An unemployed man has been jailed for life and another for nine years after they formed part of a "vigilante'' group which carried out a deadly attack on a crack addict, who had burgled a flat in a Wednesfield tower block.
Fuelled by drink and drugs, Michael Joyce, and Lee Gannon, took the law into their own hands when they viciously beat the 37-year-old victim who died after being found unconscious in the tower block lift.
Mr Justice Foskett ruled that Joyce, 21, who had previously convicted of murder by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court and who was given the life term, must serve a minimum of 13 years in prison before he can be considered for release.
Gannon, 25, who had been found guilty of manslaughter, was given the nine-year sentence.
Both men lived in Wodensfield Tower, Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, where the attack took place in March last year.
In passing sentence, the judge said of the victim: "Alan Harris was a crack addict who fed his addiction by dishonesty. He stole to pay his way. To some it may not have been much of a life but it was a life. He loved his family and they loved him.''
He said what he did was mean and that he deserved to be dealt with by the courts.
But went on: "Justice is for the courts and not for an impromptu vigilante group.''
Addressing Gannon, whose 15th floor flat Mr Harris had burgled, he said: There is no doubt you were provoked by what you discovered and you were right to be extremely angry. However, the plain fact is you lost your rag and were the first in the group to inflict violence on him.''
And to Joyce, he said: "I accept you did not intend to kill him but fuelled by the significant quantities of drugs and drink you had consumed and out of a misguided sense of loyalty to Gannon, you went well over the top.''
He said that Mr Harris had been defenceless in the face of a sustained group attack in which Joyce had played a leading part.
He added that the victim had been kicked and stamped on and roughly manhandled in what must have been a terrifying and intensely painful episode''.
The court had heard previously that Mr Harris had "trashed'' Gannon's flat taking items including a DVD player, DVDs, a TV and a bed which he then tried to sell to another man in the block.
He made a number of trips to and from the flat but on his final visit, was caught by Gannon and two others.
Christopher Hotten QC, prosecuting, said more people, including Joyce who was holding a party in his flat, were told about what had happened and that Mr Harris was then subjected to a violent beating which left him with injuries including broken ribs and a serious skull fracture.
During the attack, attempts were made to recover the property he had stolen, Mr Harris was dragged down the stairs.
Richard Benson QC for Joyce, said: "This is one of those tragic examples of young men without proper direction and without jobs.''
He said by the time Joyce had come onto the scene, much damage had already been inflicted on the victim.