A Fleetwood man murdered a ‘dependable and generous’ dad-of-two in a jealous rage after discovering he had exchanged racy text messages with his girlfriend.
Stephen Derbyshire, 34, of Hawthorn Drive, stabbed Michael Hart, 31, in a ‘frenzy’ after deliberately driving into his car on Hatfield Avenue and chasing him onto Broomfield Road in the early hours of December 9, 2018.
He had previously denied killing Mr Hart, however his plea was changed at the last minute.
At Preston Crown Court yesterday, Judge Mark Brown watched CCTV footage of the attack, during which a blade could be seen glinting in Derbyshire’s hand as he rained blows down on Mr Hart, stabbing him 16 times in the face, neck and chest.
Prosecutor Francis McEntee said: “(A witness) described Michael Hart as looking petrified. He looked like he was running as fast as he could. He looked like he was running for his life.
“The defendant kicked the back of Mr Hart’s heels and that tripped him.
“The original blow seemed to be a punch.
“Mr Hart, on the floor, rolled over to protect himself with his hands in a defensive position, and it was then that the witness saw the defendant had a knife.”
Members of the public gallery cried as the witness statement described how Mr Hart screamed for help.
“There was a number of blows - he described it as a terrible amount,” he said. “He then said that Mr Hart was still and thought he was dead.
“(Derbyshire) held Mr Hart by the chest area before quite slowly putting the knife into his victim one more time in the neck or face area.”
The killer then ‘added insult to injury’ by swearing at Mr Hart.
The court heard Mr Hart had previously been in a relationship with Derbyshire’s then-girlfriend, Lisa Cardwell, who he had two children with. The pair had rekindled their relationship, but had not yet told their respective partners.
At around midnight on December 9, Derbyshire and Miss Cardwell returned to their home after a night out drinking. They argued and Derbyshire demanded to see her phone, eventually taking it from her and discovering the messages that she had sent to Mr Hart. Miss Cardwell fled the property with her two children and went to Mr Hart’s sister’s house.
At around 1.10am, Mr Hart received a phone call from his sister saying Miss Cardwell had been “battered” by Derbyshire, and he left his Beaumont Place home to see them. Less than 10 minutes later, he was crashed into by Derbyshire on Hatfield Avenue.
He had left to try to find Miss Caldwell, armed with a large kitchen knife, the court heard, with the intention of scaring Mr Hart with it.
Following the murder, Derbyshire used the knife to cut his own throat and wrists in an apparent suicide attempt.He handed himself into police the following day.
Handing down a life sentence with a minimum of 20 years, Judge Brown said: “Mr Hart was still a young man and you have deprived him of many years of life, and you have deprived his family of the love, support and companionship he would have given them.
“He is described as a gentle man with a kind heart, who worked hard and was thought of highly. He was a devoted father and a dependable and generous friend.
“His children adored him and have been greatly affected by his death. It is clear that Mr Hart’s family is devastated by what happened to him and they will continue to feel the pain of grief for a long time to come.”