A schoolboy was stabbed in the heart and left for dead over comments he made on Facebook.
The 16-year-victim was left fighting for his life after suffering serious stab wounds to his chest, abdomen and back on March 9 this year.
Two of his friends were also wounded in the attack by Anthony Swainbank, 16, his cousin Scott Fergie, 18, and Fergie’s best friend Matthew McLeod, 18.
The three youths were cleared of attempted murder following a two-week trial at Liverpool Crown Court.
But they have now been locked up for a total of 25 years after being found guilty of other charges, reports the Liverpool Echo.
Swainbank, whose address cannot be published for legal reasons, admitted wounding with intent the three victims.
Fergie and McLeod were found guilty of the charge on the basis of joint enterprise.
The court heard the youths armed themselves with knives and a knuckle duster before heading to Plantation Woods to confront a rival group.
Swainbank had told Fergie that the boy was bullying him and his cousin argued with one of his friends on Facebook the night before, when threats were exchanged.
Anya Horwood, prosecuting, said Swainbank asked Fergie “what will I have G?” and his cousin replied with a picture of a knuckle duster.
Fergie then recruited McLeod, asking him “are you game for stamping on a few gimps’ heads?”
Swainbank told the jury that in the build up to the arranged meeting in Okell Drive, McLeod gave him a pen knife and said “don’t hesitate to use it”.
Miss Horwood said Swainbank stabbed the schoolboy in his chest, causing a deep wound which penetrated his heart sac.
She said Fergie punched one victim in the side of the head with a knuckle duster and McLeod stabbed the schoolboy in the back and another teenager in the leg.
The boy said he would have died but for the help of passers-by and doctors and now has scars down the length of his body.
The court heard his chest had to be opened up during surgery and metal plates fitted to hold it together, meaning he can not participate in any strenuous activity like sports and has given up his dream of becoming a fitness instructor.
He said: “These scars will be a constant reminder of what happened to me that day. They will never go away.”
The defendants had no previous convictions.
Ben Morris, defending Swainbank, said he lacked maturity but had shown the strength to plead guilty and “face up to what he had done”.
He said his client was “genuinely remorseful” after destroying his and his family’s lives and almost destroying the life of his victim.
Michael Bagley, defending McLeod, said he was at college, had a job and in many ways was “a model young man”.
Judge Andrew Menary, QC, said this made the offence “bewildering and worrying”.
He said: “It makes it all the more extraordinary that these three young men should plot and plan over a protracted period of time to hunt down young men and do it with weapons.
“They seem to have been fearless. They had no idea who they were going to confront and how many there were going to be, but they were undeterred.”
Mr Bagley added that McLeod’s fiancée has since ended their relationship.
Nicholas Cockrell, defending Fergie, said he has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and also lacked maturity.
However, Judge Menary said Fergie had given sophisticated answers when giving evidence during the trial.
The judge said it was “not at all clear” why the attack had happened despite a history of schoolboy fights between Swainbank and the boy.
He said Swainbank was the one who plunged the knife into the victim’s heart and that McLeod stabbed him in the back.
Judge Menary said the feud was nothing to do with McLeod but he went along out of “misguided loyalty” to Fergie.
He said text messages showed Fergie played a significant role in “stoking up tempers and recruiting others to fight with weapons”.
The judge sentenced Swainbank to seven years and McLeod and Fergie to nine years in a young offenders institution.