Huffpost UK uk

Florida Shooting: James Kouzaris And James Cooper Face Killer Shawn Tyson

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

Two friends of British tourists James Kouzaris and James Cooper, murdered in Florida, have faced killer Shawn Tyson, telling him of their pain in emotional tributes to a hushed courtroom.

Joe Hallett and Paul Davies spent four days sitting through evidence, including seeing distressing photographs of their friends' dead bodies, before the 17-year-old was given two life sentences.

Shawn Tyson, who has been convicted of the murders in Sarasota, Florida, showed no emotion as Joe Hallett and Paul Davies described their pain.

Hallett addressed Tyson personally, saying: "It was through your deadly action that you have taken us all on a journey to hell during the last 12 months."

Scroll down for the full statements

of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

He said the men were "decent human beings", telling Tyson:

"They were two of the good guys in life.

"You pierced their hearts with bullets and you robbed my friends of their dignity, their freedom and their future."

He added: "You have failed in life - you have been failed by your family, your friends, the educational system, your local community.

"But those failings don't excuse your actions."

Davies, who had travelled with Kouzaris and was due to move to London with Cooper, said Tyson had robbed him of a best man.

"For the past week I've had to sit in this courtroom and watch photos of my my two best friends lying on the ground, riddled with bullet holes.

"I've had to listen to how you stalked them, made them beg for their lives and then unload a gun on them.

"I've had to listen to all that knowing that they would never in a million years have threatened you or tried to hurt you.

In a statement, the families of the two victims said the pain of their loss was "agonising": "It is a fact that we were given a life sentence when our sons were so brutally and needlessly taken from us.

"Ours is a life sentence, with no chance of parole from a broken heart, and a shattered soul.

"The agonising and searing pain we have experienced will continue until our sentence is at an end.

"The evil of the killer is one thing, but the fact is, he would not have been on the streets had instructions to keep him incarcerated been passed from one judge to another."

Joe Hallett's emotional statement in full

Shawn Tyson,
I look you in the eyes and speak directly to you today as I have to try to make you understand the pain and constant suffering that you have brought to the lives of so many people who cared, respected and loved James Kouzaris and James Cooper.

It was through your deadly actions that you have taken us all on a journey to hell during the past 12 months.

If you had pulled up a chair instead of pulling out a gun you would have learned that these two kind, funny, caring and intelligent young men were incredibly unique human beings who really understood, appreciated and valued the important things in life.

Family and friendships topped their list. They were decent human beings.

They would judge a person by what is on the inside. They wouldn't judge a person by the way they spoke, their appearance or the area they were raised.

You murdered two people who, if you had given them the chance, would have given you the time of day.

There is not a single person who has ever had a bad word to say about either of them quite simply, they were two of the good guys in life.

I would have done anything for both of them in life, they were that special to me. There is a big hole in my heart that can never be repaired.

Shawn, I would like you take a moment to think of two people in your life who you love.

Imagine them being killed. Now try to imagine that they died because someone creeped up on them and shot them numerous times for no good reason.

Welcome to our world. Every night you go to sleep, every morning you wake up, I want you to think of my friends who you murdered. Their images will be imprinted on your conscience up until your very last breath in life.

James Kouzaris and James Cooper continue to inspire those who knew them yet they will haunt your thoughts until the day you die.

You pierced both of their hearts with bullets and you also robbed my friends of their dignity, their freedom and their futures.

You have ripped the hearts out of so many of us. Shawn Tyson, I need you to understand the pain you have caused and the amazing personalities that you have killed.

"It is the responsibility of every human being to aspire to do something worthwhile, to make the world a better place than the one he found.

Life is a gift and if we choose to accept it we must contribute in return.

You have failed life. You have been failed by your family, the education system, your local community and society as a whole, however these failures don't excuse your actions on the 16th of April that will now determine your future.

You murdered two defenceless young men. You sit in front of me today believing you have only killed two people. That's not true.

In the future James Kouzaris and James Cooper would have become fathers to the children that they'll never have because of your pointless act.

I hope that you and your family suffer every single second of every single day, just as the loved ones of James Kouzaris and James Cooper do.

You have killed two innocent human beings who touched the lives of so many people they met in their short lives.

I'll never hear my friends laugh again, I'll never witness their infectious smiles, I'll never watch them joke with each other, I won't be present at their weddings, I won't see their children grow up and I won't get the opportunity to look them in the eyes and tell them they were two incredible men who touched my life.

They were special. Two true friends who were on the same wavelength, who enjoyed spending time together and who loved each other dearly. They are a shining example of true friendship.

For every painful detail of their deaths I have endured, for each disturbing photo I have been exposed to, I am still glad I have this opportunity to look into your eyes and try to explain the pain that you have caused.

You have taken the lives of two of our friends but you can never take our memories.

Paul Davies' full statement

On March 26th 2011 I was on a flight back to the UK with my best friend.

We had just travelled through South America and were now talking about the future. We were both excited about the next stage of our lives.

I was moving to London with another good friend of mine and he was planning to spend a year in Australia before joining us back in England.

I was excited for him but also knew I would miss him while he was away. He was like a brother to me and we'd spent almost everyday together for the past three years.

That friend was James Kouzaris - the man you decided to shoot through the heart just because he was lost, drunk and defenceless.

Now, instead of one year without him I have to live the rest of my life knowing that I will never get the chance to see him again.

When I get married I'll be short of a best man, when my children are growing up they will never get the chance to be friends with his children, and I'll never get the opportunity to look back on our lives with him and laugh at the stupid things we get up to.

The friend I was moving to London with was James Cooper - the man you also decided to shoot dead despite the fact he was unarmed and pleading for his life.

Likewise, he will never get the opportunity to find his wife, settle down, have kids and enjoy life. Like James Kouzaris he was a good man.

If either of them had been standing in their neighbourhood at 3am and saw you wandering around I'm sure at first they would have wondered what you were up to and maybe even approached you.

But if they asked you what you were doing and you explained that you were lost, drunk and just wanted to go home they would, at the very least, have given you directions or let you use their cell phone to call a taxi.

I'm even going to bet that they would have even paid for it if you had no money and needed help.

That's not just because they were good people, it's because they were men.

You might think that being a man is about carrying a gun around but it isn't. Wearing a mask and shooting two guys in cold blood is being a coward. Being a man is about recognising that you're only on this planet once and that you are judged on your actions while you're alive.

James Kouzaris and James Cooper chose to smile at life and take advantage of every opportunity. They chose to make friends with people regardless of where they were from or what they looked like. That is what they will be remembered for.

The stupid thing about what you did that night is that you've ended your own life too. You're now going to spend the rest of your life in prison and the one thing you'll be remembered for is for ending the lives of two amazing men in the most cowardly way possible.

It is my wish that you one day recognise the consequences of your actions and show remorse for what you have done.

For the past week I've had to sit in this courtroom and watch photos of my my two best friends lying on the ground, riddled with bullet holes.

I've had to listen to how you stalked them, made them beg for their lives and then unload a gun on them.

I've had to listen to all that knowing that they would never in a million years have threatened you or tried to hurt you.

They wouldn't hurt anyone because, like I say, they were good men, the most amazing men you could have ever met. Maybe if you were more of a man that night you would have known them long enough to find that out for yourself.