Fleetwood man Rhys Austin found GUILTY of murder of 32-year-old Danny Wise

Rhys Austin killed Danny Wise in cold blood after deceiving him into thinking he unarmed before pulling out a hidden knife and stabbing him.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 4:31 pm
GUILTY: Rhys Austin

The jury at Preston Crown Court today took just two hours to declare Austin, 23, of Broadwater Avenue, guilty of Mr Wise's murder on June 24 last year.

Throughout the trial, the court heard how the two men had exchanged threatening text messages in the hours leading up to the killing, and had made arrangements to have a fight.

Austin believed Mr Wise was pursuing his girlfriend, Leoni Harris, though Mr Wise said he did not know her.

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Danny Wise

At around 7am on June 24, Austin left his friend's Chatsworth Avenue home and cycled to a building site on Mowbray Place, where Mr Wise worked. There he told people Mr Wise had been texting his girlfriend, that 'he had a 12 inch knife' and was going to 'slit his throat'.

He returned to the site at around 8am, armed with a hammer and a knife. When Mr Wise arrived in his friend's car, he challenged him to a fight in a nearby alleyway.

He threw the hammer on the ground and turned out his pockets in what the prosecution described as 'a wicked trick' to fool Mr Wise into thinking he was unarmed.

He followed Austin into the alleyway, where he was stabbed by him within seconds, in full view of several of his work colleagues.

Handing down a life sentence with a minimum of 23 years in prison, Judge Simon Medland said: "The other day the jury and I watched in solemn silence the CCTV footage of Danny Wise crossing that road and into that alleyway convinced he was going into a fair fight, when you knew different.

"You knew different because you had armed yourself with a knife and taken it to the scene. You deliberately hid it down your waistband in order to entice Danny further. You enforced that by throwing away a hammer, and everybody there except you expected it to be a one on one fist fight.

"Within a second or two of Danny going into the alleyway, you had stabbed him.

"I take the view that you had planned this and had premeditated it. It's clear from your actions that day that that was so. You were greatly affected by drink and drugs and you were angry beyond words.

"The hammer, it seems, you took in order to be able to throw something away.

"I'm not entirely clear that you intended at that moment to kill him. Your statements are varying as to that."

Mr Wise's family wept as the Judge announced the sentence.

Austin's attending family member swore at him, called him 'selfish' and stormed out of the court.

Following the sentencing, Danny's mum Tracey Wise said: "We are absolutely relieved. We're really pleased justice has been served. It's a life for a life and he has got what he deserved.

"Obviously Danny is irreplaceable and there's nothing that can ever come close to bringing him back to us. But I was so scared (Austin) was going to get a lenient sentence and he hasn't. Other people on the streets are now safer with him in prison."