The mother of a man who was murdered in a brutal bar brawl has been left “permanently heartbroken” by her son’s death, a court heard as the killer was sentenced to life in prison.
Steven Lane was found guilty of murdering 42-year-old Simon Marx at an earlier trial at Preston Crown Court.
The 30-year-old stamped on his victim during a fracas at the Newton Arms pub in Normoss on October 7 last year, causing him to die from a brain haemorrhage while on holiday in Turkey the following day.
At his sentencing at Preston Crown Court yesterday, Gordon Cole, prosecuting, read out statements from Mr Marx’s family telling of their devastation.
His mum, Carol Marx, said: “I am absolutely devastated, heartbroken beyond words. I don’t want to believe it and part of me never will.
“I love Simon so much. You carry a child for nine months, give birth, and this happens. It makes you realise life is not forever.
“It is absolutely the worst thing that could happen to any parent. My heart is broken and it’s not as if I could go to the shop, buy superglue and put it back together. It’s permanently broken.
“I think about Simon every day. He’s in my thoughts when I go to bed at night and when I wake up in the morning.
“I still expect Simon to walk through the door, winding me up like he used to. Simon had a good sense of humour and was liked by everyone.
“Its now that this trial is over that it has finally dawned on me that Simon is gone forever.
“When Simon died a massive part of me died with him.”
His sister Claire Collins said: “There is a place in my stomach that feels so deep and hollow I feel it can’t possibly belong to me. It feels far away.
“I will never see that bearded face, that beaming smile. I will never be able to tease him for going grey, which he dreaded.
“To watch the hundreds of people who attended his funeral filled me with pride that he was loved so much. The impact of his passing obviously had affected many. It was the worst day of my life.
“I often wake up in the early hours reliving these images in my head. I have had to watch my children suffer as they grieve the loss of their uncle.”
His fiancée Louise Darnbrough said: “To say I am devastated is an understatement. Simon was my life.
“I lived for him. To be apart from him, I feel numb. A part of me has died too.
“Simon had so much to give, he always did. He was kind hearted and would help anyone in need. He loved his children so much.”
Mr Marx’s half brother Karl Conlon-Parr, who was united with Mr Marx in 2002 following the death of their father, said: “It was the tragic passing of our father that brought us as close as brothers can be.
“He was always in my thoughts and my heart, and I enjoyed it so much when we had our catch ups, because I was and always will be proud to call him my brother.”
Sentencing, Judge Robert Altham said: “(Simon) was plainly a highly cherished and valued member of his family. Those close to him will grievously miss his many positive qualities.”
He told the court how, on the night of October 6, 2017, there was tension in the Newton Arms between Lane, who was in the bar, and dad-of-two Mr Marx and his friends, who were in the vaults.
At one stage he left the pub with Gareth Ramsay, a friend of Mr Marx, and there was a confrontation, and a glass or some beer from a glass was thrown.
A short time later there was further interaction between those in the bar and vaults, and Lane said the next person to come through the door would “get glassed”.
Following this, Mr Marx approached Lane and flicked or slapped him in the face in an attempt to provoke a reaction. He was ushered back into the vaults area, but pushed past a member of staff and returned to Lane’s table.
David Easter, who was found not guilty of murder at an earlier trial, punched Mr Marx twice in what Judge Altham accepted was an act of self defence.
He fell to the ground, where he was stamped on by Lane.
Judge Altham said: “While Simon Marx was on the ground, the defendant stamped or kicked on his head and shoulders causing a subdural bleed which ultimately led to Simon Marx’s death.
“I am satisfied that there were three stamps or kicks. From the CCTV it is plain that they were delivered with considerable force. Effectively, the defendant was jumping on Simon Marx’s head and shoulders.
“He also struck Mr Alston (one of Mr Marx’s friends) to the head with an unbroken glass which did break on impact.”
Following the fight, Lane left the pub and went to his father’s house, where he was arrested. Mr Marx got up after the after the attack, but had sustained a slow bleed to the brain that led to his death some 29 hours later.
The court heard how Lane had a previous conviction dating back to 2010, when he punched a man in a Poulton nightclub, fracturing his jaw and eye socket.
During the hearing, Nick Johnson, defending, read out a string of good character references from family, friends and professionals.
In 2016, the court heard, he was given the Divisional Commanders Award for Bravery in Blackpool Tower for running into a burning building in an attempt to rescue a man trapped inside.
He was also noted for being “extremely trustworthy” and “really hardworking”, and a good guardian to his stepdaughter.
Judge Altham also accepted that there was “a significant element of provocation” leading up to the fatal brawl but added: “The value of any provocation must be diminished as (Lane) was part of the problem in creating the violent atmosphere in the pub that night.”
Lane, of Shalgrove Field, Fulwood, Preston, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 14 years for murder, and five years in prison for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, to run concurrently.
Members of the public gallery cried as the sentences were announced.