Pair jailed for 31 years for manslaughter of man knifed to death after row over television in Halifax

Two "dangerous" offenders have been jailed for the manslaughter of a man who was knifed to death following a row over a television at a flat in Halifax.

Former stonemason and builder Darren Moorhouse, 49, had been visiting his friend at her home in Athol Close, Ovenden, in January when her ex-partner Christopher Churchill turned up to collect his belongings.

Dale Dwyer, bottom left and Christopher Churchill, centre have been jailed for the death of Darren Moorhouse, right

Dale Dwyer, bottom left and Christopher Churchill, centre have been jailed for the death of Darren Moorhouse, right

A murder trial jury heard how Mr Moorhouse intervened in a fight between the former couple, but he ended up being stabbed in the heart by Churchill's friend Dale Dwyer as the violence spilled out in the entrance area of the flats.

Dwyer, 26, of Alma Street, Buxton, and 34-year-old Churchill, formerly of Athol Close, were both found not guilty of murder following a two-week retrial at Bradford Crown Court, but the jury convicted them on the alternative charge of manslaughter.

Dwyer, who had taken the knife off his friend Churchill during the disturbance, claimed that he had lashed out in self defence when he was under attack from Mr Moorhouse.

After the jury returned their guilty verdicts it was revealed that both Dwyer and Churchill had been assessed as "dangerous" offenders in relation to previous crimes.

Dwyer was sent to a young offenders institution for four years in 2006 for raping two young girls while Churchill was jailed for five years in 2008 for offences of robbery and inflicting grievous bodily harm.

The court heard that Dwyer had also attacked a former partner holding a machete to her neck.

The Recorder of Bradford Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC jailed Dwyer for 15 years with an extended licence period of five years.

Churchill, who had kicked Mr Moorhouse in the head as he lay dying after the stabbing, was sent to prison for 16 years with a five-year licence extension.

Before the pair were sentenced victim impact statements provided by Mr Moorhouse's mother Jean and his sister Malinda were read out to the judge.

In her statement his mother described how her son meant the world to her and she missed his cheeky smile.

"I am so sad that I will never see Darren again," she said.

"He can never share a Christmas or a birthday again with all the family around the table together.

"I will never get over the manner in which he died. He was a kind person, too soft for his own good.

"Some people took advantage of this but he was a kind person always putting others before himself.

"Darren's life was cruelly taken away. All he wanted to do was help others which he was doing that day but he should never have paid for it with his life.

"If I could bring him back tomorrow, I would. I miss him so much. He's in my heart forever."

His sister Malinda said her brother's life was taken just before his 50th birthday.

"It meant that we had to celebrate this without him. Instead of giving him cards and presents we laid flowers in a graveyard," she said.

"Our family has been destroyed and Darren's death has touched so many lives. I have watched my mum's heart break. I have watched his young nephews and nieces cry endless tears while trying to make sense of this devastation.

"I have watched his young son place flowers on his daddy's grave and not understand why.

"Darren was funny and charismatic. His death has left a void in our family that can never be replaced. Darren's death has left me heartbroken and defeated and I am unsure I will ever recover."

The extended sentences for Dwyer and Churchill mean even after serving two-thirds of their prison terms they will only be released if it thought safe to do so.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Pat Twiggs said after the case: “We're pleased with the verdict today and hope the family of Darren Moorhouse can take some comfort from this sentence.

“Darren was a gentleman who died defending a friend from an attack following an argument over property with assailants armed with a knife.

“The argument did not involve Darren and he acted as a good Samaritan to defend a vulnerable person.

“His death was completely unnecessary and demonstrates the perils of people arming themselves with knives to settle grievances.

“I'd also like to pay tribute to the very dignified way in which Darren's family have acted throughout the trial.

“No family should be put through such an ordeal and hear how their loved one died in such tragic circumstances.”

The family of Darren Moorhouse issued this statement following the sentencing.

"Today two men were found guilty of the death of our beloved Darren.

"Since the 18th January 2017, our family has been destroyed and our hearts broken. Although both perpetrators have been found guilty, no amount of justice can bring comfort to our family or bring Darren back.

"Darren was a man who loved life and was deeply loved by his family. He will be forever missed by his mother, sister, brother, nieces, nephews and cousins.

"He was a kind, funny and loyal man always there to lend a hand or do a kind deed.

"He was killed in the prime of his life, just before his 50th birthday. It was a birthday celebration done by a graveside and the pain was unbearably hard.

"We would like to thank the West Yorkshire Police team for their thorough investigation and in particular our liaison officer DC Lorna Ratcliffe.

"Rest in peace Darren and god bless."