Leeds & West Yorkshire

Joshua Hirst death: Men found guilty of murder

Joe Church, left, and Arron Smith
Image caption Church and Smith will be sentenced next week

Two men have been found guilty of the "evil and cowardly" murder of a man who was stabbed to death in West Yorkshire.

Joshua Hirst, 20, died in hospital after he was attacked near his home in Mirfield in August.

A trial at Leeds Crown Court heard Joe Church and Arron Smith bought a knife and then lay in wait before attacking Mr Hirst while wearing masks.

Church, 18, of Redlands Close, Mirfield and Smith, 21, of Saville Street, Emley will be sentenced on Thursday.

'Horrific' injuries

Speaking after the verdict, Det Ch Insp Chris Walker said: "This was an attack which was clearly pre-mediated and demonstrated a shocking level of violence, sadly resulting in this young man's death.

"Their actions have also clearly had a dreadful impact on Josh's family who witnessed the immediate impact of the attack as they went to the aid of their son.

"The crime scene we saw as police officers was horrific and I wish to pay tribute to their bravery and dignity in having to try and cope with the impact of this appalling crime."

In a statement Mr Hirst's father Terry, mother Julie and brother Jon said: "Our lives have been devastated by the loss of Josh.

"We loved him so much and in turn he was loved by so many and brought joy, loyalty and happiness into the lives of others.

"We never got to see Josh celebrate his 21st birthday and we feel like we have been robbed by the evil and cowardly attack on him.

He was a brave young man that night despite the horrific injuries he had received."

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