A KILLER has been told he must serve at least 25 years of a life sentence for the murder of a vulnerable man.

The body of 59-year-old Steven Coulter, who had been stabbed in the chest, was discovered by a friend in his Newcastle home on July 13, four days after he died.

Jason Downey, 45, of Heaton Hall Road was convicted following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court and sentenced on Thursday.

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Detective Inspector David English, of Northumbria Police, said: “This has been a difficult case for all the family and our thoughts remain with them. I hope Steven’s family can seek some solace in today’s verdict and begin to rebuild their lives.

“I want to praise Steven’s family for being so strong and supportive throughout the investigation and I also want to thank the local community in Heaton for the help that they gave officers while carrying out enquiries.”

“We still don’t know what motivated the brutal attack on Steven, he was left lying on his bed where he died of his wound.

“This conviction means a dangerous and violent man has been apprehended and taken off our streets. Today he will begin to face up to the consequences of his actions when he starts his prison sentence.”

A bottle found at the scene had Downey’s fingerprint and the victim’s blood on it.

A statement released by the Coulter family said he was a ‘lovely man’ and loved ones were devastated by his death.

It said: “Steven was a very vulnerable man and he was supposed to be protected living in supported accommodation but he wasn’t.

“We also want to thank the jury for listening to all the evidence and for putting this monster behind bars for this vicious attack on Steven.”