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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Cumbrian killer’s jail term cut because he was protecting his family

A man who stabbed an acquaintance to death during a family feud over a hat in a Carlisle pub has had his jail term cut on appeal by top judges.

Desmond Young photo
Desmond Young snr

Desmond James Young Snr, 42, inflicted a single fatal stab wound on neighbour Joseph Howard, of Osborne Avenue, off Wigton Road, after ill-feeling between their two families exploded into violence in January last year.

Young, of Balfour Road, Raffles, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and, in June at Preston Crown Court, was sentenced to indefinite imprisonment for public protection (IPP), which is almost identical to a life term.

He was ordered to serve at least eight-and-a-half years before he can even apply for parole.

Lord Justice Treacy, Mr Justice King and Judge Alistair McCreath, sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, cut a year-and-a-half off that minimum sentence after hearing that Young had been trying to protect his family and had been threatened with death by his victim.

Mr Howard, 34, was stabbed in the chest with a kitchen knife outside Young’s home. Young, a man with previous convictions for violence, then went on the run, fleeing with the help of his son before being arrested in Scotland.

Lord Justice Treacy told the court that Mr Howard and his son had turned up at Young’s home looking for a fight on January 16 last year.

Young inflicted a single deep stab wound to his victim’s abdomen, believing that Mr Howard was armed and was about to enter his property, where his three children were sheltering, the court heard.

Allowing his appeal against sentence, the judge said: “There was no intention to kill or cause really serious harm.

“The case is to be viewed in the context of an intention of keeping the victim away from himself and his children, and it was the victim himself who brought the confrontation to this appellant’s house.

“The known reputation of the victim and the fact that specific threats to kill had been issued by the victim outside his house (led to) his honest belief – with some justification – that the victim had come to the scene armed.

“The sentence was simply too long and didn’t pay sufficient regard to the full circumstances or particular background of this offence. The appropriate minimum term is one of seven years,” the judge concluded.

A challenge to the open-ended nature of Young’s sentence failed.

Young senior always maintained he had not intended to kill Mr Howard.

In June, the court was told that on the Sunday before the stabbing Young senior had been socialising in The Jovial Sailor on Port Road when a man called Thomas Reynolds entered.

They knew each other, the court heard, and Young senior took the hat that Mr Reynolds was wearing. Mr Reynolds asked for it back but Young senior refused to return it.

There was “a scuffle” that led to Young senior falling to the floor. Mr Reynolds left – but Young senior was “furious at the slight to him”.

Some days later – on January 14 – Young senior, accompanied by someone else, pulled up by Mr Reynolds on Newtown Road, leaving him in no doubt that he was at risk of being attacked.

On the day of the stabbing Levi Howard drove along Balfour Road and there was then a confrontation between himself and Young junior.

Young senior came into the street and challenged Levi and his family members to a fight. Levi Howard went home and collected Mr Howard.

Back on Balfour Road, Levi and Mr Howard walked towards the house and “challenged the men who were inside”.

The court was told that neither Levi nor his brother Downie were armed.

Desmond senior and Mr Howard came together on the pavement. He stabbed him in the chest.

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