James Byrne murder: Life sentence for Denis O'Neill

Denis O'Neill Image copyright Police
Image caption Denis O'Neill was told he will serve at least 23 years

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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