Published: 15:00, 16 January 2018
Two thugs have been jailed for life for the "senseless" murder of a homeless Romanian man living rough at a beauty spot.
Charlie White, 19, will have to serve a minimum of 16 years before being considered for parole, while Alex Macdonald, also 19, will have to serve at least 18 years.
Macdonald became aggressive and attacked dock officers as they attempted to take him to the cells.
One officer was knocked to the ground, but the judge was told he was not seriously hurt.
Judge Jeremy Carey remained in court as the violence erupted, and victim Razvan Sirbu's mother wept as she sat in the public gallery.
Passing sentence, Judge Carey said: “You set about him in a vicious and senseless joint attack. You, Charlie White, had with you a meat cleaver. You, Alex Macdonald, had a heavy piece of wood in your hand as a weapon.”
White and Macdonald were convicted on Friday of murdering Razvan Sirbu after coming across him late at night in the Loose Valley Conservation Area.
“You set about him in a vicious and senseless joint attack" - Judge Jeremy Carey to White and Macdonald
The unanimous verdicts were returned on Friday in their absence after they refused to leave prison. All three appeared in the dock today for sentencing.
The jury also found that 20-year-old Jimmy Buckley, who was deemed unfit to plead to murder, “did the act”.
He will be sentenced at a later date.
Macdonald, of Regency Place, White, previously of Quarry Road, both Maidstone, and Buckley, of Capell Close, Coxheath, all denied the charge.
Maidstone Crown Court heard the three had gone out on the evening of May 6 to steal a lawnmower when they attacked Mr Sirbu with a blunt meat cleaver while he was sleeping rough in a tent.
The 21-year-old’s body was found at 7.15am the following day.
A post-mortem examination found he died from “blunt force trauma” to the head and body.
The court heard Mr Sirbu, who previously lived in Gravesend, had been sleeping rough in a residential area in Tovil since April 24 last year.
He obtained a tent from a homeless charity about a week later and pitched it in the conservation area.
His body, clothed apart from shoes,was discovered the next morning, May 7, by a dog walker.
A wooden chair leg he was thought to have for protection was between his legs.
A forensic scientist gave the cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head and torso. There were multiple skull fractures, multiple facial bone fractures and other injuries, including broken ribs.
A neuropathologist who examined Mr Sirbu’s brain believed he would only have survived for about 30 minutes.
Judge Jeremy Carey called the murder “a shameful, senseless act of mindless brutality”.
In a moving statement read to the court, Mr Sirbu's mother spoke of the devastating impact of his death.
During the trial it was revealed that White tattooed a teardrop - which can signify a killer - under Macdonald’s left eye while on remand in prison.
Macdonald denied in evidence it meant having such a tattoo indicated being a killer.
“It means a lot of things - that you have lost someone in your family or someone special to you,” Macdonald explained.
Judge Jeremy Carey told the jury of eight women and four men following conviction: “These defendants have been convicted of murder on what I judge, and you plainly judge, as the clearest evidence.
“It was a shameful, senseless act of mindless brutality which ended in death and leaves in its wake a grieving mother and the community in and around Maidstone, who as right-minded and law-abiding people, will have a deep and abiding sense of horror and regret that such an event could have occurred in their town.
“I include in that category those good people who did their best to help him in the days before his murder when living rough in Maidstone.
“For you, it was no doubt an often gruelling experience. You have had to listen to evidence you would not have wished to see.
"You will have in your minds, no doubt for a long time the events and the narrative you have listened to day by day.”
"The violence was gratuitous and without any provocation and this murder has robbed a young man of his life and also devastated the lives of his loved ones" - DCI Tony Pledger
Speaking after sentencing, Det Chief Insp Tony Pledger said: "Razvan Sirbu was set upon and attacked in the most appalling and cowardly way, subjected to multiple blows over a prolonged period, leaving him with devastating injuries to his both his head and body.
"Whilst our investigation has proved beyond any doubt the involvement of all three men in this case, the reasons behind the attack remain unclear.
"The violence was gratuitous and without any provocation and this murder has robbed a young man of his life and also devastated the lives of his loved ones."