MERELY days from the first anniversary of a tragic night that changed the lives of a family and rocked a community, the courts of justice have given its final sentence.

In a sentencing hearing held at Truro Crown Court, Her Honour, Ms Justice Cutts heard the final summaries from the legal teams which would have become familiar faces during the near six-week long trial, giving their final pleas for considerations as their clients’ futures lay before the judge.

Jake Hill was convicted of the murder of Michael Riddiough-Allen
Jake Hill was convicted of the murder of Michael Riddiough-Allen (Devon and Cornwall Police)

Before her lay the sentences to be issued to Jake Hill, 25, guilty of murder and wounding with intent alongside 22-year-old Tia Taylor and Chelsea Powell, 23.

Prior to this, it was for the prosecution to state their case, giving details of the prior misdemeanours of Mr Hill, while his representatives countered by describing his previous life to date in an attempt for clemency in a situation where there was no leniency available due to his crimes.

The court heard how, before the fateful night, Hill had previous offences for a range of crimes, in between attempts to rehabilitate. He had previously served three years in a young offender’s institute for an attempted robbery of an individual outside a bank while in possession of an air gun, as well as offences of resisting a constable, arson, false representation for financial gain, sending an offensive communication and possessing an offensive weapon while on bail.

His defence painted a picture of a man who came from a troubled background, growing up in a chaotic home where both parents were substance users, and the presence of drug dealers and raids from rival gangs was a regular occurrence. They also detailed how he had moved to his grandmother’s, which the court heard was a more stable home and someone he had nothing but love and respect for, in addition to a supportive and well influencing wider family including aunts. They added how he had become reconciled with his mother prior to her death in 2020 after a period of estrangement.

Part of the prosecution’s final pitch involved victim statements from the four surviving people injured on the same night Michael Riddiough-Allen lost his life while trying to prevent the carnage primarily ensuing as a result of Mr Hill’s choice to carry and use a hunting knife, in addition to one from his older sister and best friend, Rebecca Dustan.

The court heard how one, Mr Ryan Burger, was lucky to have survived the incident, saved only by the quick responses of security staff at the adjacent nightclub and paramedics, prior to having a nine-hour surgery to prevent the bleeding from a major artery in his leg. Simply, the court heard, the trial could have been about the murder of two individuals had circumstances been different.

Following victim statements described in detail the sufferance of those affected, ranging from financially to psychologically and physically. It was, however, the final victim statement which left rooms full of lumps in the throat, as Mrs Dustan, who has spent most of the year front-and-centre of the family’s response to their loss in the formation of the MIKES Trust, described the impact losing her brother had. A life where a beloved son, brother, uncle and friend would be a void in the key moments of family life, particularly in the lives of his beloved nephews and nieces.

After the legal teams had given their final summaries to Her Honour, a thirty-minute sojourn for lunch was given while she gave consideration to the words which had been stated.

It was upon her return that the final fates of those responsible for the crimes committed in the early hours of April 30 were issued.

Her Honour Ms Justice Cutts during the sentencing of the trio involved in the events leading to Michael Riddiough-Allen's death and the injury of four others
Her Honour Ms Justice Cutts during the sentencing of the trio involved in the events leading to Michael Riddiough-Allen's death and the injury of four others (HM Courts Service)

Jake Hill was given a life sentence, a punishment mandatory for the crime of murder, and will not be considered for parole for a minimum of 28 years, after which if he is released he will spend the rest of his life on licence, which would see a return to jail for the rest of his life should he reoffend.

The judge told those present how she had the view that Michael Riddiough-Allen was a gentle giant, adored by nieces and it was obvious to her that the family have struggled to understand and come to his loss, adding that any sentence cannot bring him back, and his death was life changing and they must always live with that.

Before issuing her sentence, she told Mr Riddiough-Allen’s murderer that in her view, he had not shown a shred of remorse at the time of the initial arrest and had not shown it since. In the long period where evidence was presented, she said, she detected no regret on his part.

Mrs Justice Cutts said she was of the view that Hill carried the knife because he liked the image of a ‘hard man’, adding that in that perception he was wholly misguided. She added that this created the dangerous situation which developed through the choice of Mr Hill to get involved in a fight he was not part of.

For the crimes of manslaughter and perverting the course of justice which she pleaded guilty Miss Taylor was sentenced to two years and four months imprisonment, with an additional eight months to be served consecutively, a total of three years for which she will serve half in prison and half on parole. The judge noted how Miss Taylor’s absence would have an impact on her children, while acknowledging the remorse shown by her and her efforts at redemption while imprisoned.

Miss Powell was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for the charge of perverting the course of justice, which the jury found her guilty, which she must serve half. However, in light of having served over half while in custody, she was released after the trial on licence.

The ‘biggest tragedy’ of the night, as alluded to by Her Honour, was that it was an event that need not have happened at all. Different choices by Hill upon leaving the nightclub would have meant Mr Riddiough-Allen would not have died, and the three perpetrators would not be behind bars.

Most crucially, if Hill had not brought a knife, the tragic events need not have happened.

To use the mantra of the MIKE’s Trust, formed by the family of the man who lost his life trying to stop a situation, the biggest lesson of all is ‘leave the knife in the drawer’. While their lives will continue, it will be one devoid of Mike, while equally, the children of Miss Taylor, Miss Powell and Mr Hill face time away from their parents — in the case of the latter, potentially forever. It is an event that has changed the lives of anyone connected to the victims, Mr Riddiough-Allen and the perpetrators.

All because someone brought a knife to a situation they need not have been in and decided to use it.