Trio jailed for fatal doorstep stabbing

THREE men have been jailed for a total of 33 years after being found guilty of killing a “thoroughly nice” man who was stabbed to death on his doorstep last summer.

Elliot Furniss

THREE men have been jailed for a total of 33 years after being found guilty of killing a “thoroughly nice” man who was stabbed to death on his doorstep last summer.

Yesterday, a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court found 30-year-old Darren Benstead, of Oxford Crescent, Clacton, guilty of murdering Ian Wilson on June 9 last year.

He was given a mandatory life sentence and was told he would serve a minimum of 17 years by Judge Christopher Ball QC.

Terence Benstead, 29, also of Oxford Crescent, and 41-year-old Wayne Johnston, of Grove Avenue, Walton-on-the-Naze, were both found guilty of manslaughter and will each serve a term of eight years.

Mr Wilson, 29, was “viciously attacked” at the front door of his flat in Old Road after a confrontation with the three men led by Darren Benstead, who had an “obsession” with Jade Bladon, a friend of Wilson's.

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During the five-week trial, the jury of eight men and four women heard that Miss Bladon had made a derogatory sexual remark about Darren Benstead's mother during a phone call in the hours before the attack.

Mr Wilson was fatally stabbed in the liver and, despite the best efforts of his friends and the emergency services, died from his injuries.

Before handing out the sentences, Judge Ball said the attack was “premeditated” and stemmed from Darren Benstead's “immature obsession” with Miss Bladon.

Judge Ball said: “From the evidence we have heard and from some of the material we have not heard from in open court, Ian Wilson was a thoroughly nice chap. To say he didn't deserve what happened to him does not do him justice.

“I have not the least doubt that this happened because Darren Benstead's obsession and inability to deal with adult emotion in a mature way and his determination to pick a fight with Ian Wilson for no good reason at all.

“From the evidence and the verdicts I conclude that there was premeditation in the visit to the house that day.”

He said Darren Benstead had acted in a “time honoured and cowardly” way by calling on his brother and Johnston to outnumber the victim.

He added: “And, just to ensure things went his way, a hunting knife was brought along.”

Judge Ball said Terence Benstead - a father of two - had been “recruited” by his brother and was sucked in by his obsession and his “absolute intention of having it out” with Mr Wilson.

He said: “You were prepared to back him up and there has been no evidence that you tried to talk him out of it. You were at the forefront of the fight - in the thick of it.”

He said Johnston - an alcoholic - had spent the day of the attack “tanking himself up” with the Benstead brothers before providing him with the murder weapon, but acknowledged his failed attempts to diffuse the confrontation and “bring it to an end”.

The three have all served 301 days in custody, which will be deducted from their sentences.

After the hearing, senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Godfrey O'Toole said the trio had responded “brutally and beyond reason” to a trivial disagreement.

He said: “Whilst the severity of the sentence handed down today reflects the heinous nature of the crime, the grief Ian's family and friends feel for his loss will continue - only the passage of time and their support for each other can ease that pain.”

The family of Mr Wilson said they were still “numbed and shocked” at the brutal and senseless way he was killed.

In a statement, they said: “There is not a day that goes by where we do not think about him. Ian was such a loving and caring person. Gentle, kind and just loved playing his music.

“A wonderful son, brother, uncle and a friend to many. Our family will always be so proud of him.

“In our opinion there could be no sentence long enough to provide adequate punishment for the three responsible for his death but now we as a family can begin the process of healing and attempt to move forward with our lives.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Essex Police for their tireless and thorough investigation and for the support and compassion they have shown to us.”

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