Man jailed for kicking father to death in Southport

James Thompson
Image caption Thompson will serve at least 10 years behind bars

A man has been jailed for life for the murder of a father-of-two in Southport.

James Thompson, 25, of Dobbs Drive, Formby, was told he would have to serve at least 10 years after being convicted at Liverpool Crown Court.

Antony Johnson, 47, was kicked to death on a night out in Southport, Merseyside, on 30 December last year.

The court was told how he went to help two teenage girls who were rowing with Thompson on Lord Street in the town when he was fatally attacked.

Mr Johnson was walking towards the Lord Street taxi rank with two friends when they went to the aid of the distressed teenagers.

They urged Thompson and the men he was with to "calm down", but Mr Johnson was set upon and repeatedly kicked by Thompson as he lay on the floor.

Steven Keegan, 26, also of Dobbs Drive, was cleared of both murder and manslaughter.

Image caption Mr Johnson died after he was attacked in Southport

Paul O'Brien, 27, of Mark Road, Hightown, was found not guilty of assaulting Mr Johnson's friend Nicholas Halsall.

Mr Johnson's children, Abbey, 17, and Brennan, 14, said: "Nothing will bring our dad back. It has left a huge hole in our lives but we will make him proud of us."

His family said he was a "law-abiding man who had never been in trouble".

They said: "He was a popular, much-loved son, brother, partner, father and friend.

"No-one can imagine our horror when we learned of the circumstances of his death. He helped a woman in distress and paid with his life.

"Anyone who knew Tony would know he was not an aggressive man.

"The conviction of James Thompson cannot bring Tony back. We will miss him forever, particularly his sense of humour.

"We also face a life sentence of loss and grief and we cannot see an end to it."

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