Man sentenced for murder over drugs row

01/04/2014

A man has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for murdering a man in a row in a street on the Wirral.

A jury at Liverpool Crown Court unanimously found Denis O'Neill, 48, of Old Chester Road, Birkenhead, guilty of the murder of 38-year-old James Byrne.
 O'Neill's friend, Steven Johnson, 45, also of Old Chester Road, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice and has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

The court heard Johnson had tried to clear up the evidence at the scene of the murder and said he knew nothing about a knife missing from his home.

James Byrne was found lying in Old Chester Road near Well Lane in Rock Ferry shortly after 11pm on September 22 last year.

Hed been stabbed several times and died the following day in hospital.
 O'Neill had been arguing with Byrne over drugs and the row quickly escalated into violence.

Rachael Barber, Senior Crown Prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service Mersey-Cheshire said: "This was a very violent and brutal murder.

"O'Neill had claimed in court that hed been acting in self-defence but the jury dismissed that.

"O'Neill stabbed James Byrne ten times - three times to the head.

"This was an awful way for someone to die and the guilty verdicts and considerable sentence for ONeill should bring some sense of justice to James Byrnes family."