Robber jailed after North East man was pushed into canal and left to drown fails in appeal

Body of Simon Brass, 40, originally from Washington, was found four days after he was dumped in the Rochdale Canal, in Manchester city centre

Clockwise from top left: Paul Creedy, 20, Kieron Murray, 22, Leah Garner, 21, and Jack Smith, 19
Clockwise from top left: Paul Creedy, 20, Kieron Murray, 22, Leah Garner, 21, and Jack Smith, 19

A robber who was jailed after a North East man was pushed into a canal and left to drown has failed in a Court of Appeal challenge to her 10-year sentence.

The body of Simon Brass, 40, originally from Washington, was found four days after he was dumped in the Rochdale Canal, in Manchester city centre, in June 2012.

Five people, including 21-year-old Leah Jade Garner, of Stockport Road, Levenshulme, Manchester, were locked up for Mr Brass’ manslaughter last October. Yesterday, she appealed against her sentence in London, but saw her case thrown out of the Court of Appeal by three senior judges.

Mr Justice Cranston said the Crown court judge was right to take into account the “callous” way the robbers left Mr Brass, who could not swim. The court heard Mr Brass was accosted on a canal towpath.

When the gang’s bid to rob him was frustrated, he was thrown into the canal. One of them, who could not be identified due to his young age, said he heard Mr Brass shouting “I can’t swim” as they ran off.

Garner was not accused of actually throwing him into the water, but admitted lending encouragement and support by her presence.

Sentencing at Manchester Crown Court, Judge Clement Goldstone QC said the fact an area used by gay men was targeted for the attempted robbery was an aggravating feature. The group knew that victims in that area would be less likely to complain, he said. Garner’s lawyers today argued that there was no evidence to suggest that Garner or her accomplices targeted the area for that specific reason.

It was more likely they chose the area because it was dark and less regularly visited by police officers, the appeal judges were told.

Rejecting the challenge, Mr Justice Cranston said the crown court judge was entitled to find that the gang were deliberately targeting vulnerable homosexual victims.

The 10-year sentence was upheld.

Paul Creedy, 20, of Heathcote Road, Gorton, Manchester, got a 13-year extended sentence, while Kieron Murray, 22, Eastern Bypass, Openshaw, Manchester, was jailed for 10 years and Jack Smith, 19, Lawnhurst Avenue, Wythenshawe, Manchester for nine.

The fifth defendant, who was only 15 at the time, got a term of five years and eight months.

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