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  1. ITV Report

Teenagers jailed for killing man by throwing flare in his car

  • Click to watch a video report by ITV News Anglia's Hannah Pettifer

Two teenagers who killed a "superhero daddy" by throwing a lit flare into his car as he slept inside it at Pitsea near Basildon in Essex have been jailed.

During the hearing the family of one defendant hurled abuse at the sentencing judge.

Father-of-three Vilson Meshi, 31, was asleep in the back of his Audi outside his former partner's house in February 2016. He was to visit two of his children the next morning.

Keani Hobbs, 18, and a 16-year-old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons, were both found guilty of manslaughter and theft of marine distress flares from a docked boat at an earlier trial. They were sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court to nine years in prison and six years in youth custody respectively.

Keani Hobbs, 18, and a 16-year-old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons, were both found guilty of manslaughter. Credit: Essex Police

Judge Patricia Lynch said the teenagers' actions had been "for fun" and said the defendants were "both equally culpable in this case".

She said the 16-year-old took Hobbs to the car "knowing what was going to be done", and that Hobbs's part was "igniting the flare and throwing it into the car".

"Neither of you realised the man was going to die, but you must have realised it would have caused harm," she said.<

"Your actions were reckless, they were stupid and they were dangerous.

"The whole reckless enterprise was on the basis that it would be fun to throw a lighted flare into a vehicle where a man was asleep in the back."

– Judge Patricia Lynch
Vilson Meshi, 31, was asleep in the back of his Audi in Pitsea when the flare was thrown in. Credit: Essex Police

Mr Meshi, who rented a flat in Glossop, Derbyshire, had parked his car in Pincey Mead in Pitsea, where he had arranged to visit his children the next day, when the flare was thrown into his vehicle.

Mr Meshi's former partner, Michelle Mehtab, said in a victim personal statement that he was a "doting father" and regularly travelled to see their two children.

"Nothing or no-one can replace their superhero daddy in their eyes," she said.

Keani Hobbs, who wore a parka jacket with a large fluffy hood, sobbed as she was led to the cells and shouted "I love you" to family in the public gallery.

Hobbs, of Stagden Cross, Pitsea, Essex, was jailed for nine years for manslaughter and 12 months concurrently for theft.

The 16-year-old, of Camberwell, London, was jailed for six years for manslaughter, with 12 months to run concurrently for theft.

Vilson Meshi was described as a 'doting father' and a 'superhero daddy'. Credit: Essex Police

"I believe the correct verdicts have been given in this case. The defendants acted recklessly and were it not for their thoughtless actions, Vilson would not have needlessly died. “I want to thank his family for working with us during this very difficult time and pay tribute to them for their dignity and restraint.

“While nothing will bring Vilson back, I hope these convictions and sentences are of some comfort to them and they can move forward to start rebuilding their lives.”

– Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Jennings, Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate