Page last updated at 17:20 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Man jailed for houseboat killing

Kenneth Harman
Kenneth Harman was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison

A 55-year-old man has been jailed for stabbing his partner to death on their houseboat on the River Medway in Kent.

Kenneth Harman was found guilty of the manslaughter of 61-year-old Michael Castle on the Impulse on 15 February following a two-week trial.

He was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison on Wednesday.

Maidstone Crown Court heard Harman, formerly of Cannon Bridge, Tonbridge, told emergency services he had been out and came back to find Mr Castle dead.

Officers quickly identified that Harman's account of his whereabouts did not ring true
Det Insp Ian Rogerson
During the trial the court was told paramedics who responded to the 999 call from Harman found Mr Castle lifeless with a stab wound to his chest.

Jonathan Higgs, prosecuting, said the account given to emergency services by Harman, also known as Clarke, was "a deliberate set of lies to try to get away with what he had in fact done, which was to stab and kill his partner".

The couple's friend, Paul Kinsey, said when he visited the Impulse with his son earlier that day the pair were on board drinking with another friend and a "petty argument" flared up.

No weapon was recovered by police despite a trawl by divers, but a knife block was found on the boat with a number of knives missing.

'Worse for alcohol'

Speaking following the verdict, Judge Michael Lawson QC said: "The person he killed was a partner or close friend.

"It inevitably occurred while both were the worse for alcohol and it would appear that it must have blown up very quickly."

Det Insp Ian Rogerson said: "Officers quickly identified that Harman's account of his whereabouts did not ring true and he continually changed his version of accounts as he was presented with corroborating evidence.

"We are pleased the jury has today come to the right conclusion bringing Michael's killer to justice."

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