Police have spoken of the “tragic loss” of a young man enjoying his student life in the North East, following the conviction and sentencing of his killer.

Aaron Ray, 21, who was found guilty of the murder of boyfriend Jason Brockbanks following a seven-day trial at Newcastle Crown Court, on Tuesday, was today (Thursday, March 23) given a life sentence, with a minimum term of 22 years behind bars.

The sentencing judge, Mr Justice Martin Spencer, said Ray went into a jealous rage after finding sexualised messages from other men on Mr Brockbanks’ phone, as his boyfriend slept in his bed in his student flat in Newcastle, in the early hours of September 24, last year.

He then took a knife from the communal kitchen area, stabbed Mr Brockbanks as he slept in his bed, including the fatal wound to his torso.

Read more: Life sentence with minimum term of 22 years for killer Aaron Ray

Ray then washed the knife of blood and replaced it in the kitchen drawer, before gathering his belongings and leaving the fourth-floor flat, in the Mansion Tyne block, in Howard Street.

The judge said as Ray was seen on CCTV walking away from the complex, towards Newcastle city centre, listening to music on his headphones he did not appear to have, “a care in the world”, as Mr Brockbanks was bleeding to death back in his flat.

Ray took a taxi from the city’s Central Station to his parents’ home in Sunderland, where he was arrested almost four days later, on suspicion of Mr Brockbanks’ murder.

The deceased’s partly decomposed body had by then been found, in his shower cubicle, following a welfare check on the afternoon of September 27, after his family raised concerns having not heard from their son for several days.

Ray, of Mayfield Road, South Hylton, Sunderland, denied murder, maintaining that he used the knife in self-defence to try to fend off Mr Brockbanks, who he claimed attacked him after he confronted him about the messages on his phone.

But the judge said interviewing officers and, later at the trial, members of the jury saw through his, “web of lies”, leading to his conviction on a unanimous verdict.

Following today’s imposition of the life sentence with a minimum term of 22 years on Ray, the senior investigating officer in the case, Detective Inspector Tomasz Fowler, of Northumbria Police, described it as, “a truly tragic case”.

He said: “A popular young man lost his life and our thoughts very much remain with Jason’s heartbroken family, friends and loved ones.

“Jason was enjoying his life as a student in Newcastle and that was cruelly cut short by the actions of Aaron Ray, who was cold and calculating in fatally wounding Jason and then leaving the scene of the crime.

Read more: Aaron Ray to be sentenced for murder of Jason Brockbanks, on Thursday

“There has been no evidence at all throughout this investigation to support Ray’s claim that Jason was violent or aggressive in any way and it was clear that his fellow students saw him as a friendly and sociable person.

“Thanks to the hard work of our officers, we were able to quickly identify Ray as the person responsible, apprehend him and get him before the courts.

“I’m pleased that he has now been given the conviction and sentence he deserves.”

He added: “I’d also like to thank Jason’s loved ones for their patience, co-operation and the dignity they have shown throughout the investigation and subsequent court proceedings.

“We hope that the outcome of the trial will help provide a degree of closure for them in seeing the person responsible for this heinous crime brought to justice.

“No-one wins when violence occurs and I hope what has taken place sends a clear message to anyone who believes that such actions are acceptable.

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“The consequences are devastating and can rip not only yours but the lives of others apart.”

Mr Brockbanks had only just turned 24 the day after his arrival back in Newcastle from his home in Whitehaven, Cumbria, preparing for the new academic year at Northumbria University, ten days prior to his death.

Members of the police team involved in the investigation were praised by the trial judge for their efforts in helping to build the case against Ray, which led to his ultimate conviction.