Life sentence for man who murdered his friend after drinking and smoking cannabis

Luton Crown Court
Luton Crown Court

A Bedford man was jailed for life today (Monday) for murdering his friend after spending the day drinking and smoking cannabis.

Ian Brunner, 47, stabbed John-Mark Duffy in the chest after a fight at a flat in Byron Crescent, Bedford, in January. He pleaded guilty to the murder.

In passing sentence at Luton Crown Court Judge Richard Foster told Brunner he must serve a minimum of 12 and a half years before he could be considered for parole.

The court was told both Mr Duffy, 39, and his killer were members of the “town centre drinking community” in Bedford.

In January, the pair were drinking in the town with a group of other men.

Later in the day both were at the flat of another man in Byron Crescent.

It had been the home of Mr Duffy for the last few years and Brunner too had stayed there in the weeks leading up to the killing.

Anne Evans, prosecuting, said the two men had previously had a fight.

She said: “On that occasion John-Mark Duffy had physically got the better of the defendant.”

Mrs Evans said that day the men had been “drinking and using cannabis” together with Steve Matthews at his flat.

She added: “They returned to Mr Matthews’ flat during the afternoon and smoked some more cannabis. At some point Mr Matthews remembers Mr Duffy asking Ian to make a joint, it seems he couldn’t find any and Mr Duffy started to get agitated.”

The court then heard how both men moved out into the hallway and Mr Matthews could hear raised voices.

They came back into the living room and began grappling with each other.

Mrs Evans said the deceased suddenly lifted his T-shirt and said he had been stabbed and asked Mr Matthews to phone for an ambulance.

The prosecutor said Mr Matthews could see a lot of blood over Mr Duffy’s T-shirt and a small would in his chest.

Moments later he began to lose consciousness and fell to the floor.

Ian Brunner left the flat and Mr Duffy died at the scene.

The defendant was found shortly afterwards walking along Church Road.

When arrested and cautioned he said: “He’s not dead is he. I didn’t intend to kill anyone.”

He said he disposed of the knife in Shakespeare Road, but the court was told it has never been found.

A pathologist found the fatal wound to be 7.5cm deep to the victim’s anterior chest.

In an interview with detectives Brunner said he had gone into the kitchen at the flat in order to arm himself with a knife for protection.

He said when he walked back into the living room Mr Duffy had tried to grab hold of him and so he removed the knife from the waistband of his trousers and moved forward intending to stab the other man in his upper arm to disable him.

Brunner said he was not sure where the blade connected and claimed he just wanted to teach the other man a lesson for being a bully.

He said the deceased man had been his friend and he hadn’t intended to kill him.

The court heard that as a youngster the victim had been gifted and talented excelling in his lessons and keen on sports.

But in his late teens he had started taking heroin which was to change his life completely.