Family from hell attacked couple in their own home 'like a feral pack'
THREE sisters and two brothers acted like a "feral pack" when they attacked a family in their own home, a court heard.
Members of the Richards clan punched and kicked the couple and grabbed their teenage son by the hair, Plymouth Crown Court was told.
One brother threw a brick through the front window in what a judge called a revenge attack, as a neighbourhood dispute turned to violence in Southway.
Victim Dean Mewton, who was left with a double fracture to the jaw, last night branded the quintet "the family from hell".
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Wife Kirstine, who suffered severe bruising to her face in the attack, added: "They could have killed us and left our kids without a mum and dad."
Judge Paul Darlow, handing the siblings a mixture of suspended prison sentences, unpaid work and curfews, said: "This was an attack in which the Richards behaved as a feral pack."
He said 20-year-old Joseph Richards started the attack when he threw a brick through the window of the home in Alger Walk on November 17, 2010.
Judge Darlow said when Mrs Mewton remonstrated with Richards, she was attacked by three members of the family.
"As a result of this she was knocked to the ground and there was a kick by a male to her chest," he added.
"There was a point at which Dean Mewton was on the ground, utterly defenceless, being punched and kicked by three males.
"Their son and their neighbours also received injuries, though fortunately not as serious."
Joseph Richards, of King Street in Stonehouse, Lianne Richards, 32 and from Alger Walk, Toni Richards, 21, Bethany Richards, 20, and 17-year-old Matthew Richards, all of Budshead Road, each admitted violent disorder at their trial in August.
A third man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also admitted the same offence.
Judge Darlow said there had been "bad blood" between the neighbouring families of Lianne Richards and the Mewtons.
The trial jury heard that she told Mrs Mewton: "This is for what you done in August – you ruined our lives."
The Crown Prosecution Service said the family was gathered at Lianne Richards' house for her 31st birthday party.
Judge Darlow said Joseph Richards, who was the "ringleader", faced an almost certain jail term, but his sentence was delayed until October 15 because his probation report was not ready.
He told the three sisters they had launched a "sustained attack" on Mrs Mewton.
Lianne Richards was given a 26-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work.
Bethany Richards was told she also grabbed son Ashley Mewton, 15 at the time, by the hair.
She was given a 12-month community order with 150 hours unpaid work and a three-month curfew between 8pm and 6am, seven days a week.
Judge Darlow gave Toni Richards a 26-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, with a Female Offender Specified Activity Requirement.
She must also observe a curfew between 10am and 2pm and from 7pm to 3am every day for the next six months.
Judge Darlow said Matthew Richards had "central involvement, including kicking, it seems, to Kirstine and Dean Mewton on the ground". He gave him a 12-month youth rehabilitation order with a curfew from 10am until 2pm and between 7am and 3am on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for three months.
The third man, who cannot be named, was also blamed for kicking Dean Mewton on the ground.
He was handed a 40-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 200 hours unpaid work and the Probation Service's low intensity alcohol programme.
All defendants, save for Lianne, were given restraining orders prohibiting them from the streets around Alger Walk.
The order lasts for five years, except for Matthew, whose order lasts two years.
Ali Rafati, for Lianne Richards, said the mother-of-four was trying to move home, away from the Mewton family.
Jason Beal, for Bethany Richards, said she accepted her behaviour was wrong and was doing voluntary work.
Malcolm Clarke, for Toni Richards, said she was receiving counselling and had "issues with depression".
Nick Lewin, for Matthew Richards, said he was 15 at the time and was most likely to have been misguided in behaving how he did out of family loyalty.
THEY COULD HAVE KILLED US
THE couple who survived the Richards' violent attack have spoken out about their run-in with the "family from hell".
Dean and Kirstine Mewton were both badly injured when five siblings stormed into their Southway home.
The couple's son Ashley, who was then 15, was also targeted as a neighbourly dispute turned violent.
Outside court, Mr Mewton said: "Because we stood up to them it escalated – and one of us could've been killed from what they did. There were five of them kicking me.
"If it wasn't for my neighbours coming to help us that night, I don't know what would've happened to us.
"There could have been a death if the neighbours had not intervened."
Mr Mewton added that he was off work for six weeks and could have lost his job but for the support from his employers, Princess Yachts.
He said Ashley, now 17, had suffered from stress – though he had overcome the trauma to earn an apprenticeship.
But Mr Mewton welcomed the sentence, particularly the restraining order which should keep most of the Richards family away from his address.
"Ten or 20 years would not have been enough in some ways. They're the family from hell to everyone in the area.
"They think they're above the law – but they're not.
Mrs Mewton said: "They could have killed us. "They could have left our children without a mother or father."