Essex

Man jailed for 23 years for chef murder

Karl Wills
Image caption Wills told the court he carried the knife to "warn people away"

A man who murdered a chef following a classical music concert in Essex has been jailed for at least 23 years.

Karl Wills, 22, of Cranley Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, stabbed Reynald Duchene, 37, in Priory Park, Southend, on 26 June.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard Mr Duchene challenged Wills, of Westcliff-on-Sea, when his fiancee Paula Haddlesey was "pestered" after leaving the concert.

Mr Duchene died from a single stab wound to the heart.

The chef was attacked after leaving the open-air concert with Ms Haddlesey and several friends where they had been celebrating her 44th birthday.

Jurors heard Mr Duchene challenged Wills after Ms Haddlesey was "pestered" as she walked to a taxi after leaving the concert.

Wills, who had denied murder, told the court he held out a "lock knife" to deter Mr Duchene, who came from South Woodham Ferrers.

He said he carried the knife to "warn people away".

Previous convictions

Wills said he had not intended to kill or inflict serious harm but claimed the chef was accidentally stabbed after going "crazy".

But prosecutor Andrew Jackson told jurors how hours after attacking Mr Duchene, Wills gave a "chilling" demonstration of the stabbing to a girl he met.

Judge Charles Gratwicke imposed a mandatory life term and said Wills must serve 23 years before being considered for parole.

He said: "By all accounts it had been a pleasant evening. He (Mr Duchene) was not looking for trouble

Image caption Reynald Duchene was stabbed after challenging the defendant, jurors were told

"An altercation occurred in the course of which you viciously and callously plunged that knife into his heart.

"As a result an innocent and decent man was cut down on the street. His life extinguished. His family and friends devastated."

The judge said he had accepted that Wills had probably intended to cause injury not to kill but said Wills had previous convictions for carrying a knife in public and had "run away" after the attack.

District Crown Prosecutor for the CPS, Michelle Brown, said: "We are pleased with the sentence handed down today, and that Wills can no longer pose a danger to society.

"Wills went out that evening, to what should have been an enjoyable family event, but instead he armed himself with a knife with nothing more than the intention to do someone harm.

"He inflicted a single stab wound to the heart of his victim, which caused massive internal bleeding and ultimately resulted in the tragic death of Reynald Duchene. Because it was an internal injury he had no chance of getting any help."

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