Daniel Kirkwood murder: Killer jailed for at least 32 years over nightclub stabbing
A knifeman who stabbed a an 18-year-old to death in a Midland nightclub has today been locked up for at least 32 years.
A teenager from Great Barr has also been jailed for 29 months for his role in the night of violence.
Daniel Kirkwood was out celebrating a friend's 18th birthday when Tobijah Thompson plunged a knife into his neck at a Coventry nightclub. Two of Daniel's friends were also stabbed - one in the arm and one in the back.
The injured teenagers managed to get out of the club but as they reached the road outside Daniel collapsed.
And as Daniel lay fatally injured, Thompson and three friends drove off in a silver BMW shouting abuse as they left.
Daniel died before reaching hospital after going into cardiac arrest as a result of his injuries
Thompson, 25, will now spend at least 32 years in jail after being found guilty of Daniel's murder.
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Daniel's mum Pauline Darcy today said: "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."
Thompson, who divided his time between his sister's home in Bearwood and an address in Towpath Close, Bedworth, had denied murdering Daniel on March 15 last year.
But last month a jury at Warwick Crown Court found him guilty of Daniels murder and of wounding two of Daniel's friends, Nigel Mkhwananzi and Niall Kavanagh, with intent to cause them grievous bodily harm, and violent disorder. The verdicts were entered on the first anniversary of the 18-year-old's death.
He was also convicted of possessing a bladed article in Society night club and assaulting another of Daniel's friends, Christopher O'Brien, whose 18th birthday they were celebrating.
And the judge revealed today that how Thompson had taken the knife into the club without being searched, because of his friendship with the security guards.
Hasham Ali, Ramez Murtaza and Ezra Scott, had all pleaded guilty during the trial to violent disorder, having originally been jointly charged with the murder and woundings, and Murtaza also admitted Daniel's manslaughter by acting in support of Thompson.
Murtaza, 21, of Bordesley Green East, Bordesley Green, was jailed for eight years for manslaughter, with concurrent terms of three years and four months for violent disorder and two years and ten months for assault.
Detective Chief Inspector Ridding, who led the murder investigation, said: "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 behind bars will help them.
"I hope that today's sentencing reinforces the 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."
For their parts in the violent disorder Ali, 19, of Amberley Green, Great Barr, was jailed for 29 months and Scott, 32, of Hawksyard Road, Erdington, Birmingham, for 28 months.
Prosecutor Michael Burrows QC revealed that Daniel's mother Pauline Darcy had learned of her son's death 'at the hand of a coward' at 5.30 in the morning on Mother's Day last year.
After being given the terrible news, she went into Daniel's bedroom where she found his Mother's Day card to her and read his 'heartbreaking' message.
Mr Burrows also disclosed that Mr Mkhwananzi would also have died after being stabbed in the back by Thompson, if it had not been for rapid medical attention; while Mr Kavanagh has still not regained full use of the arm in which he was stabbed, and has only recently been able to hold a cup without dropping it.
Jailing the four, Mr Justice Mark Warby QC said the violence in the nightclub had been started by Ali, and both he and Thompson, who had joined him, were knocked to the floor.
Mr Justice Warby said Thompson should never have been allowed in the club with a knife, but he had not been searched because he knew the head of security and was treated as a VIP and allowed straight in.
"Those in charge of security at the club that night have some questions to answer," the judge observed.
He said he did not find the others knew Thompson had the knife on him when they arrived, but they must have seen it at different stages after he brandished it.
And Murtaza had 'jumped in and provoked a resumption of the violence' by picking up a broken bottle and heading towards the 'birthday group' after seeing Thompson with the knife.
Mr Justice Warby said a measure of Murtaza'a callousness was abuse he shouted, as he and the others drove away, at the group of Daniel's friends who were trying to help him as he lay dying on the ground.
And the judge told Ali and Scott they were 'supporters and encouragers of the violence inflicted on Christopher O'Brien.'
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