A murderer has been told he will serve a minimum of 14-years in prison after he fatally knocked out a drinker following a row about a puppy.

Richard Smith-Slater lashed out with a dog lead before delivering four-knockout blows when Craig Gill grabbed hold of him to try and stop him leaving Blakes bar.

The 33-year-old then posted a boxing glove emoji on social media to boast about his violent behaviour in the Newton Aycliffe bar on July 8 last year.

Nick Dry, prosecuting, told Teesside Crown Court that the murder was committed while Smith-Slater was on bail for two charges of causing actual bodily harm but they were subsequently discontinued.

The Northern Echo: Craig GillCraig Gill (Image: Durham Constabulary)

“The murder was committed at a time when the defendant was heavily intoxicated by alcohol and drugs. It is known that he drank 11 pints of beer on that day,” he said.

“The offence was committed in a public space and there were children present.

“The posting of the boxing glove (on social media) shows a lack of genuine remorse on his part.”

The 61-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest and was taken to James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, where he died five days later.

The Northern Echo: Forensic officer working in Blakes bar in Newton Aycliffe following the fatal attack of Craig GillForensic officer working in Blakes bar in Newton Aycliffe following the fatal attack of Craig Gill (Image: TERRY BLACKBURN)

Owen Edwards KC, representing Smith-Slater, told the judge that his client’s two young children would no longer have their father in their lives throughout the remainder of their childhoods following his conviction.

“Nothing I say is calculated to minimise the seriousness of this case or the terrible anguish caused to the family of Craig Gill,” he said. “Mr Smith-Slater will receive a life sentence as a result of the jury’s verdict.”

The Northern Echo: Richard Smith-SlaterRichard Smith-Slater (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Smith-Slater, of Bury Road, Newton Aycliffe, was found guilty of murder following at trial at the same court after the jury deliberated for three hours.

Judge James Adkin, the Recorder of Durham, jailed the defendant for life and told him he would serve at least 14-years before he would be considered for parole.

“During the course of the day you drank 11 pints of beer and snorted cocaine in the toilets of that pub,” he said.

See more court stories from The Northern Echo by clicking here

Get all the latest crime and court updates, for less than the price of a coffee, with a Premium Plus digital subscription to The Northern Echo. Click here

“He (Mr Gill) made it clear that he thought you should leave and instead of simply leaving you argued with him and hit him with a dog lead across the forehead.

“You tried to leave and Mr Gill stood up, clearly upset by what you did, and grabbed you by the collar but did not strike any blow against you.

“You then delivered four punches in very quick succession which hit hard on the head and you could see his head jerk back due to the force of the blows.

“It was not a fair fight, you were half his age, more agile and you had boxing training as a youth, which shows as the punches you delivered were rapid jabs.”