A MAN who was jailed for the manslaughter of much-loved poet Len Saunders in 2017 has been recalled to prison after breaching his licence conditions.

Luke Woods, who admitted to a "needless and vicious" attack which caused the death of well-known Len was sentenced to four years and four months in August 2017 at Liverpool Crown Court.

Woods, of Union Street, St Helens was 17 at the time of the attack and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He was handed the sentence which he served in a youth offenders' institute.

Merseyside Police have confirmed that, following Woods' release on licence, he has been sent back to prison after breaching conditions.

Woods, now, 20, had been arrested over the breach on Sunday, September 6.

A police statement said: "We can confirm that a St Helens man has been recalled to prison after being arrested earlier this month.

"A prison recall was issued for 20-year-old Luke Woods after he breached the terms of his licence for manslaughter.

"Woods was arrested on Sunday, September 6 and returned to custody to serve the remainder of his licence.

"Woods was sentenced to four years and four months in a young offenders’ institute for the manslaughter of 65-year-old Len Saunders in St Helens in 2017."

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Len, a community volunteer and a popular figure among the St Helens arts scene, died in hospital on Sunday, July 30 – nine days after he was attacked on Ward Street because he did not give the drunken yob a cigarette.

Len, 65, was knocked unconscious after Woods, who had also taken drugs, punched him in the face knocking him to the ground where his head hit the ground.

Liverpool Crown Court heard at Woods' sentencing that he had earlier told his friend that he would ask someone for a cigarette and if they did not have one “I’ll hit him.”

Sentencing Woods, Judge Clement Goldstone, QC, the then recorder of Liverpool, said that he would have imposed a longer sentence if he could have.

St Helens Star:

Len Saunders

He said: “Leonard Saunders was a 65-year-old man in the prime of his life. He was a shining yet very modest star with the local St Helens community to which he devoted his life.

"He contributed immeasurably to very many facets of community life.

“He was adored by and adoring of his family. He was a truly popular and much loved man whose passing leaves a huge void in the lives not only of his immediate family but of his wider, by which I mean the entire population of St Helens and those who were lucky enough to have crossed his path.

“You snuffed out his life and created untold sadness and grief to countless people.

“No sentence of this court can or will be seen as doing justice to the mindless violence which you perpetrated against Mr Saunders on the afternoon in question and no sentence of this court can bring him back."

The judge said Woods had not been so drunk as to be unaware that he had knocked out the victim, who had politely told him that he and his friend did not smoke, and then escaped from the scene.

St Helens Star:

Luke Woods

He added: “You have none of the disadvantages and difficulties which beset so many young men who appear before this court.

"No sentence can right the dreadful wrong which you perpetrated and if the court had the power to impose upon you a longer sentence for that which you did it would do so.”

The attack happened while Mr Saunders had been walking home at about 6.40 pm from a project meeting in St Helens town centre with friend Gregory Taylor when they encountered Woods and a 15-year-old boy.

Peter Hussey, prosecuting, said it was a “case of gratuitous unprovoked violence on the street which was also fuelled by alcohol.

He described the attack as "a sudden blow, of what the Crown submits was significant force, into the face of Mr Saunders", adding "the boy described it as needless, and vicious".

Mr Hussey added that Mr Saunders' head landed with "a sound which Mr Taylor described as ‘horrific’ and ‘upsetting’ and the 15-year-old as ‘big, loud’ and ‘scary’."

St Helens Star:

Len was steward at Lucem House Community Cinema

The court heard the 15-year-old described the assault as a swing with the right elbow, dropping his shoulder and striking an upwards blow to his chin.

He told police that the defendant had drunk most of a bottle of vodka and had been violently sick that afternoon and was staggering with his arm around the boy.

After the attack they went to College Street post office where Woods was pestering people for a cigarette.

Woods was arrested at home at about 1am the morning after and was awoken by his mum throwing water over his face as he lay in bed after officers arrived.

He was aggressive and angry, tried to run away and twice tried to head-butt an officer.

He was interviewed that afternoon by which time he had damaged his cell floor and when told he was also being arrested for criminal damage he punched the wall in anger and declined to answer questions.

He was re-arrested after Mr Saunders died and was described as “yawning and laughing” when shown CCTV footage. He gave a prepared statement in which he accepted responsibility for the attack.

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Phil Astbury, defending, said at the 2017 hearing that Woods, who has a conviction and a caution for criminal damage and another caution for having a bladed article, expressed “remorse and regret for his actions".

“He acted in haste and will have a great deal of time to reflect and repent at his leisure.

"He never intended serious harm. It is an act of yobbery but a momentary lapse of control at a time when he was clearly affected by drink.

“He will have to live with this for the rest of his life. He is not a lost cause and has genuine insight and genuine remorse.”

Woods will now serve the remainder of his licence period following the breach.