His funeral was held in a small town in his native Albania with more than 4,000 mourners, many from the UK.

Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, told the court the incident was a "prank which gave rise to dreadful and tragic consequences".

He said: "They expected to wake the sleeping occupant out of the car and watch his reaction as he sought to get out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.

"They would not have known that marine flares burn at a much higher temperature than ordinary fireworks, with an exceptional intensity and that the chemicals are especially toxic.

"They must have appreciated that Mr Meshi would cough and splutter, a moment's thought would have led anyone to conclude that some injury might be suffered from inhaling smoke and fumes and also that in scrambling from the car its occupant might hurt himself.

"But in terms of culpability the circumstances fall at a relatively low level."

Sitting with two other judges, Lord Burnett said the original sentences did not take enough account of the "reckless" nature of the crime or the youth of both offenders.

The court rejected a bid by Hobbs to have her conviction overturned.