A pair of teenagers have been jailed for a total of 27 years after a young father plunged to his death from an upstairs window while trying to escape a violent robbery.
Dad-of-one Sam O’Brien fell from a block of flats trying to seek help for the injuries he received while being attacked for his wallet, bank cards and phone.
Ide Faysal and Abdi Shidane, both 18, were convicted of manslaughter and robbery following a lengthy trial and are now starting long prison sentences.
Neither defendant gave evidence to the jury and the judge said only they knew exactly what had happened during the incident in Southampton Street in the centre of Reading on July 2 last year.
Judge Johanna Cutts heard how Faysal and Shidane frequently caught a train late at night from Hayes, Middlesex to Reading to "prey on the vulnerable" as people made their way home from public houses and clubs, threatening them with violence and sometimes knives.
Their last victim was Mr O’Brien, who had a seven-year-old son and had been saving up to move out from the family home with his new partner. He worked as a forklift driver and was a keen fitness enthusiast.
Sentencing the two teenagers, Judge Cutts said: "You both showed callous disregard and now have suffered the gravest possible consequences because of your offending.
"Mr O’Brien belonged to a close family and had lived in Reading all his life. He had a young son and many close relatives. He was a warm-hearted and generous son, father, brother and friend.
"On the night of his death he had gone out to socialise with his younger brother, while his son was staying at his parents’ house. They had planned to spend the next day together as a family.
"On the night of the incident Mr O’Brien went to take some money out from a cashpoint and Abdi Shidane was seen on CCTV trying to help him find a taxi which he did not need as he always walked home. Eventually he became tired of you and pushed you away, thinking he then had rid of you.
"The CCTV then shows Mr O’Brien walking purposefully home but unknown to him you two were following him with the knowledge that he had just withdrawn cash.
"He turned off Southampton Street and went past the church and this is where you pounced and attacked him."
The court heard CCTV showed the pair walking away from the scene leaving Mr O’Brien bleeding heavily and dazed from the attack. He found himself climbing into a block of flats before falling to his death.
Judge Cutts, sitting at Reading Crown Court, added: "Shortly afterwards, you tried to use his bank card a total of 24 times that evening and had left him on the floor bleeding from a wound to the top of his head that he picked up either from a blunt blow or at some point during his fall.
"Yet two people do know what happened at this point, but you did not give evidence. The only evidence we had was from a pre-prepared statement that was handed over in one interview and nothing was tested under oath.
"Serious re-offending and criminal activity has become normal to you. Each of you is dangerous and pose a significant risk of harm to the general public.
"In spite of your youth you have significant past convictions and were each on bail at the time of this offence."
Jennifer O’Brien, Sam’s mum, read out an emotional statement as part of the prosecution’s closing case.
She said: "Sam’s death has had a huge impact on us all. Sam had a seven-year-old son who has been deeply affected and is receiving counselling.
"He was a dedicated father and was saving up so he could move out and have enough space for them. He was very sporty and had just taken up kayaking. It’s sad his son will miss out on this, and all the time they would have spent together.
"Sam had a lot of friends and was well loved. He was a forklift truck driver and spent his spare time either going to the gym or spending time with his son.
"He would fix people’s cars without saying anything and was always happy to help people out, he would always give me lifts if I needed them. He was so kind to his grandmother as well.
"He was my oldest son, we were very close and we used to talk a lot. I miss him greatly, it feels like I have lost a friend as well as my son."
Sam’s partner Kirsty, also read a victim statement. She said: "We both had the same silly sense of humour. We loved going to see bands together and going out for food.
"We would see each other everyday. We talked about our future together and Sam had already bought a new, bigger car. He would do anything for anyone.
"I still have bad dreams now and wake up early in the morning when Sam would normally be getting up for work.
Abdi Shidane, of Crest Gardens, Ruislip, Middlesex was sentenced to 12-and-a-half-years for manslaughter and two counts of robbery that will run concurrently.
Ide Faysal, of Poplar Place, Hayes, Middlesex was sentenced to 15 years for manslaughter with three counts of robbery and having possession of a bladed article running concurrently.
Both will begin their imprisonment in a young offenders institute.