CONVICTED of murder at the age of just 17, Alex Young already had a string of court appearances to his name and had been expelled from school for attacking a fellow pupil.

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Lewis Hayward

CONVICTED of murder at the age of just 17, Alex Young already had a string of court appearances to his name and had been expelled from school for attacking a fellow pupil.

Five weeks before he went into custody he had begun working part-time for a flat roofing firm, a job which was arranged for him by his grandfather.

Prior to that he spent his time “drinking and going to the gym once or twice a week” he said while giving evidence.

Young's first conviction was for common assault in October 2005 followed by affray in September the following year - which followed an incident when he got drunk on his 16th birthday and threatened some friends with a knife.

In May 2007, he was stopped by police while carrying a knife and was charged with possession of a bladed article - just days later he murdered Helen Maughan.

The following month he was in court to admit burgling Colchester Royal Grammar School with Lewis Hayward and stealing laptops.

In July he threatened a woman in Colchester, telling her he would “rape her and slice her up”.

He was in custody when he was questioned by police about Miss Maughan's murder after being identified from CCTV footage.

Young, who enjoyed martial arts and kickboxing before giving it up due to injury, said he would drink as much as he could until he could not stand up during an alcohol binge.

His drinking sessions, often with Hayward, would begin at around noon and last until about 2am, or on occasion until 6am.

A teenage witness told the court that he was with Young when he “approached a random guy and said hand over your phone or I am going to kill you”

The witness added: “He just starts on random people and takes their phones, fags and money - a couple of times I have been with him he's done it.”

A female witness told how he had talked about knowing who had killed Helen Maughan and said she had been raped before she died.

Young claimed Miss Maughan had then been made to stand on the top floor ledge of the multi-story car park alongside the river and pushed off but landed in the water instead of on the pavement.

LEWIS Hayward was 13 at the time of Helen Maughan's death but had already been expelled from school for violent and disruptive behaviour and had a conviction for burglary.

Known by local children as “Spandex” - apparently a reference to a cheap brand of clothing because of his scruffy appearance - Hayward was described as a heavy drinker who always had a drawstring bag full of lager with him.

One witness told police how Hayward had been drinking alcohol since his 12th birthday when “he came home absolutely wrecked and fell asleep in the middle of the road”.

The teenager, who also gave evidence at the trial, said Hayward was “quite aggressive when he's drunk and quite a lot of people are afraid of him - he is drunk most of the time.

“He is well violent and gets angry for no reason. When he gets money he just gets wrecked,” he said.

The same witness also described how Hayward had broken his nose by pushing him face down on the floor and stamping on the back of his head five times.

After his conviction yesterday, the court heard how the now 14-year-old had “thrived” during his time on remand after he was charged with murder.

He had been doing some GCSE exams as the jury was considering its verdict, said his defence barrister, John Dodds QC.

Hayward was said to be a big Colchester United and Liverpool United fan with “an amazing knowledge of the teams going back quite some time”.

Hayward and Young barely exchanged a glance as the four-and-a-half week trial played out but Young had earlier described his co-defendant as “one of my best friends” but also described him as “dumb.”

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