THE mother of Reece James has forgiven her son’s killers on the day they were sentenced to 16 years in prison each.

Michelle James, who was praised for her “dignity and restraint” by Judge Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, fought to hold back tears as the sentences were read aloud at Winchester Crown Court.

See our coverage from the sentencing here

Following the sentencing, she issued a statement, which said the “split second” decision to take Mr James’s life had affected the whole family.

She said: “You can imagine the impact this has had on this family, when a link has been removed from a chain, broken.

“It will never be the same. I come from a strong Christian family and what has pulled us together is our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

“In that very same vein the Lord forgave me, so I in turn forgive all those involved who have taken him away.”

Kieron Wellington, 30, of Durley Gardens, Bournemouth, Wayne Stephenson, 34, of Byron Court, East Dulwich, Keifer Hutchinson, 23, of Manaton Close, Peckham, and Jarome Parkinson, 25, of Dover Road, Folkestone, were found guilty of the manslaughter of Mr James on Thursday at Winchester Crown Court.

The men had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr James at a flat in Roumelia Lane on July 25 last year, and told the court that the young father was accidentally shot following a bungled burglary at the property.

Parkinson was not sentenced yesterday as he has a number of previous convictions, including for robbery and drug-related offences, that the judge said could put him in the category of a "dangerous offender".

He will be sentenced on July 5 after a pre-sentence report and risk assessment are prepared.

The judge said the men took a 12-gauge shotgun with them to burgle the property, but that they believed the flat would be empty at the time of the raid.

She said the defendants were "reckless", adding: "No one of you could have been in any doubt as to the dangerous and lethal risk of the firearm."

Ten jurors returned to hear the sentencing.

The men were told they will serve half of their sentences.

All our stories on the Roumelia Lane shooting