Man sentenced to life in prison for Blackpool murder

A man who carried out a "brutal" attack in 2007 which left his victim with brain damage has been sentenced to life in prison for murder.

By Sean Gleaves
Monday, 28th June 2021, 11:57 am
Updated Monday, 28th June 2021, 12:20 pm

Mark Cranfield, 38, repeatedly stamped on Alec Driver's head with both feet at an address in Horsebridge Road in February 2007.

Mr Driver, 41, was not able to move or talk following the attack and died in April 2019.

Cranfield - who had previously pleaded guilty to attempted murder in 2007 prior to Mr Driver's death - was sentenced to life in prison for murder at Preston Crown Court on Friday (June 25).

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Det Insp Mark Dickinson, of Blackpool CID, said: "The level of violence displayed by Cranfield when he attacked Alec Driver on Horsebridge Road in February 2007 was sickening.

"The sentence passed down reflects how anyone capable of such a brutal and mindless act of violence should be either held in custody, or be subject to monitoring by the Probation Service for the rest of their lives."

On February 21, 2007, Mr Driver was pushed down the stairs by Cranfield outside of his partner's flat.

Cranfield then kicked and stamped on Mr Driver's head, before jumping and landing on his head with both feet.

Alec's family wanted to publish these photos of him; one before the assault in February 2007, and the other as he was treated in his last days of life, to illustrate the effect of such a violent act. (Credit: Lancashire Police)

Following the attack, Cranfield returned to the flat where he was heard boasting about what he had done.

On more than one occasion, Cranfield returned to where Mr Driver lay, unresponsive, to inflict further violence.

It was only when a neighbour found Mr Driver unconscious on the pavement that help was called.

He was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital with serious injuries.

"Alec's family wanted to publish these photos of him; one before the assault in February 2007, and the other as he was treated in his last days of life, to illustrate the effect of such a violent act," Det Insp Mark Dickinson added.

"The lasting impact of this crime, not only on Alec Driver, but also on his family and friends, is terrible. I have nothing but admiration for the quiet dignity with which Alec's sisters and brother have conducted themselves over the last 14 years."

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Cranfield was arrested and charged with attempted murder following the attack.

He pleaded guilty and was jailed for life at Preston Crown Court in December 2007 with a minimum term of nine years.

Mr Driver never regained full consciousness and was discharged from hospital into a long-term care facility in June 2007.

He remained in a low-awareness vegetative state, unable to communicate, and died in April 2019.

A forensic post-mortem examination and further expert pathological examination established Mr Driver had died as a direct consequence of the injuries inflicted by Cranfield more than 12 years earlier.

Following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service and with the permission of the Attorney General, Cranfield was charged with murder in April last year.

He pleaded guilty and was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 21 years.

Given Cranfield had already served more than 14 years in prison for attempted murder, he was given a minimum term of imprisonment, before being able to apply for parole, of three years and 123 days. He will remain on life licence.

In tribute, Mr Driver’s family said: "Alec Driver as a child was a victim of circumstance in that he lost his mother at 13. A mother who he truly idolised. He was the trailer to her truck. Within a short period of time he also suffered the loss of his brother George. The tragic loss of which haunted him till 21/02/07.

"Alec had his flaws which he would freely admit to, however, he had a kind soul and a generous heart who would give you his last penny.

"Our one consolation as a family is that he outlived our father who prayed daily for him just to hear his voice.

"Alec is much loved and greatly missed by his family. The trailer is now back with the truck."

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