Liverpool

Runcorn: Murder trial judge's knife crime warning

Joe Ward Image copyright Cheshire Police
Image caption Joe Ward was found guilty of murder

Knife crime "destroys lives" a judge said as he sentenced two teenagers for the fatal stabbing of a man outside an 18th birthday party.

Joe Ward, 18, was sentenced to life with a minimum of 16 years in detention at Liverpool Crown Court for murdering 18-year-old Eddie O'Rourke.

Mr O'Rourke was stabbed in the stomach when a row over a girl escalated in Runcorn, Cheshire, on 7 September.

A boy, 15, who handed Ward the knife, was sentenced to seven years detention.

Image copyright Cheshire Police
Image caption A 15-year-old boy who handed the knife to Joe Ward was found guilty of manslaughter

Judge Mr Justice King said: "As this case vividly demonstrates, knife crime destroys lives.

"It wrecks the lives of those who are stabbed, and in this case it destroyed a life altogether, it wrecks the lives of those who carry the knives and who are convicted of offences there from and are sentenced to long periods in custody when they might otherwise be in the outside world.

"The stark fact in this case is that had a knife never been brought to this party, Eddie O'Rourke would still be alive and neither of your two defendants would be facing the sentences you are," he added.

The court heard the younger defendant, who was found guilty of manslaughter, admitted he carried a knife daily as a way to bring "respect".

"If ever there was a case that demonstrated the utter futility and indeed danger of such an attitude it is this," the judge said.

Image copyright Cheshire Police
Image caption CCTV showed the moment the 12-inch knife was handed to Joe Ward by the 15-year-old boy

The court heard Ward collected the 12-inch bladed knife, described as like something from film Pirates Of The Caribbean, from his co-defendant the doorway of the British Legion Club in Halton Village.

A statement from Mr O'Rourke's mother Jane White said: "Eddie was like our oxygen, our everything.

"Our lives will never be the same again because you two cowards took him away."

Peter Wright QC, defending Ward, said a pre-sentence report found he was a "young man that does express genuine and extreme remorse".

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Eddie O'Rourke, pictured with his mother Jayne White

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