A KILLER who lured his neighbour into a confrontation then brutally kicked and punched him to death has been handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 11 years.
Steven Green, aged 38, of Skelton Way, Woodhouse, who was found guilty of murder last week after a trial at Sheffield Crown Court, left victim Ronald Harding with horrendous injuries - three skull fractures, broken ribs and a brain haemorrhage.
The court heard 62-year-old Mr Harding’s only crime had been smirking at his killer after letting slip to a barmaid in their local pub, The Royal, in Woodhouse, that Green fancied her.
After Green was jailed, Mr Harding’s devastated sister Helen Savage, speaking on behalf of the family, said: “I am satisfied with the sentence of 11 years imposed by the judge for this horrendous crime but it will not bring our beloved Ronald back.
“We appreciate all the help and support we have been given throughout this traumatic time, particularly from South Yorkshire Police.”
Sentencing, Mr Justice Andrew Smith told Green: “You killed Ronald Harding, a quiet and popular gentleman who gave you no cause for offence except a little light-hearted banter in a pub, which I’m sure was intended to be playful and friendly.
“You took offence and drove yourself into such a tantrum that you took petty revenge by breaking his window.
“When he came out to remonstrate, you assaulted him.”
Mr Justice Smith said Green subjected Mr Harding to ‘frenzied violence’.
The judge added the defendant, whom he described as intelligent, had initially tried to cover up the crime, by dragging Mr Harding back into his own flat to die, and then cleaning blood from the stairs outside.
Green, who had no previous convictions, was also ‘not honest’ with police when he was initially interviewed, the judge said, although Green later admitted the attack on Mr Harding.
Mr Justice Smith said Green’s minimum sentence was lower than the normal 15-year starting point for murder because he was suffering a depressive personality disorder at the time of the incident and the crime was not pre-planned.
A defence of diminished responsibility due to his mental illness was rejected by the jury at his trial.
Det Supt James Abdy, who led the murder inquiry, said: “Quite clearly, Green had a significant grievance with society.
“He lured his victim into an argument then set about him in a ferocious attack from which Mr Harding died.”