A MOTHER has described how her “life had ended” the day her son was murdered by his life-long friend.

James Murphy, 21, had earlier pleaded guilty to the murder of Lucas Bishop, 20, after he stabbed him in the neck in the street.

Murphy, of Berwick Hills, Middlesbrough, was jailed for life at Newcastle Crown Court and was told he must serve a minimum of 18-and-a-half years before he can be considered for release.

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Andrew Robertson, QC prosecuting, said Mr Bishop was stabbed with a kitchen knife shortly before 6.45 am on Sunday, September 8, last year.

His jugular vein was cut and he was also stabbed six times in the back.

Mr Bishop’s body was found shortly after 7.30am by which time he was probably already dead.

Mr Robertson explained Murphy and Mr Bishop, who were long-term friends living near each other, had spent much of the previous day and night together.

They had drunk cider and taken drugs, including sleeping pills, at woods near their homes, but argued and had a fist fight at about 6.20am.

Afterwards they separated and Murphy went to his grandparents' house and collected a kitchen knife and then stabbed Mr Bishop at Ellerby Green, Middlesbrough.

Shortly afterwards Murphy, of Westerdale Road, admitted the crime to his grandmother’s partner, David Carsley, but did not hand himself into police.

Extracts from a statement made by Mr Bishop’s mother, Jane Bishop, were read to the court.

It said: “James Murphy has not taken one life, he has taken all our lives.

"To know we allowed him into our home, knowing he has gone on to take Lucas’ life is indescribable. You live constantly with the image of how his life was ended.

"I feel he (Murphy) has all his life. My life ended when he took Lucas away from me.”

Adrian Waterman, QC mitigating, said Murphy was bullied by Mr Bishop and he believed Mr Bishop intended to hurt his family and took the knife to protect them.

He added Murphy lashed out with the knife with his eyes closed and had not intended to kill.

Judge James Goss, QC sentencing, said: “The death of Lucas Bishop was entirely needless. It is an awful shock to the family and something from which some of them may never recover.”

Speaking afterwards, DI Mark Dimelow said: "In September last year the community of Berwick Hills in Middlesbrough were horrified by the violent murder of Lucas Bishop in the street near his own home.

"Lucas was well known within the local community and his family have been left devastated by his murder.

"The murder investigation team managed to build a compelling case against James Murphy which has today resulted in his conviction as guilty.

"I would like to thank all of those witnesses who were brave enough to come forward and provide statements and were willing to attend court if necessary to give evidence.

"I would also like to pay tribute to the family of Lucas Bishop, who throughout this terrible time have acted with dignity and composure.

"Throughout the investigation and during his interviews, Murphy has shown no remorse or compassion for his victim. He is an extremely dangerous and violent individual who will now face a substantial time in jail so that the communities of Cleveland can be protected."