Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Thursday, 29 April 2010 14:10 UK

Snowball fight man jailed for Rhuddlan murder

Oliver Taylor
Oliver Taylor armed himself with a kitchen knife following an altercation

A teenager accused of stabbing a man to death after a snowball fight near his Denbighshire home has been jailed for life for murder at Mold Crown Court.

Oliver Taylor, 19, of Rhuddlan, claimed he was trying to "scare away" a group of men, including Anthony Burke, 20.

Mr Burke, also from Rhuddlan, died on Christmas Eve last year after receiving a stab wound to the stomach outside Taylor's house the night before.

The judge imposed a minimum tariff of 17 years on Taylor's sentence.

In a statement read outside the court, Anthony Burke's mother, Cindy Burke, said: "The emptiness that we feel inside without Anthony here is so hard to put into words.

"He was such a fun-loving lad, there was always some music and laughter with him around.

"The house was always full, the door always open and his many mates - boys and girls - were always coming and going.

"I never knew until it was too late what an impact he made on so many people's lives young and old alike. So many people have told me how empty their lives are without him in it."

The jury had previously heard that on 23 December, Mr Burke had been drinking with a group to celebrate a friend's birthday and the group had started a snowball fight in the street at about 2230 GMT.

Anthony Burke, murder victim
It was a deliberate stabbing; there was no struggle or scuffle and Mr Burke immediately fell to the ground bleeding from his wound
Andrew Thomas QC, prosecuting

Taylor, who had been at home with his girlfriend, heard shouting and saw a group of about eight people outside, one of whom, Tom Fisher, was standing on his wall.

Taylor told the court he went outside and told Mr Fisher to get away from the house. As he walked back to his home, he claimed, the group shouted "What are you going to do about it?"

He added that the group were holding bottles and tried to grab him - in particular Mr Burke.

Taylor said he ran into the house and emerged with a kitchen knife, adding: "I wanted to scare them away."

The court was told that a scuffle began with Mr Burke, who was swinging around a sharp object which could have been a piece of glass or a knife.

Taylor said: "Then he screamed and fell to the floor. Then I ran away."

Taylor denied having a coloured view of Mr Burke, who was the ex-boyfriend of Taylor's girlfriend, Jessica Hughes.

He also denied having ever argued with or threatened Tom Fisher, who was his girlfriend's step-brother.

The police at the scene
Police cordoned off the scene after the stabbing in December 2009

Andrew Thomas QC, prosecuting, previously told the court: "We say the truth is the defendant deliberately used that knife against Mr Burke in circumstances which are nothing less than murder.

"There were no blows exchanged. When the defendant realised Mr Burke wasn't going to back down, he retreated into his own house.

"Anthony Burke and his friends then walked off. Meanwhile the defendant went back in his house and fetched a kitchen knife.

"He came back out into the street followed by his girlfriend shouting 'don't do it'.

"It was a deliberate stabbing; there was no struggle or scuffle and Mr Burke immediately fell to the ground bleeding from his wound."

Mr Burke was taken to Glan Clwyd Hospital, but died in the early hours of Christmas Eve despite emergency surgery and blood transfusions.

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