Victim, 49, shared a drink with his killer

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A MURDER victim shared drinks with his killer before he died.

Richard Goss murdered John Whitham after inviting the 49-year-old, who had just moved to Blackpool, for “an orgy of drink and drugs” with friends at the former Castleton Hotel on Central Drive.

Preston Crown Court heard Goss punched, kicked and stamped on Mr Whitham’s head and body during an argument.

Cans

Paul Reid QC, prosecuting, said: “They were in Goss’ room taking cannabis and Ecstasy.

“The atmosphere was boisterous with arm wrestling and competitions to see who could drink cans of beer and vodka the fastest.

“Things turned nasty. Goss punched Mr Whitham to the head, banging his head against a wall.

“Things calmed down and the drinking resumed. Goss flared up again. He kicked him in the head causing his head to strike the bottom of the wall.”

Goss, 21, who had turned to booze when he was just 13, launched the brutal attack in the early hours of Friday, July 9 last year after accusing Mr Whitham of stealing his cannabis.

He was heard boasting “I’ve just punched him and smashed his head off the wall” as his victim lay defenceless on the floor.

Both men lived in seprate flats in the property.

When Mr Whitham came round, Goss took him into his own room.

Other residents of the flats say they later heard Mr Whitham lying on his bed mumbling.

Not realising how serious his condition was, they gave him some gin.

It was only at 6pm when they heard him collapse on the landing that they called for an ambulance. Paramedics arrived and pronounced him dead.

A post mortem revealed Mr Whitham died from severe blunt force head, face and chest injuries.

Goss, who had pleaded guilty to murder on the basis he intended to cause grievous bodily harm, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 13 years and six months.

His defence said he had shown remorse.

But Judge Anthony Russell QC said: “This was a brutal attack on John Whitham in circumstances this court has come across too often - an orgy of drink and drug taking.

“ Regrettably things got out of hand, you persisted in an attack on John Whitham using your own brute force and punching and kicking him.”

Mr Whitham’s sister, Julia Roberts, from South Wales, said: “John was a gentle soul, he didn’t have an aggressive bone in his body. What happened was a shock to all of us, it’s been terrible.”

Det Supt Neil Esseen, from Blackpool CID, said: “It was a vicious and unprovoked assault on a defenceless and vulnerable man. It was a reckless and completely unnecessary act brought on by heavy drinking.

“He showed absolutely no regard for human life, inflicting fatal injuries on Mr Whitham during a sustained attack and I’m pleased he has received this sentence. This case illustrates the dangers and consequences of irresponsible drinking and I just hope that this sentence will offer some closure to Mr Whitham’s family.”