A man who stabbed a landlord to death outside his own pub in Widnes has been found guilty of murder
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Today (20 February), Lee Abbott was convicted of the murder of Christian Thornton following a eight day trial at Liverpool Crown Court.
The 35-year-old, of Rose Street, Widnes, has been remanded in custody and is due to be sentenced tomorrow morning (21 February).
Christian died on Sunday 11 August outside the Hammer and Pincers on Liverpool Road.
The 49-year-old father-of-three had been the landlord for 16-years and was a familiar face to many in the town.
He had banned Abbott from the pub nine days before his death after he was heard bragging about carrying a knife.
Christian also added him to the local Pubwatch list, meaning that he was banned from every licensed premises in Widnes.
Despite the ban, Abbott returned to the Hammer and Pincers at around 3.10pm that day – it was busy with lots of families enjoying the warm weather.
He was asked to leave by Christian and started to walk away from the pub before turning around, running back towards him and pulling a knife from a backpack and fatally stabbing him.
Officers arrived at the scene shortly after and attempted to save Christian’s life. Paramedics also attended but, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, he died at the scene.
CCTV footage shows the moments leading up to the tragic incident on August 11
Following today’s verdict Detective Inspector Kate Tomlinson, who led the investigation, said: “Abbott’s actions that day have torn a family apart and rocked the local community.
“Christian was a well-known character locally, he did so much for local charities and will be greatly missed by many.
“Before the incident Abbott had the opportunity to walk away, but instead he made a conscious decision to return and attack Christian, which ultimately resulted in his death.
“This has left three children without their father, and his wife, Pam, has lost a loving husband.
“Their pain has been increased by the fact that they have been made to sit through an 8 day trial and relive what happened on that day.
“The courage and dignity that they have shown throughout this investigation and subsequent trial has been immeasurable.
“Nothing will ever bring Christian back, but I just hope that following today’s verdict all those who knew and loved him can now in some way start to move forward and rebuild their lives.”
Superintendent Simon Parsonage, who was in charge of local policing in Widnes at the time of the incident, said: “Our thoughts remain with Christian’s family and friends who live with the consequences of this tragic incident every day.
“This incident has had a significant impact across the whole community and I hope that Abbott’s conviction will provide some reassurance to those affected.
“I also hope that the circumstances of Christian’s death will deter others from carrying a knife.
“Sadly, this is a stark reminder of the devastating consequences that carrying a knife can have for victims, offenders and their families. We will continue to work closely with the local community and partners to tackle knife crime and to send a clear message that carrying weapons will not be tolerated.”
Detective Inspector Tomlinson added: “This has been a very sad and distressing investigation and I would like to highlight the efforts of all those officers who attended on the day and tried so valiantly to save Christian’s life and to thank those who have assisted with the subsequent investigation.
“The professionalism and dedication of all those involved is admirable and shows their commitment to achieving justice for Christian and his family.”