'callous' | 

Women who filmed torture of Irish teen before he died in Australia sentenced

During the attack, Mr English and his friend were threatened with a knife, forced to undress, assaulted, robbed, degraded and tortured

Cian English

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

One of two women who filmed the torture of Irish backpacker Cian English before he fell to his death from a balcony after being assaulted in Australia has said she is haunted by what she did.

The two, who were just 16 at the time of the attack, have spent less than a fortnight behind bars for their role in the death of the 19-year-old.

English, who was originally from Carlow but lived in the Brisbane suburb of Hawthorne, was on a weekend getaway at Surfers Paradise in 2020 when he and a friend were confronted by three men who falsely accused them of stealing prescription medication.

Lachlan Paul Soper-Lagas, Hayden Paul Kratzmann and Jason Ryan Knowles pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 19-year-old Cian English in Brisbane's Supreme Court.

Last September, Kratzmann and Knowles were sentenced to nine-and-a-half years behind bars while Soper-Lagas was sentenced to eight years due to varying degrees of culpability.

During the attack, Mr English and his friend were threatened with a knife, forced to undress, assaulted, robbed, degraded and tortured.

Some of the 27-minute ordeal was filmed by two women who are now 19 and 20 years old.

The Supreme Court in Brisbane heard one of the women filmed the moment she forced Mr English to clean his blood from the floor and captioned the video "the bad b**** I am, making this c*** clean his own blood up".

The other woman also filmed the scene from the balcony after Mr English fell to his death.

"They knew he was critically injured on the ground, but they fled the unit," prosecutor Caroline Marco said, according to local media.

The court heard the girls posted the videos to social media after the attack, and the group argued over who would keep clothing stolen from the teenagers.

"After these events, you weren't shocked to your senses. You posted videos to your social media accounts," Justice Peter Applegarth said.

"Labels don't really help; callous and selfish come to mind.

"How is that anything other than cruel? It certainly doesn't show remorse after the events."

In her impact statement, Mr English's mother Siobhan English said every time she thinks of the way her son died "it destroys a little bit of me".

"Waking up every morning and praying and hoping it was all a horrible nightmare, only to be brought back to reality every day, the gut-wrenching pain and torture, again and again and again,” she said, according to ABC News in Australia.

"An entire generation [of my family] has been haunted forever," she said.

Justice Applegarth said the women endorsed the actions of the men by filming and encouraging them.

"Had you not picked up your phone and recorded this, the events would have been the same," he said.

"But the violent, brutal, egotistical offenders didn't need any encouragement."

The defence barrister for one of the women, Martin Longhurst, described his client's actions as "shocking and disgraceful" but said she was remorseful, and had read "every page of the victim impact statement".

The court heard both women had difficult upbringings and had tried to turn their lives around since Mr English's death.

In an apology to the English family, one of the women said she "would never forgive herself" and was "haunted by what [she] did".

Both women pleaded guilty to one count each of torture, and two counts each of armed robbery.

They were given a two-year probation order, and a conviction was not recorded.'

In sentencing the three men at an earlier court hearing, Chief Justice Helen Bowskill said it was an "absolutely tragic case".

"Your appalling criminal conduct resulted in the death of one young man, Cian English, very much loved by family and friends, causing unfathomable grief and pain, compounded by the circumstances in which he died," she said.

Justice Bowskill said a particularly "abhorrent" part of the offence was that it was filmed and shared to social media.

"It would have been terrifying. Your conduct, which was not fleeting or brief, was despicable because of the performative element."

The men's behaviour after Mr English had fled to the balcony and fallen four floors to his death was described by Justice Bowskill as "callous and despicable", as they continued to film.

"You did nothing to help him or call for help. You fled."

Kratzmann and Soper-Lagas who even wore items of Mr English's clothes took photos which were circulated on social media after the attack.

Kratzmann eventually called an emergency number half an hour after Mr English fell but gave them the wrong address.

Soper-Lagas's defence lawyer said his client had "expressed genuine remorse".

"He doesn't really possess the words to describe the sorry he feels for [the English family].

"The last thing he sees at night being the face of Mr English … and the first thing in the morning."

Knowles's lawyer said in a near four-hour interview with a psychologist, his client had detailed how "ashamed" he was.

"He understood and had empathy for the deceased's family, who will have to live without their son, and became teary in the course of the interview.

"He indicated to the psychologist that he now has to live with the events of that particular evening, and the consequences ... [and knows] that's not as bad as what the victim's family would be going through.

"He is disgusted with what happened. He has little memory of the [incident].

"He just can't bring himself to think about it again."

The Irish teenager was living with his parents Siobhan and Vinny and older brother Dylan. The family left Ireland 20 years ago, first to the Caribbean where Cian’s father worked for Digicel and then settled in Brisbane in 2011.

His ashes were laid to rest in St Mary’s Cemetery, Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow several weeks after his death.

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