Schoolgirl, 13, wept in court as she confronted her father's killers

Schoolgirl, 13, wept in court as she confronted her father’s killers after they battered him to death following bitter five-year feud

  •  Warrren Burns, 37, died in a revenge beating after refusing to testify in a trial

A 13 year old schoolgirl wept in court as she confronted her father’s killers after they battered him to death, following a bitter five-year feud. 

Libby Burns bravely came face-to-face with killers Ryan White, 29, and his uncle Damian White, 33, at Manchester Crown Court today, as she went into the witness box to give a harrowing victim personal statement. 

The teenager’s father Warrren Burns, 37, was kicked, stamped on and punched in his own home in Withington, Manchester after being terrorised and intimidated by another family who held a grudge against him, after he refused to testify as a witness in a murder trial over the killing of White’s brother. 

Libby told the two thugs: ‘My dad was taken from me and no 13 year old girl should really know how to put this situation into words.

‘I want you to imagine being 13 years old and having your mentality destroyed and to then have this labelled as grief.’

Libby told the two thugs that her dad was ‘taken’ from her and ‘no 13 year old girl should really know how to put this situation into words’ (Pictured: Warren Burns with his daughter Libby)

Mr Burns was so scared for his safety he refused to watch Libby perform in school productions and moved away from his neighbourhood in the hope of escape, turning to alcohol to cope with his fears. 

Last May, the father of two was at home in bed when his unsuspecting girlfriend unwittingly let in the killers in after they tracked him down and knocked on his front door.

She could only watch in horror as the gang ran upstairs calling for Mr Burns before ‘sickening thuds’ were heard coming from his bedroom. 

Mr Burns, who was described as a ‘gentle giant’, suffered multiple fatal injuries in the six minute revenge beating and died three days later in hospital.

Ryan White, from Fallowfield was jailed for life with a minimum term of 17 years after he was convicted of murder and his uncle Damian White was jailed for 11 years after being convicted of manslaughter.

Ryan’s cousin Brandon White, 21, who was present at the scene of the beating was cleared of murder and manslaughter at an earlier hearing.

Libby told the court: ‘My dad was harassed, this ruined his life and it was upsetting for me to watch. Even though I was little girl then, I knew something was wrong.

‘My dad had to move away from Fallowfield because he was so scared and he wouldn’t even come to my primary school performances. I remember being up on stage looking for my dad but he was too scared to come for fear of someone coming for him.

Mr Burns, who was described as a ‘gentle giant’, suffered multiple fatal injuries in the six minute revenge beating and died three days later in hospital

‘He would drink alcohol simply to drown out of his head the voices of those threatening him and he would struggle to get out of bed.

‘Imagine me as a child seeing my dad rocking back and forth on my bed and crying for my mum because all he could hear was the voices of those he was most frightened of. At times I just thought he forgot he had a daughter and blamed him for his drinking – but I now realise he was busy dealing with how he was feeling because he was so scared.

‘I now lie in bed at night questioning my life and my dad’s life which was made hell. The people who have done this have destroyed everything that was good for me. Its sad to say but I’m, glad he is not living in fear anymore and looking over his shoulder all the time.

‘I sometimes imagine what my dad saw and must have felt in those last few minutes before he was killed. I ask myself ‘did he cry’, ‘did he beg for mercy’. Whatever happened in those last few moments those people did not care and did not stop.

‘I want the people who did this to know how much they caused hurt to me and everyone around my dad. I will never let my dad be forgotten.’

Libby Burns bravely came face-to-face with killers Ryan White, 29, and his uncle Damian White, 33, at Manchester Crown Court today

Mr Burns’ killing arose out of him being a witness to the death of Ryan White’s brother Noel White who was killed in a fight outside the Indigo bar in Rusholme, Manchester in June 2018.

Father of one Noel, 28, of Withington, Manchester, was knocked out ‘cold’ in the 2am brawl which split his bowel in two and left him with fractures to his jaw, voice box and two ribs. He was taken home by friends despite an ambulance being called but he collapsed later that evening and died an hour later in hospital.

Eye witnesses said in the run up the tragedy Noel had been making unwanted advances towards a woman, exposed himself to a barman and challenged other pub goers to fight with him at random.

Hedley Plummer, 37, was charged with murder but was cleared in December 2018 after claiming he acted in self defence. The court heard Mr Burns who was with Noel on the night of the fight gave a witness statement to police but was said to be ‘reluctant’ to give evidence against Plummer and was not called to testify.

Prosecutor Nick Lumley KC said the White family ‘cut ties’ with Mr Burns as a result and added: ‘The White family clearly felt that Warren Burns had not done enough to protect Noel and perhaps, should have done better in helping him.

‘That that may well have given rise to a grudge of sorts that rumbled away in the background for years. But the fact is Warren Burns had done nothing to deserve the severe beating that he was to receive. he was outnumbered and defenceless. It was a very one-sided affair.’

Six weeks before Mr Burns’ death a member of the White family was said to have given him ‘a dirty look’ in one incident and there was further flare up at a music festival. Eventually on May 21 this year Damian recruited Ryan and Damian to travel in convoy by car to Burns’ home.

Mr Lumley added: ‘Warren was at home with his partner, Lucille and their ten week old son. She answered a knock at the door to find three men had called round to see Warren. But it was not a social or friendly visit.

‘She heard the men calling for Warren but then heard thuds which were the sound of him being killed. Terrified for the safety of her baby, she ran from the house into the back garden and called the police.

‘A neighbour saw the front door open, went upstairs and found a very, very badly injured Warren in his bedroom. His life could not be saved. It seems one or more people had been standing on the bed at the time of the attack and there was no evidence to suggest Warren had been upright during the assault on him.’

Ryan White denied murder claiming he was next door at the time of the killing. Damian, of Northern Moor, Manchester said he was involved in a fight with Burns but denied any intention to kill. Brandon, of Fallowfield, Manchester said he had only gone to the property to ‘talk’ to Burns and was not involved in any unlawful violence.

Sentencing Judge Elizabeth Nicholls said the attack was ‘unfathomable rough justice’ upon Mr Burns and added: ‘It was an eruption of anger, bitterness and resentment that had built up over the years after Noel’s death.’

She added: ‘There have now been violent deaths in both families, the consequences of which are still rippling through. It is time all parties look to the future for the sake of people like Libby and reflect on the immense sorrow and tragic consequences this ill-fated feud has brought on your families. Everyone’s life has been affected and many ruined. The hostilities must stop here.

‘Whilst no-one expects you to be friends or respect each other, revenge, violence or retribution will solve nothing and can only bring devastation.’

Earlier the judge thanked Libby for her statement and added: ‘I’m very grateful that you have been able to find the strength and courage to come into court. I’m sure your father would have been very proud of the way you displayed that courage in coming here today.

‘I have no doubt your life at the moment is dominated by the manner of your father’s death and this court case but I hope with time you will be able to remember not the manner of your father’s death – but the happy memories of him.

‘That is what he would want you to do as you doubt go onto become as its obvious that you are, a very proud and dignified young lady.

‘I’m sincerely for sorry for your loss you have the condolences of the court. Please do not allow yourself to remain a victim – grow beyond this and good luck with your future.’

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