Blackpool man stabbed childhood friend to death in alcohol fuelled row

Stephen Routledge
Stephen Routledge
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A 'violent and cowardly' Blackpool man killed his childhood friend in an alcohol fuelled argument in his flat.

Stephen Routledge, 24, of Station Road, Blackpool, was found guilty of the manslaughter of Joshua Whitley, 27, at Preston Crown Court yesterday.

Joshua Whitley

Joshua Whitley

The two men had met as children while at the same boarding school in Milnthorpe, Cumbria, where they became friends.

They had recently got back in touch and had met up at Routledge’s flat in Blackpool on July 27, where the fatal confrontation took place.

Both men had been drinking and an argument broke out, and Routledge stabbed Mr Whitley once in the chest before fleeing the property.

Police were called by the ambulance service at 10:36pm that day. Mr Whitley was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

A post-mortem examination revealed he died of a single stab wound to his chest.

Routledge was arrested and taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital to be treated for stab wounds, which were later established to be self-inflicted.

Following a two week trial at Preston Crown Court, a jury yesterday found him guilty of Mr Whitley's manslaughter. He was found not guilty of murder.

DS Chris Williams, of Blackpool CID, said: “Routledge made matters worse by leaving the scene, knowing full well what he had done to Joshua. He has continually failed to take responsibility for his actions during this fateful incident.

“Joshua’s family now have to live with the consequences of Routledge’s violent and cowardly actions. Our thoughts remain with them at what continues to be a very difficult time and we hope they are given the privacy to grieve”.

Mr Whitley's family said: “Josh, your life was a blessing, your memory treasured. You are loved beyond words and missed beyond measures. You will always be in our hearts. Rest in peace brother, son, grandson and uncle. We are grateful that finally we have justice for Josh.”

Routledge will be sentenced on February 25.