Beds, Herts & Bucks

Andrew Mason death: Drug dealer jailed for murder

Matthew Fathers Image copyright Hertfordshire Constabulary
Image caption Matthew Fathers has been jailed for a minimum of 23 years

A drug dealer who murdered a father who was "in the wrong place at the wrong time" has been jailed for a minimum of 23 years.

Matthew Fathers, 30, stabbed 31-year-old Andrew Mason to death on 16 June.

Mr Mason came out of his flat in Welwyn Garden City to find a violent dispute taking place on the landing.

At St Albans Crown Court, Judge Michael Kay QC said the murder demonstrated the "sordid, vicious and dangerous world of drug dealing".

Fathers, of Little Hardings, Welwyn, had denied murder and claimed he acted in self-defence but was found guilty on Friday.

Image copyright Hertfordshire Police
Image caption Andrew Mason died after being stabbed in a communal area of a block of flats

Crack cocaine dealer Fathers was trying to stop Darryl Daley robbing him of drugs on the top floor of the block of flats in the latest incident in a violent "feud" between the pair, the court heard.

Fathers had taken to carrying a large knife for protection and tried, and failed, to stab Daley.

Mr Mason came out of his flat at Moyne House in Ley Walk after hearing the commotion.

He stood on the landing to stop another man who knew Fathers from coming out of a flat and getting involved in what was happening, the judge said.

Sentencing Fathers, Judge Kay said: "You turned towards Andrew Mason because you wanted to get through the door and into the flat and you stabbed him twice with considerable force."

There was "nothing to indicate" Mr Mason was armed or involved in the robbery, he added.

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Police cordoned off an area around Moyne House in Welwyn Garden City after the fatal stabbing

After the hearing, Mr Mason's father Adrian said: "Our love for Andy is indescribable and forever ongoing.

"We will never recover from his tragic and senseless death and will carry it with us for the rest of our lives."

Darryl Daley, of Moss Green, Welwyn Garden City, was found guilty of the attempted robbery of Fathers and will be sentenced on 25 January.

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