Wisbech Pub landlord found guilty of murder

PUBLISHED: 16:22 07 February 2007 | UPDATED: 19:56 01 June 2010

The murder weapon

The murder weapon

A pub landlord was today (Wed) handed a life sentence after he was found guilty of murdering one of his customers by stabbing him to death during a frenzied attack. Former soldier and Millwall fan Stephen French, 40, stabbed builder Christopher Garford

Steven French

A pub landlord was today (Wed) handed a life sentence after he was found guilty of murdering one of his customers by stabbing him to death during a frenzied attack.

Former soldier and Millwall fan Stephen French, 40, stabbed builder Christopher Garford, 23 times during a fight on June 3 last year, he then left him to bleed to death on the floor of the Wisbech Arms pub.

Cambridge Crown Court heard how French, who lived above the pub, in Exchange Square, repeatedly thrust a kitchen knife in to Mr Garford’s head, neck and chest during the brutal attack.

He then left Mr Garford, 49, on the floor before waiting 20 minutes to call an ambulance and then made up a story that two foreigners had committed the murder.

Judge Paul Worsley, QC, sentenced French to life in prison and said that he would have to serve a minimum of 15 years.

He said: "You showed no remorse and lied repeatedly. You are a devious and cunning individual."

The judge imposed a life sentence and said, French who had no previous convictions, should not be considered for parole until 2021.

During the three-week trial, the jury was told that the argument had started over late night drinking and that the fight had been sparked after Mr Garford threw a glass at French.

The glass had missed French and sent shards of glass over French’s girlfriend and 10-year-old daughter.

The two men fought until French pulled the knife from his trousers and rained down slashes with the blade.

Speaking after the case Det Supt Mark Birch, said French was a cold calculated and deceitful individual who would have said and done anything to avoid being caught.

He said he had put the family of Mr Garford through turmoil by telling lies and making him out to be a man he was not.

He said: "French is a violent, dangerous man, who carried out a brutal attack on Christopher Garford.

"His children and girlfriend were nearby, as were other witnesses. This did not however deter him.

"Mr Garford was a decent, family man, who suffered a violent and horrific death. The evidence of how Mr Garford died, which has been examined in great detail throughout this trial, has been especially harrowing for his wife and children who have sat through proceedings.

"I hope the culmination of this case allows Mr Garford's family some relief and, although Christopher will never be forgotten, that they feel they are able to begin to put this dreadful ordeal behind them."

He added: "My thoughts, and those of the investigation team, are with them."

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