Teenager detained for life over knife murder

A TEENAGER has been sentenced to detention for life for the murder of a young father who bled to death on a footbridge after being stabbed with an illegal butterfly knife.

Wayne Wardle had drunk 10 pints of cider and two glasses of Jack Daniels whisky before having a row with Sean Rodgers earlier that night outside a pub.

He then arranged to meet Mr Rodgers again and in a confrontation on the bridge over the Stanningley bypass in Leeds stabbed him seven times.

Wardle, 19, of Wellstone Garth, Bramley, Leeds, was yesterday found guilty by an 11-1 majority of the jury at Leeds Crown Court of murdering Mr Rodgers, 20, of Greenthorpe Road, Armley, in June.

The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC told Wardle he must serve a minimum of 20 years before he can be considered for parole.

He said he was satisfied Wardle had not intended to kill Mr Rodgers but took the knife to be available because he had "lost face" at what had happened earlier.

The jury heard earlier that evening Wardle was drunk and waiting for a taxi with his girlfriend outside the Daisy pub in Stanningley Road when he got into a row with another woman.

Mr Rodgers's girlfriend became involved and he had called her a slag. That had led to Mr Rodgers and him shouting at each other before Mr Rodgers had chased him but he got away and went home.

Wardle told the court after some angry exchanges on the phone with Mr Rodgers fearing he was going to come to his home he decided to go and meet him and put the knife in his pocket intending to scare him off.

Initially Mr Rodgers was with another man so Wardle said he ran off but then stopped to confront him on the bridge. He denied he had deliberately stabbed him.

The jury heard the other man present pulled the pair apart and when Wardle again ran off the man did not realise Mr Rodgers had been stabbed.

Mr Rodgers would have been able to move for a short time and he thought he was only out of breath. He left him to recover unaware he was injured including one deep wound to his abdomen that had cut an artery.

Mr Rodgers was still on the bridge about two hours later sitting on the ground with his head between the vertical bars when he was seen by a man walking home who thought he was just a drunk and being sick and also left him.

It was only later when he went out for some cigarettes and saw he was still there that he realised there was something seriously wrong.

Rodney Jameson QC, defending Wardle, said he had suffered emotionally in the year before the incident as a result of the death of close friends and relatives.

"He appears to have reacted to that by drowning his sorrows in drink which has led to this tragedy for all concerned."

After the case Detective Chief Inspector Simon Beldon said: "Sean's death is an utterly senseless tragedy which has left his family with a huge loss from which they still grieve and has left his three-year-old daughter without a father."

He said West Yorkshire had a lower knife crime rate compared with other areas of the UK "but one such incident is too many".

"Hopefully the sentence and the consequences here for two families devastated by a few minutes of madness will send a very clear message to any young person considering carrying such a weapon."