James Byrne murder: Life sentence for Denis O'Neill

Denis O'Neill Denis O'Neill was told he will serve at least 23 years

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A man has been jailed for life for murdering a man in a "violent" knife attack on a street in Merseyside.

At Liverpool Crown Court Denis O'Neill of Old Chester Road, Rock Ferry, was told he will serve at least 23 years.

James Byrne, 38, from Birkenhead, was found at the junction of Old Chester Road and Well Lane in Rock Ferry on 22 September. He later died in hospital.

Steven Johnson, 46, also of Old Chester Road, Rock Ferry, was given 18 months for perverting the course of justice.

'Violent confrontation'

At an earlier hearing, O'Neill, 48, pleaded not guilty to murder and Johnson denied three charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice involving cleaning up blood, trying to influence a witness and providing O'Neill with a change of clothing.

The jury unanimously found them guilty on Monday following a two-week trial.

Police said Mr Byrne was stabbed several times following an argument with the other two men which "escalated into a violent confrontation".

Mr Byrne's mother, Jacqueline Fox, said her son was "one of the kindest people you could ever meet and would help anybody".

"Denis O'Neill has taken away a big part of our lives," she said.

Rachael Barber, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "O'Neill stabbed James Byrne ten times - three times to the head.

"He'd claimed he'd been acting in self-defence but the jury dismissed that.

"This was an awful way for someone to die and the guilty verdicts and considerable sentence for O'Neill should bring some sense of justice to James Byrne's family."

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  1.  
    13:30:

    It's been an incredible three days in Liverpool. The Giants have enchanted a million people in the city and it's sad to see them go.

    Facebook Gallery

    To re-live some of the best moments of the Giants' last day look at this photo gallery on the BBC Radio Merseyside Facebook page.

    Local Live returns tomorrow at 08:00 with all the latest news, sport, weather and travel from around Merseyside.

     
  2.  
    Spectacular boat finale 13:24:

    A giant marionette show commemorating World War One has come to a close with a spectacular river boat finale.

    Giants sail off

    The three giants pulled huge crowds to Liverpool over three days.

    Grandmother, Little Girl and Xolo the dog have now sailed out of the city on the River Mersey in a special leaving ceremony.

    Liverpool City Council confirmed the Memories of August 1914 event was watched by a million people.

     
  3.  
    Xolo cam 13:19: Helen Carter BBC Local Live

    One of my favourite things about the Giants has been Xolo's eye view of the world captured for the BBC.

    Xolo
     
  4.  
    Dazzle ship 13:14: Tom Airey BBC News

    From my Giants' viewing spot at Canning Dock I noticed the Dazzle Ship as part of the Liverpool Biennial (you can see it on the right of the photo).

    dazzle ship

    To learn more about how Dazzle Ships were used, read here.

     
  5.  
    Eye in the sky 13:13:

    The police helicopter got this fantastic shot of the crowds gathered on the waterfront to bid the Giants farewell.

    Aerial shot of crowds in Liverpool

    More than a million people visited Liverpool during the Giants' visit to the city.

     
  6.  
    A Team at the Giants 13:11:

    He's used to helping people with their problems as part of BBC Radio Merseyside's A Team but today Bob (pictured with Ann) has been down to the waterfront to watch the Giants leave Liverpool.

    A-team volunteer Bob with his wife
     
  7.  
    Sleeping Giants 13:10: Helen Carter BBC Local Live

    On my way into work, I was allowed to see the Giants as they slept behind a wall in the dock.

    Little girl giant sleeping

    It was a real privilege to get so close and to have them to myself!

     
  8.  
    Sailing off 13:06: Tom Airey BBC News

    I managed to get this picture of the Giants as they sailed off down the Mersey.

    Giants sailing down the Mersey

    They do look as though they're sleeping very peacefully as they drift off down the river.

     
  9.  
    Don't worry about Xolo 12:58:

    Giant Spectacular tweets: Don't worry about #xolo he's a naughty dog folks and ran on ahead! He won't forget his little girl giant #xoloissafeandsound

     
  10.  
    Look at the crowd! 12:52: Owen Walker BBC Local Live

    Just look at the many thousands of people who gathered to see the Giants leave Liverpool.

    Crowds watching the Giants leave Liverpool
     
  11.  
    Travel advice 12:47:

    Merseyrail tweets: All Wirral line customers travelling from Lime Street lower level, please use the entrance on St Georges plateau

     
  12.  
    Wipe the tear baby dear 12:39: Andy Gill BBC North West Tonight

    tweets: Wipe the tear baby dear from your eye- ee @BBCNWT 5 & 1023 @GiantSpectacle

    Giants leaving Liverpool via boat
     
  13.  
    Long goodbyes 12:34: BBC Radio Merseyside

    The moment we started to say our long goodbyes! Goodbye Giants, we're going to miss you.

    Giants being lowered onto the boat which took them away
     
  14.  
    One million visitors for Giants 12:30: Andy Gill BBC North West Tonight

    Councillor Wendy Simon says Liverpool has hit the one million mark for visitors to the Giants.

     
  15.  
    Leaving of Liverpool 12:28:

    Cllr Andrew Foxley tweets: The Leaving of Liverpool #liverpoolgiants @GiantSpectacle

    Giants leaving Liverpool
     
  16.  
    Thousands gathered 12:23:

    Thousands gathered to watch the end of the Giants' visit to Liverpool.

    Grandmother Giant

    It's estimated up to a million people watched the event over three days.

    Find out more on the BBC News website.

     
  17.  
    View from above 12:18:

    Giant Spectacular tweets: View from above earlier #goodbyegiants

    View from above of Giants
     
  18.  
    Best seats 12:16: Tom Airey BBC News

    The people living in the flats around Canning Dock have had the best seats in the house today.

    Apartments around Canning Dock
     
  19.  
    Goodbye Giants 12:14: Andy Gill BBC North West Tonight

    Goodbye to the Little Girl and Grandma.

    Giants leaving

    They're sleeping soundly in their beds as a little green boat carries them out of Canning Dock and onto the River Mersey.

     
  20.  
    Off they go 12:11: Tom Airey BBC News

    The Giants leave the docks and float into the distance.

    Giants sail away

    A girl nearby says: "I want them to come back".

    We will have to wait and see if they visit this city for a third time, but I'm sure they would be most welcome.

     
  21.  
    Giants are leaving 12:10: Jimmy McCracken BBC Radio Merseyside

    The Pals are beginning to march away as the Giants are lowered into a green boat in Canning Dock.

    People are everywhere, they're even lining the rooftops to say goodbye to the Giants.

    And the boat is starting to move away.

     
  22.  
    One last walk 12:07: Andy Gill BBC North West Tonight

    As she prepares to leave the city the Grandmother Giant took one last walk down the Strand.

    Grandma walking down the Strand

    You can watch my reports on North West Tonight later.at 17:00 and 22:30 on BBC One.

     
  23.  
    Swathed in smoke 12:03: Claire Hamilton BBC Radio Merseyside

    The Grandma and Girl Giant are swathed in white smoke as they set sail from Canning Dock and prepare to leave Liverpool.

    Boats producing smoke

    Everyone is craning to catch a glimpse as they depart, they're even hanging out of windows, amid cheers and applause.

     
  24.  
    Don't go! 12:02: Paul Salt BBC Radio Merseyside

    The Grandmother and Girl Giant were lowered on their beds by a crane onto a green ship.

    Giants levitating in beds

    Both beds were lowered onto the boat which has done a circuit of Canning Dock before heading out into the Mersey.

     
  25.  
    Magical tartan slippers 11:58: Claire Hamilton BBC Radio Merseyside

    There's something about those tartan slippers that's magical. A grandma is such a special person - this Grandmother joins those lists!

    Grandma's slippers
     
  26.  
    Cranes lift Giants 11:51: Tom Airey BBC News

    Action! The cranes pick up Grandmother and Little Girl, both lying in beds.

    Cranes pick up Giants

    They are dropped safely in a boat in Canning Dock and await departure. Quite a manoeuvre!

     
  27.  
    Look at Grandmother 11:45:

    Michele Martin sent this stunning close-up of Grandmother Giant.

    Grandmother Giant
     
  28.  
    Very busy 11:42:

    Merseytravel tweets: Public transport will be very busy once @GiantSpectacle finishes - if you can, stagger your journey home and enjoy the sights around L'pool

     
  29.  
    Man behind the Giants 11:40: Steve Coleman BBC Radio Merseyside

    Take a look at this video on our Facebook page of The man behind the Giants - Jean-Luc - Genius, fashion guru, dancer! On his way to Canning Dock.

    Jean Luc Courcoult
     
  30.  
    Pipes in Albert Dock 11:35: Billy Butler BBC Radio Merseyside

    The pipes are coming in to the Albert Dock. Although Xolo is still entertaining the crowd. Looks like we're getting ready for the big climax.

    pipe band

    Both Grandmother Giant and Little Girl are lying down on a bed.

    I asked Jean-Luc Courcoult why they are lying down and he said: "They are knackered."

     
  31.  
    What a day 11:33: Jenny Summers BBC Radio Merseyside

    What a day, what a day, what a day - this is absolutely incredible! Looking at Xolo licking the children in the crowd!

    Xolo meeting the crowds

    The Giants are starting to turn round next to the Kings Dock and are heading back towards Canning Dock where they will board a boat and leave the city.

     
  32.  
    Life of a Lilliputian 11:30: Chris Long BBC News

    Wallasey's Colin Bordley is living the life of a Lilliputian once again this weekend.

    Colin Bordley on rope

    The 46-year-old worked as one of the team driving the diver giant in 2012 and is on the cymbals this time around.

    He spoke to me about why working with giants is hard work but "definitely fun".

     
  33.  
    Xolo is like my dog! 11:27: Paul Salt BBC Radio Merseyside

    To me Xolo is a real dog. He has all the mannerisms of my dog!

    Xolo the dog
     
  34.  
    Postcards with WW1 message 11:25:

    Giant Spectacular tweets: Postcards to tell #ww1 message are fired #goodbyegiants @LivEchonews@bbcmerseyside@BBCNWT

    Postcards being fired into the crowd
     
  35.  
    On air later 11:24: Andy Gill BBC North West Tonight

    We're on air tonight on BBC One at 17:00 and 22:30 where you can watch full coverage of the Giants.

    Grandmother Giant
     
  36.  
    James Street station closed 11:20:

    Merseyrail tweets: James St station is now closed & will reopen at 3pm, Northern Line passengers can use Moorfields & Wirral line passengers can use Lpool Ctl

     
  37.  
    Getting ready to say goodbye 11:18: Paul Salt BBC Radio Merseyside

    Wow! Everyone's getting ready to say goodbye to the magical Giants as they prepare to leave Liverpool via a boat in Canning Dock.

    Crowds at Canning Dock

    Listen live to BBC Radio Merseyside for all the latest on the Giants' last day in city.

     
  38.  
    Ship scares children 11:17: Tom Airey BBC News

    The crowds are still waiting for something to happen down at Canning Dock. A passing ship on the Mersey just tooted a fog horn, made a few children jump!

     
  39.  
    Why you love the Giants 11:15: via Facebook

    You've been having your say about the Giants.

    Louise O'Leary says: they're leaving at noon....what a fab couple of days

    Val Mulligan says: the atmosphere from the radio is amazing and it fells like these are real people and there dog amazing and fantastic xx

    Samantha Reynolds says: The workmanship just to walk them down the street is amazing x

     
  40.  
    Widows in the rain 11:10: Andy Gill BBC North West Tonight

    tweets: #WW1 widows in the rain on #liverpoolgiants farewell parade @BBCNWT@1418NOW@GiantSpectacle #Liverpool

    World War One Widows
     
  41.  
    One last look 11:09:

    Giant Spectacular tweets: One last look #goodbyegiants #sleepwell

    last look at Giants
     
  42.  
    Giant slippers 11:06: Helen Jones BBC Radio Merseyside

    I enjoyed standing between the slippers of Grandmother Giant when she was at St George's Hall.

    Giant with Helen Jones
     
  43.  
    Strolling down the Strand 11:04:

    Check out this video on BBC Radio Merseyside's Facebook page of Grandmother Giant as she strolls down the Strand.

    Strolling down the Strand
     
  44.  
    Travel advice 11:02:

    Merseyrail tweets: We advise people travelling on the Northern line to use Moorfields and people using the Wirral line to use Liverpool Central

     
  45.  
    She's our Giant! 10:57: Steve Coleman BBC Radio Merseyside

    I think we'll just call her our Merseyside Little Girl Giant from now on!

    Little Girl Giant
     
  46.  
    Huge crowds 10:54: Sue Owen, BBC Radio Merseyside

    People are already three-deep along the Mersey past the Pier Head waiting for the Giants to pass them on their boat in a couple of hours.

    No one wants to miss anything!

     
  47.  
    Happy Xolo 10:51: Jimmy McCracken BBC Radio Merseyside

    A running Xolo is a happy Xolo!

    Xolo running
     
  48.  
    'Love the people' 10:50: Jimmy McCracken BBC Radio Merseyside

    I just spoke to the creator of the Giants Jean-Luc Courcoult as he went down the Strand with the parade.

    Jean-Luc Courcoult

    "I'm not happy but I love the people of Liverpool," he told me. I don't know why, he should be as happy as anything!

     
  49.  
    Facebook Gallery 10:49: Steve Coleman BBC Radio Merseyside

    I've added a few more pictures to our gallery of the Giants' second day in Liverpool.

    Facebook Gallery

    You can see it on BBC Radio Merseyside's Facebook page.

     
  50.  
    Canning Dock Busy 10:47: Tom Airey BBC News

    Canning Dock is now very busy!

    Canning Dock Very Busy

    Music has started on the PA (dangling from a crane) and a couple of safety boats have taken to the water.

     
  51.  
    Pals line the route 10:42: BBC Radio Merseyside

    tweets: The Pals line the route, remembering WW1. "@GiantSpectacle: #pals ##ww1 pic.twitter.com/FXGaCpbkgy"

    Liverpool Pals lining the route of the parade
     
  52.  
    Fire engine soaks marchers 10:31: Tom Airey BBC News

    After the drummers, we have an old fire engine soaking marchers ahead (despite them all having small umbrellas).

    Grandma making her way down the Strand

    Grandmother and Little Girl then emerge. Large cymbals crash together and ticker tape falls from the sky.

     
  53.  
    Xolo passes pier head 10:19: Tom Airey BBC News

    Xolo is the first Giant to pass Pier Head, it shouldn't take long for the dog to reach Canning Dock.

    Xolo the dog

    A parade following closely behind includes pipers, people dressed in 1914 clothes and drummers.

     
  54.  
    Grandma looked at me 10:16: Jenny Summers BBC Radio Merseyside

    This is the first time I've seen the Grandma and I swear she just looked right at me!

    Grandma giant

    The facial expressions and the way she interacts with the crowd are just beautiful.

     
  55.  
    Taking in the sights 10:15: BBC Radio Merseyside

    The Little Girl Giant is taking in the sights and sounds of the Strand! Hurrah!!

    Little Girl Giant on the Strand
     
  56.  
    Pretty busy 10:10: BBC Radio Merseyside

    tweets: The strand in #liverpool is already looking pretty busy! #giants

    People gathering on the Strand
     
  57.  
    Beautiful moment 10:09: Tom Airey BBC News

    I love this picture of the Little Girl Giant and the Grandma hugging.

    Little Girl Giant and the Grandma hugging

    If you have any pictures of the Giants you'd like to share with us send them to merseyside.locallive@bbc.co.uk or tweet @bbcmerseyside.

     
  58.  
    More services on Merseyrail 10:05: Nick Hatfield BBC Radio Merseyside

    Merseyrail has put on extra services this morning following a very busy day in Liverpool on Saturday.

    Lime Street Station was so packed at one point spectators were advised to find an alternative way home with train tickets being accepted on Arriva and Stagecoach buses. James Street Station also had to close.

     
  59.  
    Road closures 10:05:

    There are a number of road closures across Liverpool city centre today to allow for the Giants' final parade through the city.

    You can find a full list here.

     
  60.  
    Marching to war 10:04: Andy Gill BBC North West Tonight

    Check out my Vine of the Liverpool Pals marching to war.

    Liverpool Pals marching to war

    I'll be bringing you a full report on the Giants' last day in Liverpool on North West Tonight at 17:00.

     
  61.  
    Something in the air 10:01: Billy Butler BBC Radio Merseyside

    We're down wind of the Granny. There's something in the air. I think it's vanilla.

    Reporter Jimmy McCracken is now bereft of adjectives - if you can think of any please text us on 83333 with the word Mersey.

     
  62.  
    They've woken up 09:55: Jenny Summers BBC Radio Merseyside

    The Grandma and Little Girl have just woken up. It looks as though Grandma is planning to walk down the Strand, I guess she has spent a lot of time in her wheelchair over the past few days.

    It's just absolutely fantastic being down here with all the people trying to catch a glimpse as they go past.

     
  63.  
    All out window display 09:51: Tom Airey BBC News

    Some of the shops in Liverpool One are embracing the large visitors. This place has gone all-out with the window display.

    Shopfront display
     
  64.  
    Ready for the off 09:43: BBC Radio Merseyside

    Grandmother Giant may still be asleep but she looks like she is ready for the off!

    Grandma ready for the off
     
  65.  
    As it happened
     
  66.  
    When do they wake up? 09:38: Helen Carter BBC Local Live

    The Giants were expected to wake up at 10:00 today but Xolo is already on the move! Crowds gather along the Strand for a good view.

    Crowds gather
     
  67.  
    A bit of a giveaway 09:36: Tom Airey BBC News

    Some people have decided to head straight to Canning Dock, where the Giants will leave the city at lunchtime.

    Cranes at Canning Dock

    The cranes are always a bit of a giveaway about where the main action is going to be.

     
  68.  
    The Giants will roam here 09:31: Paul Salt BBC Radio Merseyside

    I'm on air with my good friend Claire Hamilton for the Giants' finale. This is our view!

    on air view

    Listen live to BBC Radio Merseyside.

     
  69.  
    Close view of Girl Giant 09:27: Helen Carter BBC Local Live

    I managed to get a close view of the Giants' today as I took an early morning stroll to the dock where they're sleeping. Little Girl Giant is stunning close up.

    Giant

    Do you have any pictures you'd like to share? Tweet us.

     
  70.  
    Where will they be? 09:20:

    Here is where the Giants will be during their final day in Liverpool.

    Giant graphics

    Please be aware as this is a live show times are subject to change.

     
  71.  
    Tucked up in bed 09:19:

    Last night the Little Girl Giant, her dog Xolo and the Grandma slept at Clarence Dock.

    Little Girl Giant tucked up in bed

    Today they will make their way down the Strand, board a boat and leave Liverpool via the Mersey.

     
  72.  
    'Didn't mind the queues' 09:15: Lynette Horsburgh BBC News

    There were huge queues at Lime Street Station last night with large numbers of people leaving the city after the Giants had gone to sleep.

    Jade and Fiona Marshall

    I met nine-year-old Jade Marshall, with her aunt Fiona, in the queue who said she didn't mind the wait as it meant she got to stay up late.

    She thought the giants were fantastic. She got really close up view of Grandmotehr Giant on Paradise Street and thought she was really funny. "She's not ladylike like my Gran," she said.

     
  73.  
    Dancing Lilliputians 09:09: Andy Gill BBC North West Tonight

    Take a look at my short video of dancing Lilliputians.

    Dancing Lilliputians
     
  74.  
    Mainly cloudy 09:09: Charlie Slater Weather Presenter, BBC North West Today

    It'll be a mainly cloudy day for most though there will also be some occasional bright spells at times.

    Weather graphic for 10:00 on 27.07.2014

    Look out for some showers later that have the potential to turn heavy on a much cooler day with highs of 20C (68F).

     
  75.  
    A Giant good morning! 09:00: Owen Walker BBC Local Live

    It's the Giants' last day in Liverpool. It's been a wonderful few days and, as before, we will be bringing you all the latest on their final trek through the city.

    Don't forget you can send your pictures or get in contact with us by emailing merseyside.locallive@bbc.co.uk or tweeting @bbcmerseyside.

     

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