Woman who lost brother in stabbing 20 years ago hits out at 'soft' sentences handed to knife crime thugs in Blackpool

Beverley Keenan with a photograph of her late brother Wayne (known as Joey)
Beverley Keenan with a photograph of her late brother Wayne (known as Joey)
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A woman who lost her brother in a stabbing nearly 20 years ago has criticised the justice system after a string of lenient sentences handed out to knife crime thugs.

Beverley Keenan’s brother Wayne was just 34 when he was killed in his Chapel Street flat by Mark Oldfield, of Halton Moor, Leeds, in June 2000.

Michael Hart (bottom left) was stabbed 16 times in the face, neck and chest by jealous killer Stephen Derbyshire in Fleetwood

Michael Hart (bottom left) was stabbed 16 times in the face, neck and chest by jealous killer Stephen Derbyshire in Fleetwood

And the babysitter has spent the past two decades campaigning for tougher sentences for those who carry – and use a knife.

She spoke out after jealous Stephen Derbyshire, 34, was this week caged for a minimum of 20 years for murdering “dependable and generous” Michael Hart, 31, in a frenzy.

“There’s no deterrent for knife crime,” she said.

“My brother’s killer got just seven years for killing a dad of three in his own home.

“Just the other day a man got 20 years for stabbing a man to death – it’s a joke.

“I’m appalled with it, I really am, and it’s not getting better, it’s getting worse.

“It’s just totally wrong, especially with knife crime on the rise in the community. I don’t feel safe any more.

“The message seems to be ‘just do whatever you want, because you can get away with it’.”

Following the death of her brother, who was known as Joey Evans to his friends as he took his step-father’s name, Beverley campaigned for tougher sentences for criminals who committed knife offences.

She said if victims and their families did not believe sentences were tough enough, they should be allowed to appeal them in the same way criminals are allowed to appeal if they believe their sentences are too harsh.

Her brother’s killer, Oldfield was sentenced to seven years in prison for manslaughter, but was released in 2005.

Now, 14 years on, the country is suffering from a much-publicised spate of knife crime, particularly in the major cities like London, where a number of young people have been stabbed to death this year.

But the problem is prevalent in Blackpool too – with a string of criminals dodging jail despite being caught with a blade on our streets.

Liam McNamara, 19, formerly of Platt Street, Blackpool, but now of no fixed address, was found with a knife when police searched him following a row with an ex-girlfriend.

He pleaded guilty to having a blade in public at Blackpool Magistrates Court earlier this month.

He was given a 26 week jail sentence – suspended for a year – plus a year-long community order with up to 30 days of rehabilitation. He was also ordered do 80 hours of community service and told to pay £115 victims’ surcharge.

Paula Wilkinson, 40, who had been living at the Hangover Hotel on Shannon Street, Blackpool, was on the run from police when she was caught with a blade, theft, breach of a probation order and possession of a knife.

Wilkinson’s whereabouts only came to light when she was stopped in the street and searched by officers investigating a complaint of theft. A lock-knife fell out of Nicholson’s hand-bag.

She admitted two shoplifting offences, breaching her probation order by failing to keep appointments and possessing the knife.

She was sentenced to six months in jail – suspended for a year – with 20 rehabilitation days and fined £10, at Blackpool Magistrates on April 2.

And Jerry Murray, 43, of Hathaway, Marton, walked free from court after being caught carrying a knife in public for the third time on March 27.

Prosecutor, Pam Smith, said police were called to Harcourt Road, Blackpool, on March 5 at 7.30pm.

They retrieved a bag that witnesses said had been dropped by Murray and found a lock-knife attached to it.

When interviewed, Murray said he had drunk up to nine cans, taken crack cocaine, painkillers and his medication of the heroin substitute Methadone.

He pleaded guilty to possessing a lock-knife in public and was sentenced to 146 days jail – suspended for 18 months – and ordered to pay £85 costs with £115 victims’ surcharge.

Sinead Byrne, 26, of Keswick Road, Blackpool, lunged at a police officer with a knife and frightened her friend.

She had been staying with a woman friend in Blackpool when she started ranting, made cuts on her face and arms and began to grab knives and scissors on December 16 at 9.30pm.

Her friend called the police, and when officers arrived Byrne lunged at a female constable with a knife.

She pleaded guilty to assault, and was sentenced to a 12 months community order with up to 30 days’ rehabilitation to be supervised by the probation service, put on a six weeks curfew from 9pm to 6am, and ordered to pay £50 compensation to each victim at Blackpool Magistrates on January 21.

Barr, 41, of Station Road, Northfield, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to criminal damage after waving a knife around repeatedly stabbing a wooden table after losing his temper in a Blackpool Hotel on New Year’s Day.

Police were called to the Vienna Hotel, Banks Street, on January 1 at 4.45am.

Blackpool Magistrates Court heard that Barr and his ex-partner had argued, and that Barr had become aggressive and started waving the knife around.

When interviewed, he said that he had no intention of using the blade on anyone. He was given a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £60 compensation plus £20 victims’ surcharge.