A MAN who stabbed his “hated enemy” to death in the road outside a Leeds city centre bar has been jailed for life.
Damien Dhers was told today that he must serve a minimum of 24 years in prison over the killing of Marlon Small.
Mr Small bled to death after the knife blow by Dhers penetrated his heart during the incident on Merrion Street.
Dhers, 34, had waited until Mr Small left Lounge Bar and Grill before launching the attack.
Dhers reached out of the driver’s window of his VW Golf before stabbing Mr Small once with the weapon and driving away.
Jailing Dhers, Mr Justice Lewis said: “I am sure, on the evidence, that you knew that the knife was in the car that evening.
“Dhers had an irrational hatred of Marlon Small and deliberately set out to attack him.”
“I am sure that when you drove back to the Lounge Bar and Grill the last time you intended to have, and did have, the knife ready and available to use as a weapon against Marlon Small when you confronted him.”
He added: “You produced the knife - you were the aggressor.”
Dhers’s girlfriend, Sherelle Davidson, 31, was also jailed along with three other men who helped Dhers in his attempt to evade justice in the days after the murder.
The stabbing took place shortly after 1.20am on November 1 last year.
CCTV footage of the incident shows Mr Small returning from the middle of the road and collapsing on the pavement in front of the bar as others rush to help him.
Mr Small, 31, from Chapeltown, Leeds, died shortly after being taken to hospital.
The jury at Leeds Crown Court heard the two men had a long standing “irrational” hatred towards each other.
When interviewed about the incident, Dhers told police their rivalry had started over a broken bicycle and he referred to Mr Small as a “grass”.
Dhers, of Hessle Road, Hyde Park, had pleaded guilty to manslaughter and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice but he denied murder.
He claimed he had acted unlawfully in using the weapon against Mr Small but did not accept that he intended to kill or cause serious injury.
After the killing Dhers fled the city with the help of others in a bid to “buy himself time” so he could construct lies about the incident before handing himself in to police.
Carmello Marzullo, 29, of Cockshott Lane, Armley, was found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. He drove Dhers to Middlesbrough after the incident in a bid to avoid arrest. He was jailed for 14 months.
Sherelle Davidson, also of Hessle Road, was jailed for 15 months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Davidson helped harbour Dhers for three days after the killing.
Keiron Hunt, 27, of Rounhay Road, Harehills, and Marcus Clarke, 22, of Gathorne Terrace, Chapeltown, were both jailed for two years after pleading guilty to the same offence.
The court heard how the pair were in the car with Dhers at the time of the stabbing.
They then helped dispose of the murder weapon and abandoned Dhers’s vehicle.
Detective Chief Inspector Jim Dunkerley, of West Yorkshire Police Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, said: “Dhers had an irrational hatred of Marlon Small and deliberately set out to attack him.
“He then tried to evade justice and buy himself time while he invented lies about what had actually happened. That false account wasn’t believed by detectives when he did eventually hand himself in, in much the same way as the jury saw through it at court.
“Those who assisted him in covering up have also been made to face the consequences of their actions and we hope that will serve as a warning to others.
“Marlon Small’s murder was a completely senseless act of violence and his death was totally unnecessary. We hope his family can take some degree of comfort from knowing the person responsible has been brought to justice and given a substantial prison sentence.”