A SOLDIER has been jailed for six years for carrying out an unprovoked attack which left a teenage boy with severe brain damage, before trying to cover up his crime.
Ashley Dacosta, 20, has been sentenced to six years imprisonment today (30 July) at Hove Crown Court for the vicious attack on teenager Mo Bourner on Bexhill seafront in October 2011 and also for perverting the course of justice.
Dacosta, a soldier based at Victoria Barracks, Windsor, attacked the then 15-year-old Mo, in De La Warr Parade, Bexhill, in the early hours of Saturday 29 October, as he walked home with friends from a beach party.
As a result of a single punch Mo, a former pupil at Ninfield Primary School, fell to the ground, hitting his head on a car and then again on the ground, causing him to suffer severe brain damage.
Dacosta pleaded guilty in June to racially motivated grievous bodily harm against Mo and was found guilty of perverting the course of justice along with Jack Carrick, 25, of Manor Road, Bexhill, on July 26 after an eight day trial at Hove Crown Court.
Carrick, was sentenced today (July 30) to two years imprisonment for perverting the course of justice.
DCI Nick Sloan, who led the investigation, said: “The single punch to Mo Bourner has had devastating consequences.
“Nine months on from this senseless act we hope that the justice laid down will bring some relief to Mo and his family who have been in our thoughts throughout this complex investigation.
“Mo, a vivacious teenager was struck down in an unprovoked attack on his way home from a beach party.
“He has made significant progress but he how lives with serious life changing injuries.
“His courage and that of his parents Peter and Rhama Bourner has been immeasurable as they have encouraged witnesses to come speak up about what happened that night.
“I cannot thank people enough for bravely coming forward to tell us what they saw and heard before, during and after the assault.
“We gave our utmost assurance that the information they gave - in a variety of ways - would be in the strictest confidence.
“One name was given to us repeatedly - that of Ashley Dacosta - and I was heartened that people courageously come forward with the evidence we needed.
“This has truly been a team effort in bringing Ashley Dacosta to justice.”
On sentencing Dacosta, Judge Kemp said: “Nothing I do today will be a comfort to Mo and his family as Mo will never again lead an independent life.
“On the night of the beach party before you delivered the punch that left Mo with catastrophic brain injuries you were seen to be drunk, aggressive and abusive towards other young teenagers.
“Then recordings in your barracks revealed racist and repugnant comments that proved your attack on Mo was racially motivated.”
Mo’s family issued a statement shortly after Dacosta was sentenced.
The family said: “The family and friends of Mo Bourner would like to start off by thanking the tireless hard work of the Major Crime Team of Sussex Police, in particular we wish to thank Detective Chief Inspector Nick Sloan and our Family Liaison Officer Detective Constable Rebecca Bayley, who have been there for us throughout the whole experience.
“Early on we knew that justice in any form could never bring our son back to normal, yet he has defied medical expectations for eight months now, surviving 90 per cent brain damage and two life saving operations.
“With a huge effort from Mo and those around him he continues to improve and shine bright.
“For us this is our justice. Mo’s story has the potential to affect the thinking and actions of others which could stop this sort of violent crime happening again.
“Ashley DaCosta handed our son, Mo, a sentence of pain, frustration and anger for the rest of his life.
“Any length of sentencing seems lenient but our hope is that it will keep Ashley DaCosta from committing such a despicable crime again.
“We are relieved such a dangerous individual is no longer on our streets.”