A teenage thug who pulled out a knife at a party and stabbed a young man to death is facing life behind bars today after being convicted of murder.
Jimmy Connors was among a pack of teenage girls and boys who chased 23-year-old Joe Walker onto grassland in Sheffield, where he was brought to the ground and repeatedly kicked and stamped on.
Connors then produced a knife and plunged it into his defenceless victim’s back before walking away ‘elated, happy and proud’ of what he had done.
He was even heard taunting Joe as he lay dying, saying: “You’re not going to do nowt are you now, not when you are laid out.”
Joe, of Hollybank Close, Intake, and 17-year-old Connors were both at a party in a flat on Waltheof Road, Manor, when violence flared last September.
Jurors heard that Joe, a construction handyman, had challenged Connors for snorting cocaine at the party and had punched him when the pair clashed outside.
He ran off when Connors produced a kitchen knife.
Jurors at Sheffield Crown Court took just two-and-a-half hours to find Connors, of Atherton Road, Arbourthorne, guilty of murder yesterday, after dismissing his claim that somebody placed the knife into his hands during a brawl with Joe, and he had lashed out without realising what it was.
Joe’s family and friends, who were sitting in the public gallery, cheered as the verdict was announced. Many of his supporters jumped to their feet and others burst into tears.
Mr Justice John Griffith Williams lifted a reporting restriction banning the media from identifying the killer, who it emerged first started appearing before the courts when he was aged just 12.
Jurors heard that the year before the fatal knife attack, Connors was handed a youth rehabilitation order for carrying an offensive weapon, an extendable baton, in a public place. Other previous convictions include burglary, car theft, possession of cannabis and theft from vehicles.
Detective Inspector Melanie Palin, the deputy senior investigating officer in the case, said the case highlighted the dangers of carrying knives.
She said: “Joe was a young man who had his life taken from him at the age of 23. His family’s lives are also affected forever.”
“This case has shown carrying knives can only cause harm to people’s lives. If people don’t carry knives there’s no temptation to use them.”
Karen Foulstone and Paddy Walker, Joe’s parents, said: “Nothing will ever take away the pain and heartache we feel, nor will it bring back our son.
“People need to think twice about carrying and using knives. It only shows their weaknesses.
“We are still numb from Joe’s death. Our lives have been turned upside down and the loss of Joe is difficult to describe.
“At home there is silence no laughing or joking - just tears and photographs of happier times.”