Leeds teenage stab killer jailed for life

A teenager who used an illegal knife to stab his rival to death after a drunken row has been jailed for life.

Wayne Wardle was told he must serve a minimum of 20 years in prison before he can be considered for parole after being found guilty of the murder of dad Sean Rodgers.

* Click here to sign up to free news and sport email alerts from your YEP.

Mr Rodgers, 20, bled to death from a fatal stab wound to the stomach during a fight with Wardle on a footbridge over Stanningley Bypass, Leeds, in the early hours of June 7.

* Click here to follow the YEP on Twitter.

A jury of six men and six women took more than ten hours to reach its guilty verdict by a majority of 11-1.

There were gasps from the public gallery as the verdict was announced. Members of the jury were also visibly distressed.

Leeds Crown Court heard during the trial how Mr Rodger's body was discovered on the bridge in the early hours of the morning.

A man who witnessed the fight between the two men had left the scene after thinking Mr Rodgers was just short of breath.

Passers-by did not realise he had been fatally injured, believing him to be drunk from the way he had positioned himself.

Wardle, of Wellstone Garth, Bramley, denied murder, claiming he took the butterfly knife with him intending to scare him. He pleaded guilty

to possession of an offensive weapon.

He told the jury he did not deliberately stab Mr Rodgers and was unaware he had inflicted any wounds with the weapon as they fought.

The two had been involved in a confrontation with each other outside the Daisy pub, Stanningley Road, earlier in the evening.

Wardle, who had drunk ten pints of cider, "lost face" after initially

running away from Mr Rodgers.

After several angry mobile phone conversations they agreed to the meeting which ended in tragedy.

Rodney Jameson, mitigating, asked The Recorder of Leeds, judge Peter Collier, to take into account Wardle's young age when fixing the minimum term that he must serve before being considered for release.

He said Wardle had suffered emotionally in the year before the incident after the death of close friends and relatives.

He said: "He appears to have reacted to that by drowning his sorrows in drink, perhaps behaving in a way he would not normally do.

"He could not deal with repeated emotional blows and sought refuge in drink, which has led to a tragedy for all."

Judge Collier told Wardle he was satisfied it was not his intention to kill Mr Rodgers.

After the hearing Det Chief Insp Simon Beldon, of West Yorkshire Police's Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, 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 added: "Any crime involving a knife is one too many and I am hopeful that Sean's death will be a consideration for any person who is thinking about carrying such a weapon."

After last summer's incident Mr Rodgers' family released a statement which read: "He was a wonderful, dad, son, grandson and so much more to his large and loving family.

"He was quiet, inoffensive and a popular young man. He adored his daughter who is a real daddy's girl.

"Known as 'Swell' to his friends, he was the life and soul of any party and always made everyone laugh. He had lots of friends and loved the attention of the girls!

"The manner of his death was tragic and has left a void in the lives of all who knew him. He will be greatly missed."

KPMG has appointed Richard Stark, a Director in the firms Corporate Finance practice, as its Head of Private Equity in the North.

KPMG appoints Richard Stark as head of private equity in the North