A 13-YEAR-old boy from a Haslingden care home has been sentenced to 13 years detention for battering and burning a man to death.

Jamie Smith punched and kicked Stephen Croft, 35, in Birkenhead, Merseyside, in the early hours of November 6 last year.

He then threw his body on to the embers of a bonfire on waste ground.

Smith - who has a history of violence and living in care - can be identified after Judge Henry Globe, the Recorder of Liverpool, lifted a banning order.

The teenager launched his apparently motiveless attack after absconding from an unidentified care home in Haslingden.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that when staff and his relatives "tricked" him into a car to have him returned, he punched the windows, threatened to light a firework in his pocket then ran off.

Smith had been drinking vodka and cider before he killed Mr Croft, of Birkenhead.

The victim was a recovering alcoholic who had turned to drink after an industrial accident. He had spent the day drinking and was almost five times the legal driving limit when he was killed.

David Turner QC, prosecuting, said he was an extremely vuln-erable target. "It was therefore a sustained attack on a helpless man," he said.

The judge said he was "satisfied that the attack was motivated in part" by Smith's "desire to steal".

But Smith claimed he punched and kicked the victim to death because he was angry his family and care home staff tried to trick him to return to care.

Outlining his injuries, Mr Turner said Smith might have suffocated Mr Croft.

He said: "The pathologist found considerable damage to the face. There was bruising over the right eyelid. The nose appeared very swollen and was fractured."

When Smith was arrested his clothes were splashed with Mr Croft's blood. He maintained his innocence until the end of February when he pleaded guilty to murder.

David Steer, defending, said his client, who was a suicide risk, regretted the pain he caused Mr Croft's family.

But, sentencing Smith to 13 years before he is eligible for parole, the judge said he was a public danger and posed a very high risk of reoffending.

A family statement issued by Sarah Croft, the victim's sister said: "Due to the nature and severity of the injuries inflicted upon Stephen, our family and his friends were unable to see him for one last time to say our final goodbyes; this is something we will never get over.