Police say that 24-year-old student Bill Henham was beaten unconscious and dropped into a recessed courtyard, within a disused building in North Street on January 1 2020.
He suffered extensive injuries, having been savagely beaten, kicked, stamped on and struck with a wooden bannister spindle.
Dushane Meikle, 28, of Amberley Drive, Hove; Gregory Hawley, 29, of no fixed address; Lamech Gordon-Carew, 20, of Cheeseman Close, Hampton, Middlesex and 19-year-old Alize Spence, of Academy Gardens, Croydon, were convicted on February 24 following a 10-week trial at Maidstone Crown Court. They had all denied murdering Bill.
At Hove Crown Court today (Friday May 20), all four were sentenced to life imprisonment, with Hawley and Meikle to serve a minimum 25 years, and Gordon-Carew and Spence to serve a minimum 18 years.
The court had earlier heard how police were called to the disused four-storey building, a former office block with bar and restaurant, after receiving information on January 2 that a man had been beaten and dropped off a balcony during a party at the location, which was being used as a squat.
Officers attended and discovered Bill Henham’s body in a recessed courtyard, accessed from a flat roof terrace at the rear of the building.
He had been beaten unconscious and suffered multiple injuries, including brain haemorrhage, eleven rib fractures, extensive cuts and bruising to the scalp, face, and neck.
Detectives established that Bill, who studied at Ravensbourne University in London, had spent Christmas with his family in Henfield but wanted to see in the New Year in a ‘lively’ atmosphere in Brighton.
A police spokesperson said: “Tragically, it appears that Bill was killed within a few hours of going to the party."
Police quickly arrested four men and a 16-year-old boy , acting on information received from witnesses at the party. Forensic information linked the four with Bill’s death.
In a statement issued after the four were found guilty of Bill’s murder, his family said: “ It is hard to describe the horror of losing a family member to murder, especially in such a brutal and needless way. We cannot fathom as to why anyone would inflict such cruelty on someone so helpless.”
They added: “He was a kind and peaceful young man; a free spirit who happily chatted to those he came across. We can well imagine, in his impaired and vulnerable condition that night, he was drawn towards the squat party and went into the North Street building not understanding the danger he was putting himself in."
They said they were angry at what the four had done but were “grateful for the justice they will receive.
"Sadly however, no sentence will give us Bill back and more importantly it won’t give him the chance to make his mark on the world and follow his dreams in a way that we all strive to do.”