Six men have been convicted of killing a young dad in an unprovoked attack outside a Wetherspoon pub.
Reece Cox, 24, died after he was set upon at a taxi rank near The Clifton in Sedgley, West Midlands, on August 15 last year.
Father-of-one Mr Cox had been on a night out with friends when he was attacked shortly before midnight while going to get food.
Shane Jones, Wayne Burke, Shaquel Halliday, Adam Ashwin, and Sebastian Jones, were all found guilty of murder at Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday.
Ryan Nickin was acquitted of murder and found guilty of manslaughter.
The jury heard how Two people that Mr Cox had met that night set off towards a taxi rank when one of them accidentally bumped into teenager Joe Williams.
The gang then attacked one of the men, with Ashwin dragging him into the road and back towards The Clifton.
Mr Cox – described as a man “who would always step in to help if he didn’t like what he saw” – tried to help.
Ashwin and his friends then turned their attention to Mr Cox and violently beat him to death on Ettymore Road.
A post-mortem examination revealed that Mr Cox died from blunt trauma to his head.
A jury took just five-and-a-half hours to reach its guilty verdicts.
Paying tribute, Mr Cox’s family said: “Reece was a gentle giant.
“Never aggressive but would step up and front anything that wasn’t right. He would always go out of his way to help others.
“Reece’s partner and son have had their whole future as a family taken away from them.
“On the day he died, it was the couple’s six year anniversary of when they first met and what would and should have been a happy and special day, but now it will be a sad and permanent reminder of his horrific and senseless killing year after year.
“Reece and his son had an amazing bond and he is our constant reminder of Reece. It has broken our hearts to see the torment he has had to go through, losing his dad at the age of four.
“Reece was a hero that night and lost his life saving someone else’s.
“We still cannot believe he has gone and think about him every single day.”
Shane Jones, 26, Burke, 23, Halliday, 22, Sebastian Jones, 19, and Nickin, 22, were also found guilty of violent disorder and causing actual bodily harm.
Ashwin, 20, pleaded guilty to the same charges.
Tyrone Halliday, 24, pleaded guilty to affray and Williams, 18, pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm.
Detective Inspector Laura Harrison, from West Midlands Police’s Homicide Team, said: “What is so upsetting about what happened to Reece is that anyone could have been him that night.
“He was simply on a night out with friends and tried to intervene in a fight that cost him his life.
“Reece was an innocent member of the public who wasn’t out to cause trouble, he simply wanted to enjoy a night out.
“These six men were out looking for a fight that night and an accidental knock as someone walked past them is all it took to set them off.
“I can’t imagine what Reece’s family are going through in what has been a difficult year for all, let alone a family who had their son,
father and partner taken away from them so cruelly.
“Although no sentence will ever bring Reece back, I hope they can gain some closure from this knowing that those that caused Reece’s death have been brought to justice.”