A MAN convicted of murdering his brother in a drunken rage after a “trivial” row at their family home must spend at least the next 21 years behind bars.

William Campbell fatally stabbed his younger brother Samuel in the chest after a disagreement in the back garden at the address in Silksworth, Sunderland, in the early hours of Friday June 18, last year.

The now 26-year-old defendant, from Stokesley, North Yorkshire, told officers at the scene that his brother was “coming at him” which led to him taking the knife from the kitchen, removing it from its sheath before confronting his 24-year-old sibling back in the garden.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that Samuel told his brother: “Come on”, probably not believing he would use the knife.

But, in sentencing William today, Judge Paul Sloan told him, “in his rage”, he went on to deliver a single blow, “plunging” the knife 9.5cm into his chest cavity, reaching the right ventricle of the heart, in the presence of their mother Carolyn, who had been trying to act as a peacemaker.

Samuel collapsed after a short time and William immediately tried to resuscitate him, while their mother rang the emergency services.

Despite the best efforts of paramedics, Samuel was pronounced dead at the scene at 1.43am.

Campbell, who was arrested on suspicion of murder, told police in the living room of the house: “I stabbed him out of rage.”

But Judge Sloan said: “Your stance, thereafter, was to do all in your power to avoid criminal responsibility.”

He initially raised the issue of “self-defence”, then in his defence statement he claimed the stabbing was “completely accidental”, maintaining that through his trial at the court last month, also adding the partial defence of lack of intent.

But Judge Sloan said: “The jury saw through your lies and convicted you of murder.”

Although the former council refuse worker and Matalan store assistant, of Allen Court, Stokesley, has no previous offences on his record, the court was told evidence was found on his own computer of him previously displaying violence to his younger brother, even sometimes having used a weapon and causing injury.

Judge Sloan added the fact he took the knife even a short distance and used it with such force in the area targeted should have made it obvious there would be a high risk of death, had William been sober.

The court heard both brothers had been drinking separately through the previous evening into the early hours of June 18.

William had returned to his mother's home after drinking heavily, mostly vodka, with a friend at a pub in Sunderland, while Samuel had been drinking bourbon while stoking a small fire in the back garden at the property in Park Avenue.

The initial row, over Samuel’s dog Marley, was said to be a relatively trivial issue.

But in his state of intoxication, William took it further, despite his mother trying to calm her son.

The judge said he believed Campbell’s autism spectrum disorder, diagnosed since the offence, “didn’t blur his thinking”.

Passing a life sentence, Judge Sloan said the minimum term Campbell must spend behind bars before being able to be considered for release by the Parole Board, is 21 years.

He said: "It must be looked at in the context of a history between the brothers including a history of violence beyond normal sibling disagreements."

Detective Chief Inspector Jane Fairlamb, of Northumbria Police, said: “This has been a most tragic case and my thoughts remain with the Campbell family, Samuel’s girlfriend and all loved ones during what has been a devastating time for them.

“I would like to thank them for their cooperation and support during the investigation.”

She added: “When William made the decision to pick up a knife after an argument with his brother, he ruined two lives forever.

“William now starts a long sentence behind bars, giving him plenty of time to consider the devastating impact of his actions.

“I sincerely hope this acts as a reminder to everyone about the potential dangers of carrying a knife and the severe consequences that can follow.”

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