Man jailed
for life over friend’s stab death

A man has been jailed for life for the murder of a friend he stabbed during a drunken row.

Mark James was unanimously found guilty by a jury at Leeds Crown Court yesterday of murdering Dean Clark, a father of three in December last year.

Ordering James, 32, to serve a minimum of 17 years minus the time spent in custody on remand, the Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier, QC, said he accepted he had not intended to kill his friend.

The pair of them and a third man had been drinking together on the evening of December 16, James drinking vodka and also taking cocaine.

Around 10am the next morning they went to the maisonette of James’s mother in Malvern Road, Beeston, Leeds, where he continued to drink and take drugs.

The judge said: “The effect of the drink and drugs was to turn your head so that you were not thinking clearly.”

After scrolling through a phone which Mr Clark had with him he noticed the name Gemma, which was also the name of his long-term partner, and he became paranoid and suspicious and would not listen to reason.

“You assumed quite wrongly that it was her name and number in the phone.”

He would not accept Mr Clark’s explanation that the phone belonged to his girlfriend and that it was another Gemma altogether.

He punched Mr Clark in the face, knocking him off his chair, picked up a knife from the draining board and in a struggle cut his face narrowly missing the globe of his left eye before plunging it in his chest.

The blade penetrated a major artery causing massive blood loss from which Mr Clark, 32, a fork lift truck driver of Heath Grove, Beeston, Leeds, died.

By his actions he had deprived Mr Clark’s children of their father, his partner Natalie of the man she described as “her soulmate” and devastated his mother and family. “Nothing this court does will or could compensate any of them for that loss,” said the judge.