A MAN who stabbed his friend to death after a drunken row in a Charfield pub has been jailed for life.
Grant Bradley, aged 46, had denied murdering Marcus Dunkerton on a Friday night in June last year.
But a jury found him guilty on Friday and Judge Peter Blair jailed him for life, with a minimum term of 23 years.
The trial at Bristol Crown Court heard that Bradley and Mr Dunkerton, who was 40, had spent the evening of June 24 last year at the Railway Tavern in Wotton Road.
Avon and Somerset police said Mr Dunkerton was told to leave by the landlady, after a drunken row ended with him punching Bradley and pushing Bradley’s partner.
Bradley admitted going to Thames Close, where Mr Dunkerton lived with his partner and their young daughter.
There he punched Mr Dunkerton, who was lying on a sofa, before stabbing him five times in the buttocks and leg.
Bradley then left the house, despite Mr Dunkerton’s partner’s attempts to restrain him, and went to a house in Avon Road where he was living at the time.
Mr Dunkerton’s partner called police and the ambulance service shortly before 11pm but he could not be saved, and died just before midnight.
A post-mortem examination later found that Mr Dunkerton had been stabbed five times and that the cause of death was the severing of one of his femoral arteries, the main blood vessel for each leg.
Bradley was arrested on Manor Lane shortly after 11.30pm.
He denied intending to cause serious harm or inflicting the fatal blow.
The court heard that detectives tracked Bradley leaving the pub, going to his home in Avon Road, and then to Thames Close, using CCTV and doorbell camera footage.
The prosecution said he went home to get a knife, but Bradley claimed he had the kitchen knife with him already, and used it for work.
He also tried to blame Mr Dunkerton’s partner for the killing.
Bradley, who gave an address in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, to the court, was convicted of murder.
Afterwards, Detective Inspector Neil Meade of the Avon and Somerset police Major Crime Investigation Team, who led the investigation, said: “We may never know what triggered the dispute between these two friends, but it’s clear that alcohol played a significant part in the events leading up to Marcus’s death.
“This has been an incredibly difficult time for Marcus’s family, and I would like to commend them for their dignity and support.
“Marcus’s partner Nicola, especially, was cross-examined in court as Bradley tried to throw the blame on her but the jury saw through this and determined that Grant Bradley alone was responsible for Marcus’s death.”
Afterwards Mr Dunkerton’s family said they would never forgive Bradley for taking an “excellent father”, who loss had left “a huge hole in our lives”.
The family said: “Marcus was murdered in his family home, where he lived with his partner, daughter and two stepchildren.
“Marcus was a much-loved partner, father, stepfather, son and brother and he will be sadly missed by all of us.
“As a family we are all now sentenced to a lifetime of being without him; there will be so many milestones and special occasions that Marcus will not see or be able to attend.
“These occasions will be a constant reminder that he has been taken from us all.
“He will never walk his daughter down the aisle when she gets married, he will never have the joy of becoming a grandfather.
“Marcus was taken from us tragically and far too soon, in one senseless act of violence.
“Our lives will never be the same without Marcus.
“There isn’t a sentence that will make us feel better or bring Marcus back, but following a two-week harrowing trial, justice was finally served.
“We will never forgive Grant Bradley for what he did.
“We would like to thank the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the prosecuting barrister Joanna Martin KC, and in particular our Family Liaison Officers Erika and Celia, who have supported us throughout this 15-month terrible ordeal.”