Daniel Kirkwood murder: Knifeman guilty of Midland nightclub stabbing
A knifeman was today found guilty of stabbing an 18-year-old to death at a Midland nightclub, exactly a year after the tragedy.
Tobijah Thompson, 25, who was living in Bearwood at the time, murdered teenager Daniel Kirkwood by stabbing him in the neck.
Mr Kirkwood died in an ambulance after leaving Society nightclub in Coventry.
The tragedy is said to heva started when Mr Kirkwood and friends became involved in a row with Great Barr man Hasham Ali, Warwick Crown Court heard.
Tobijah Thompson, 25, of no fixed address has been found guilty of murder.
Hasham Ali, 19, of Amberley Green in Great Barr, Ezra Scott, 22, of Hawksyard Road in Erdington, and Ramez Murtaza, 21, of Bordesley Green East in Bordesley Green, pleaded guilty to being involved in the violent disorder that resulted in Mr Kirkwood's death.
Murtaza admitted assaulting Mr Kirkwood's friend and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. All four will be sentenced on April 11
Ali is said to have seen one of the victims, Christopher O'Brien, push a girl to whom Ali had earlier given his number.
Violence spiralled when Thompson pulled a knife in front of horrified clubbers, police said, and stabbed Mr Kirkwood in the neck.
Ramez Murtaza threatened the group with a broken bottle and injured another of Mr Kirkwood's friends.
The victims escaped from the club, but Mr Kirkwood collapsed outside as Thompson, Ali, Murtaza and Ezra Scott fled in a silver BMW 'shouting abuse at the group as they left'.
Adjourning the case for Thompson to be sentenced with the other three, Mr Justice Warby told him: "The conviction for murder means, as you know, that I will have to pass a life sentence on you, and that I will have to set a minimum term.
"I am not going to carry out that exercise now. All the sentencing in this case will take place on the 11th of April."
But he warned Thompson: "The sentence for murder is set by law, but the court sets a minimum term. That is what it says, the least amount of time you will spend in prison before the possibility of your release is considered.
"In this case, the minimum term will inevitably be a long one, and one thing I will have to consider is whether the knife you used was brought with you to the scene with the intention of it being used to cause injury.
"If the answer to that is yes, the minimum term for my calculation will be 25 years."
Det Ch Insp Sam Ridding, who led the murder probe, said the attack had been 'devastating'.
He said: "The motive for the attack is believed to have been a disagreement that Ali had with one of Daniel's friends in the club.
"The violence very quickly escalated with Thompson stabbing Daniel and his friends with a knife he'd brought with him as he and the other offenders breezed past security who let them in without searching them.
Detective Chief Inspector Ridding added: "Daniel was a young man with the world at his feet. His premature death was needless and the loss has torn apart the lives of his family and friends.
"They will never recover from their ordeal but I hope that in some way seeing Daniel's killer convicted will help them.
"I hope that today's result reinforces he message that there is no place for people who wish to carry knives in our communities and anyone found to be doing so will be brought to justice."
Mr Kirkwood's mother Pauline Darcy said today: "Dan was the brightest star in our family, he was always laughing, joking and had the biggest smile that everyone noticed.
"Daniel's adult life was just starting, he had plans but these were cruelly taken away from him, we will never see his pride in getting married and starting a family.
"Dan's dad Michael and I are two broken people, changed beyond recognition, the days are dark, the house is empty, the hopes and dreams for our son's future are gone.
"His brother and sisters are devastated and his nieces and nephew miss their uncle Dan. He changed people's lives in his 18 years and we are so proud of him.
"Our thanks go to West Midlands Police and all the staff who have worked on the case with such dedication and professionalism and to Michael Burrows QC for his eloquent presentation of the case."
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