Four men have been jailed following the death of Craig Robins, who passed away 13 years after being assaulted in Hednesford.
Gavin Brown, 37, a serving prisoner at HMP Lancaster Farm, was sentenced to a minimum of 16 years and two months’ imprisonment for murder at Stafford Crown Court today (Friday 3 December) after pleading guilty in June this year. However, as he has already served 15 years in prison, he will serve an additional 14 months in jail before he is eligible for parole.
The sentences for all four men reflect time they already served when sentenced in 2007.
James Ainsley Milligan, 41, of Canford Place, Hednesford Road, Cannock, admitted manslaughter in September. He was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.
Bernie Peter Smith, 31, of Rowley Close, Hednesford, and Kyle Neil Smith, 33, of Pebble Drive, Blackfords, Cannock, were found guilty of manslaughter on 5 October following a trial. They were sentenced to two years and six months’ and four years and seven months’ imprisonment respectively.
At approximately 9.20pm on Monday 30 October 2006, Craig Robins, aged 27, was seriously assaulted while sat in the driver’s seat of his car on Lomax Road, Hednesford. Following a collision nine years before, Craig was paralysed from the chest down and his wheelchair was in the back of his car.
He received stab wounds to his face and neck wounds. One of the stab wounds had fractured his skull and caused a substantial brain injury. Due to the blood loss and lack of oxygen, he never regained consciousness and his parents cared for him at their home.
In 2007, the four men were convicted for being involved in the assault – Gavin Brown, aged 22 at the time, James Milligan, aged 26 at the time, Bernie Smith, aged 15 at the time and Kyle Smith, aged 18 at the time.
Craig never regained consciousness, entering a coma after the attack and he sadly died on 18 March 2019, aged 40. All four men were charged in February 2021.
In a statement, Craig’s family said: “Our disabled son Craig was viciously attacked on the evening of 30 October 2006.
“Because of what they did, we lost our son twice, the initial attack when they took everything away from him, (we grieved for the life he had built himself as an independent, sporting paraplegic) and then again 13 years later when he finally lost his battle for life.
“Because of his severe injuries, our family lived for 13 years in lockdown before Covid existed to protect him from infection. No sentence can take away the pain and suffering Craig and his family endured.
“Our comfort is that he was loved and nursed at home by his devoted family to the very end.
“We would like to thank Staffordshire Police and our legal team for their hard work, perseverance and emotional support through these past traumatic years and we are grateful that they fought so hard to get the convictions and custodial sentences to remove these people off the streets hopefully protecting others.”
Detective Sergeant Katie Gregory, of the force’s Major Investigations Department, said: “It is testament to Craig’s committed family that he survived for many years following this attack, as a result of their round-the-clock care.
“They have now had to re-live the events of that night during a second trial. However, it was important that those responsible faced the full consequences of their actions which ultimately led to Craig’s tragic death.”