A MAN who was convicted of murder as a teenager and released early from a life sentence was back behind bars last night for breaking the jaw of a love rival.

Carl Davies was jailed for attacking the man when he saw him kissing his ex-partner late at night in a street, The Northern Echo can reveal.

Davies, now 38, was just 17 when he was given a life sentence in 1993 for kicking to death a man at his home in Darlington.

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He was given a minimum tariff of 11 years, but was freed after ten for the progress he made behind bars, Teesside Crown Court was told.

The court heard on Friday that he had led an almost blameless life for ten years after his release, had found various jobs and had a child.

In May last year - after splitting from his girlfriend when he believed she was having an affair - Davies was out in Darlington town centre.

He saw his former partner with the man he thought she had been cheating with, and approached them as they kissed behind the Boyes store.

The man threw a punch at Davies who then walked away, but returned, thumped his love rival in the face and knocked him to the ground.

Prosecutor Sue Jacobs said the single blow broke the victim's jaw and fractured his cheekbone - and still causes numbness to his chin.

In an impact statement, he says he was off work for six weeks after the assault, and returned only to light duties.

Davies fled after the attack, but was caught by a doorman, who he told: "Don't get the police. I'm on life licence and will go back to jail."

Dan Cordey, mitigating, described the punch as "excessive self-defence" and said Davies could have been returned to jail immediately.

Instead, he received a final warning - but now will not be freed unless the Home Secretary and the Probation Service approve his release.

Recorder David Dixon, jailed Davies, of Grasmere Road, Darlington, for 12 months after he admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm.

The judge told him: "It may have been revenge on the spur of the moment, but it was not excessive self-defence as has been submitted.

"You were on life-licence and shouldn't have gone anywhere near this sort of activity - you should've continued walking away, but didn't."

Mr Cordey urged the judge to suspend the jail term and said: "He was released in his mid-20s and he had to rebuild his life.

"He has been trying to do that, essentially, ever since.

"At the moment, he has his own house, a daughter. He has, to a certain extent, limited skills, but has tried very hard to work."

Mr Recorder Dixon told Davies he had good references and was well-thought of, but should have avoided the confrontation on May 3.

In April 1992, a 58-year-old man, described as "vulnerable" was kicked to death at his flat in Bisley Court on the Red Hall estate.

Davies was convicted of murder after a trial, while a friend who was part of the gang attack admitted manslaughter and got two-and-a-half years.

Three other teenagers were cleared of murder, but admitted violent disorder.